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A little about Kay....

Kay Gardner is a senior Lead Trainer for Internal Family Systems (IFS). She is a therapist who has been in private practice for 40 years in Chicago.  Kay is co-founder of the Women's Circle, a woman’s program in Chicago and also has led various workshops around the country for men and women including Persephone's Journey, Men and Their Mothers, Women and their fathers, Legacy burdens, and Sacred theatre for couples.  She has been involved with IFS since the beginning. She was a therapist and teacher of Hakomi Body Centered Psychotherapy and helped to integrate the body into the IFS model 25 years ago. She brings a body centered and spiritual approach to her work and has been a student of yoga and meditation for 40 years.  


Kay began her journey with legacy burdens in 1994 when she attended a workshop at an IFS conference and heard a presenter name a type of burden that was handed down through generations – a legacy burden. This grabbed her attention as the concept resonated very strongly with her. Captivated by the notion of intergenerational burdens, she began to research in earnest for answers on how to heal these burdens.


From studying the work of an English scientist, Rupert Sheldrake, she surmised that the way to release intergenerational burdens was to attend to these burdens energetically and she found that through energetic work she could help clients unburden burdens that existed in and across generations.

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What are legacy burdens?

Legacy Burdens are essentially beliefs, feelings, and emotions that are handed down through the family line either directly or indirectly. These could be feelings and beliefs about gender roles, what defines success, beliefs about money--you name it.  And these beliefs can turn into burdens (i.e. painful emotions) if they're tied to shame. Sometimes legacy burdens only go back a generation or two, but others can go far, far back, many hundreds of years.

Legacy burdens are covert forces that increase our symptoms, influence our choices, control our behaviors, and veil our perceptions of the world. Legacy burdens can haunt individuals and families for generations. However, the good news is that they can be easily unburdened once identified as “not ours, not created from our own life experiences, and, in fact inherited. 

Examples of Legacy Burdens

Legacy burdens make us reject anything that was regarded as unacceptable or shameful at any level in our culture and/or past generations. Some typical examples of legacy burdens are:

  • We don’t do things by half measures in this family

  • Anger should not be expressed

  • An apology is a sign of weakness.

  • Boys don’t cry

  • Women should not speak their mind

  • You’ve got to earn your keep

Some examples of legacy burdens Kay has encountered in her practice include a Jewish woman who carried intense irrational fears because her parents were in the camps during the Holocaust. She also worked with a young woman whose parents came from Ireland. She had deep sexual shame that echoed through the women for many generations in her lineage. Similarly, she helped a woman from China unburden a strong message from her ancestors that she had to be perfect to be loved.

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How do we know if we have legacy burdens?

Some of easiest ways to identify if you are carrying legacy burdens is if your feel you have strong or extreme beliefs which don’t make sense with your personal history. So if you feel you are incapable of apologising even if you know you are in the wrong, then you might be carrying a Legacy Burden. Another way to know is if your beliefs or symptoms feel unmovable or if you have a real feeling of being stuck.


I would like to invite you to take some time now to contemplate.

  • Are there any parts of you that are holding on to something that does not belong to you?

  • Who else in your family carry parts that hold these symptoms (i.e., anxiety, shame, fear, grief, anger, perfectionism)?

  • Do your beliefs or symptoms make sense to you given your life experience?

  • Does this energy belong to you and you only?

If your first answer is Yes followed by two No's, then a legacy burden retreat might just be what you are looking for!

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What to expect from a Legacy Burden retreat:

In this retreat participants will:

  • Get acquainted with legacy burdens.

  • Have an opportunity to work in an intimate setting with a group and one on one to explore your legacy burdens and energy work.

  • Learn about morphic fields as they relate to legacy burdens.

  • Experience a live demonstration of Kay working with legacy burdens.

  • Explore and discover your own legacy burdens.

  • Share your legacy burdens with another person.

  • Have a group experience of working with your legacy burdens.

  • Have an opportunity to work with your own legacy burdens.

  • Have an experience of working with the energy in your body.

  • Learn how to energetically fill the vacuum left after an unburdening.

Please be advised that this is not a formal training about legacy burdens and is not intended as a training on how to guide this work for other people. This is strictly a retreat for your personal growth and well-being.

The retreat is limited to 30 participants.


Retreat Particulars

The retreat will take place over 5 days starting on Monday evening, February 5th, 2024 and concluding on Saturday morning February 10th, 2024.

Retreat Tuition cost plus an application form will be available to you once you register your interest.

The retreat cost includes tuition, accommodation and 3 delicious meals a day to include vegetarian options. Each day locally sourced foods will be available for a full Breakfast, a light lunch and a delicious evening meal.

There is an afternoon off in the middle of the week to allow participants to process, rest and relax with spa treatments or for those who seek a little bit of adventure, touring the most popular sightseeing areas that Killarney has to offer. Spa treatments and sightseeing tours are optional extras.

This retreat is limited to 30 participants. If you are interested in participating in this retreat, please register your interest. You will then be directed automatically to a registration form for completion. Only fully registered applicants will be considered for this retreat. Once your registration is approved we will advise you formally and it is only at this point that we will request a €500 non-refundable deposit to reserve your place on this retreat. Please do not make travel arrangements until your registration has been formally accepted.​ 

Any travel costs to the retreat location in Killarney, Southwest Ireland is the sole responsibility of the participant.

IMPORTANT: Please read our FAQS page on this website for further guidelines and information on Covid, the arrangements we have in place in the unlikely event the retreat is cancelled due to Covid or in the unlikely event the retreat leader is not in a position to attend. The FAQS page also provides further general information which you may find useful when planning your trip. If after reading the FAQS page you have any further information, please feel free to email Ciara or Paul at

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