Internal Family Systems

(IFS) Internal Family Systems

IFS (Internal Family Services) is a non-pathologizing, evidence-based model, a means of working with our many thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and behaviors— different parts of ourselves. The unique process of IFS, in which we are guided to close our eyes and notice these different inner voices, or parts, to connect and listen deeply—allows us to discover what’s behind the energy of our feelings, beliefs, and reactions to any situation. This process helps us untangle the often polarized parts of ourselves, unburden old beliefs, and offer loving witness to old pain that needs to be heard, held with compassion, and released.  When our parts learn to trust our “presence” with them, they become open to collaborate, take on new roles in our system, soften, and shift towards harmony. In addition, our parts become less reactive, feel safer, and less likely to fall into old patterns.
Most importantly, inside everyone there is a calm, courageous, curious, compassionate, creative, and connected Self which knows how to heal and be there for our parts. This is our innate core that is untouched by the burdens and beliefs our parts acquire from life experiences. In essence, this is who we truly are. With IFS parts work, we become able to meet our parts from the Self, with all those healing qualities. And we become able to meet life’s challenges by working with our parts and speaking for them, rather than from them. In this way we have more access to Self energy and Self leadership. Parts no longer cloud up this access and at the same time, become important allies within our system. In IFS, all parts are welcome.

Video Credit: IFS Institute -Internal Family Systems Official Video

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the issues treated with IFS ?

IFS treats a variety of mental health conditions and psychological wounds. It is an evidence based practice (listed in the National Registry for Evidence-Based Programs and Practices) that has been shown to be effective in improving emotional well-being and improves symptoms of phobia, panic, generalized anxiety, depression, trauma, abuse (physical, emotional and/or sexual), compulsive behaviors, body image issues, relationship issues, as well as substance dependency and addictions.

What is the Self in IFS?

In IFS therapy, the Self represents the seat of conscious and what each person is at the core. The Self exhibits many positive qualities such as compassion, curiosity, calmness, connectedness, centeredness and creativity.

Will it help my relationship?

When one or both partners are able to self-regulate his/her own emotions-communication, respect and understanding can naturally improve. Individuals are less reactive, and it is easier to stay present and not become defensive or blaming with their partner.

What is the goal of IFS?

To differentiate the Self from other parts that may be causing havoc in a person’s inner and outer worlds, and ultimately to unburden wounded parts and establish a trusted and harmonious internal system that is coordinated by the Self. IFS can increase a person’s ability to regulate emotions, be the leader of your parts and in charge of your feelings instead of your feelings running you!

What happens in an IFS Session?

Much like traditional talk therapy, an individual may want to focus on an issue that is causing them distress internally or externally in their relationships. As we focus on that emotion or belief, a person may be asked to notice how that is showing up via a body sensation, or an image or awareness of that part. A person may be asked how they feel toward that part of themselves and they may describe feelings of shame, disgust, fear or anger. After we help to understand the protective reason behind the part’s actions, a person (coming from Self) may able to feel compassion or curiosity for the part and with additional interventions, the part is typically able to release the rigid, often dysfunctional view it exerted on the individual’s inner world. Healing comes when we connect to parts of ourselves from Self. Self is compassionate, curious and non-judgmental. As our protective parts are seen by Self, they allow us access to our exiled parts. As Self sees and cares for the exiled parts, they are able to become unstuck from the past and healed.