Soon therapists were asking permission to copy the illustrations from the book.  As demands for the illustrations increased Tom encouraged me to create a product to fit this niche. So in 2012 I went into my studio and started drawing.  Many of my ideas came from Tom and our clients, but often I draw what I see in my imagination as I wander my own inner world.  In 2013 I published the first edition of Inner Active Cards.  Many of the illustrations can be found in the book, but I have also changed some and added new ones.

Then people began to ask for a book, encouraging him to publish his presentations. So we collaborated along with Jane Eckstein, my sister-in-law, a skilled and talented graphic designer, and by 2007 we had our first edition of Parts Work:  An Illustrated Guide to Your Inner Life.

What people are saying about Inner Active Cards

Copyright © Inner Active Cards. All rights reserved.

Everybody is different in this way, but when the book came out Tom noticed how often clients would refer to the illustrations in his book as capturing the essence of their own inner Parts.  For example, a client said, “my angry Part looks like the one in the book.”  We hypothesize this is because the images are archetypal, meaning the images capture the client’s projection of universal constellations of psychic energy.  Many therapists have confirmed this.

During this time Tom retired from the university where he had become Director of the Holistic Health Department to devote his time to leading workshops and seeing clients.  I attended his local workshops and also joined his on-going experiential Parts Work therapy group.  In my own practice I was using IFS with clients, discovering the varying degrees of their ability to visual their inner world. For some visualizing came easily, some had a hard time.

All artwork ©/™ Sharon Sargent Eckstein & Backwoods Press, 2012. Graphics and Web Site by Jane Eckstein.

I love your cards and work. …. You have provided therapists with a groundbreaking new tool.
Raj Mehta, MWS, Specialties: Addiction, trauma, abuse


I am a play therapist and an EMDR therapist and use the cards with children, adolescents and adults. The cards are so helpful in getting imaginations engaged.  I love these cards!
Loretta Schulz, LPC, EMDR-C, DCC, NCC, Fairfax, VA

A stand out moment for me was when a young adult with deeply painful trauma history created a collage of his parts with the cards.  When he first looked at it, he was startled, but then it filled him with hope and excitement.  For the first time he really saw that he had more parts with kindness and wisdom than parts with shaming beliefs.
Nancy Rosen, LICSW, general practice.  Specialties: trauma and cross-cultural issues

There is nothing like the “word pictures” provided by Inner Active Cards to bypass the ambiguity of words.
Jane Ann Monroe, O.D., Marshal B. Ketchum University


Inner Active Cards are very helpful because they are so visual…. When dealing with personal issues so much is ineffable.  But the pictures can cut through all of that.
Tiana Barton, Client.


We are now on our 4th edition and Parts Work has been published in Germany, Korea, with Italy in the queue.

Inner Active Cards are a powerful tool for IFS Therapy and for anyone using “Parts Work” in their own life.  Many of my clients have little access to “SELF” and cannot separate from their managers/protectors when they first come to therapy. The cards provide a very creative way to help clients unblend from their managers/protectors by giving an external representation of those parts. …
Penny Field, LPC, NCC, East Hartford, CT

Inner Active Cards have a universality that – despite age, gender, or race – allows clients to connect and begin to view these aspects of themselves (sometimes others) in new ways. The cards have been invaluable as a way to support my clients in unblending and in being able to “see” and talk about rather than “be” their symptoms, beliefs, or parts.
Cathyann Simmons, MA, LPC, Pittsburg, PA

Although there is not one set way to use the card s, you can download   suggestions from this web site. We have had clergy, social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, massage therapists, yoga instructors, and counselors trained in EMDR, art therapy, you name it, purchase the cards and report back how well the cards are working for them.  We do, however, encourage therapists to get training in IFS before using IFS techniques with their clients. And Tom’s book “Parts Work: an Illustrated Guide to Your Inner Life" gives an easy to understand overview of the IFS process for the professional, their clients and anyone seeking to do inner work.

And this is how it all began ...


Hello, my name is Sharon Sargent Eckstein and I am the illustrator of  Parts Work: an Illustrated Guide to Your Inner Life, by Tom Holmes, PhD. I am also the creator and publisher of Inner Active Cards, a boxed set of 62 durable color illustrated cards plus 10 blank cards for creating your own images that depict the inner life of “Parts”.  When used in Parts Work therapy, Inner Active Cards have proven to bring clarity, efficiency, transformation and Self-Leadership to the inner lives of troubled clients.

Our story begins in 1999 when I took a class with Tom Holmes, PhD. in Holistic Health at Western Michigan University.  Tom introduced the class to Internal Family Systems, or IFS, the psycho-therapy modality developed by Richard Schwartz, PhD.  Tom gave the class an assignment of making our own “Parts Map” in whatever medium we chose: collage, painting, photography, or words.  This meant doing inner work; listening to the inner voices, emotions and visceral feelings carried by the many sub-personalities that comprise our egos, egos usually considered to be unitary – except by a few psychologists including Carl Jung.

This concept was so refreshing and made so much sense.  It also provided a spiritual component not found in other contemporary modalities at the time: The concept of Self, our spiritual core of wisdom, courage and compassion was finally being addressed and affirmed.  My imagination was hooked.  Being an artist (I have an MFA in painting, taught art at Western Michigan University and was a gallery artist before I studied psychology) lent me the advantage of being able to draw what I visualized.  So I drew my Parts.

Tom liked what he saw and asked if he could use my images in his lectures and workshops.  He began to get positive feedback and soon I was creating more images for his power point presentations.