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Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS)

Updated: May 18

IFS, or Internal Family Systems, is a therapeutic approach that can be effective if you feel you sometimes act, or behave, like someone you don't see as your 'best self'.

Of course modern life is stressful, and everyone snaps occasionally. But do you sometimes feel yourself going through the motions with things - things you might regret later?

Do you sometimes have thoughts in your head that don't feel very compassionate, calm or balanced?

Do you feel driven to do things perfectly, or feel guilty about relaxing or putting yourself first?

Do you feel very irritated with yourself (or others!)?

Do you recognise your parents' attitudes showing up in your own beliefs sometimes?

Do you feel like you are never the version of yourself that you plan to be?

Internal Family Systems therapy (IFS) conceptualizes the mind as made up of multiple parts, each with its own viewpoint and qualities.

These 'parts' interact like members of a family. Each can have conflicting motivations or emotions, leading to internal struggles.

That’s why it can feel like you are going through your day ‘on-track’ and then something will happen ... then it’s like something else takes over.

When you feel irritated with yourself, IFS suggests that this irritation might come from one part of your psyche that is frustrated with another part. For example, a "manager" part might be frustrated with a "firefighter" part for handling stress in ways that the “manager” views as unproductive or harmful (like overeating or drinking too much when you are trying to be healthy).

Here’s how IFS might help address such feelings:

If you feel that you keep ‘letting yourself down’, then IFS can be a helpful approach.

Rule number 1 is that we can’t change what we don’t understand, and so getting to know the parts of you that keep getting triggered happens first. Then we go through the process of exploring the intentions of each part. Even the critical or irritated part has positive intentions—perhaps it's trying to push you to do better or protect you from failure.

Most people find that their stronger parts developed at a time of earlier adversity.

When I talk about trauma, I don’t refer to earthquakes, or brutal attacks - although these are certainly traumatic. However, often the events that leave the deepest wounds are to do with how we were treated by other people…Parents, friends, and our key relationships are the origins of many traumas.

I combine IFS with EMDR so that trauma healing is paired with self-discovery.

If you would like to know more, get in touch.

If you want to learn more, you can read:

  • Introduction to Internal Family Systems: A Revolutionary Therapy for Wholeness & Healing: Richard C Schwartz (Author) - 2023

  • No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma & Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model: Richard Schwartz (Author) - 2023

If you want to talk about how this concept of 'parts' and how it might be the answer to overcoming some of the habits or repeating cycles you are frustrated by, then book a consultation and I would be happy to help you.

Everyone has parts.

Parts or internal family systems does not mean 'hearing voices' - although individuals who experience voices can also benefit from this approach.

Everyone can benefit from IFS to trace patterns back to their origins and to start living life with their clear-visioned, calm and confident SELF in the driving seat.

Ready to go?

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