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Internal Family Systems (IFS)

Have you ever thought, “Part of me feels pissed off, and another part of me feels really sad?”

 

Internal Family Systems Therapy operates on the idea that we area ALL complex humans made up of a ton of complex parts.

Each part of us develops from specific life experiences, relationships, or traumas. Trauma can force our parts into extreme roles (think: perfectionism, chronic people pleasing, feeling disembodied and disempowered, drinking more than you would like to in order to relieve the pain, etc.)


Therapists like me, who use IFS, believe that every single part of us (even the ones that you might judge and hate), have protective, positive, and adaptive intentions. In other words, each part holds a value and is trying to help you survive in the environments that you are in. There is nothing inherently wrong with you; you have a system of internal parts that are doing what they need to do to get you through some really tough times!

For example... maybe you are a "people-pleaser?"

You are constantly bending over backwards for everyone around you, and when the day is over, you feel pretty empty yourself. You feel disconnected from who you are authentically. You feel exhausted and drained.

 

Then, you begin IFS.

 

You start getting to know this part of you – the people pleasing part. You first realize that it is JUST one part of you, and that you are so much more than just this one thing. You begin working with the part, getting to know it a little bit.

 

You start listening to this part and realize that it developed when you were just five years old. Your parents were separated, and your mother was emotionally volatile. You never knew what to expect from her. You learned to repress your own needs, moods, and emotions in service of being a “good kid,” and making sure that your mom didn’t become emotional or mean towards you. This part of you learned that by putting your own needs on the backburner, you could keep mom happy.

 

Now, that part of you is activated in most of your relationships. You build up your relationship to this part, recognizing with compassion, that this part has been trying to protect you throughout your life.

Who Can IFS Help?

  • In my humble opinion, everyone :) 

  • Folks who have experienced trauma 

  • Adult children of emotionally immature parents 

  • People pleasers 

  • Perfectionists

  • "Work-aholics" 

  • People who have been in therapy before but want to dig deeper and start "feeling" again 

  • People who feel disconnected from themselves and their authenticity

This approach is de-pathologizing and re-humanizing.  

One of my favorite parts of IFS is that it is an experiential approach to therapy. It goes deeper than traditional talk therapy. You have the opportunity to turn inwards and learn about yourself in a profound way.

When we begin building our relationship to our inner world, we can access our truest Self and our innate capacity to heal. We feel a sense of calm, compassion, clarity, curiosity, courage, creativity, and connectedness. 

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