What is Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy?

By: The Centre for Effective Living

Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy is an evidence-based therapeutic modality that has been proven to be effective in treating a wide range of conditions.

Different parts

IFS therapy is based on the idea that we all have different ‘parts’ of ourselves that have their own feelings, thoughts, goals and bodily sensations. Some parts may be protective. Some may try to manage our feelings.  Others might be vulnerable. In IFS therapy, there are no ‘bad parts’, as they all have a positive intention for our internal system. However, they can sometimes conflict with each other or get stuck in unhealthy patterns. For example, you might have a part that wants to achieve a particular goal, a part that is scared to try, and a part that would rather sit on the couch and watch Netflix! IFS therapy helps clients to identify and understand their parts.

The Self

IFS therapy helps clients access their Self,  which is essentially who they truly are when all parts are separated out. Self is the natural leader of the internal system of parts. It is characterised by qualities such as compassion, curiosity, clarity, courage, calmness, creativity and connectedness.  It is the part of you that gets in a place of flow when you are engaged in something you are passionate about.

Access to the Self is sometimes blocked when other parts are running the show.

IFS therapy helps clients to:

  • acknowledge their parts,
  • understand each of their parts’ role,
  • ask the parts to allow some space to enable the Self to lead,
  • and help all parts to work together in harmony.

IFS therapy helps clients to do this by creating a safe and trusting relationship between the therapist and the client, and by using techniques such as guided imagery, dialogues and unblending. Unblending is the process of separating the Self from parts, so that clients can relate to the parts without being overwhelmed by them. IFS can look like traditional talk therapy, except that in IFS the conversation is occurring between Self and the various parts.

IFS is a powerful and transformative approach that can help clients heal from trauma, abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, and more. It can also help people improve their relationships with themselves and others by fostering empathy, understanding, and acceptance. IFS therapy can help people discover their true potential and live more authentically; to become a person fully alive!

Article supplied with thanks to The Centre for Effective Living.

Feature image: Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash 

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