ifs therapy

what is internal family systems therapy (ifs)?

The Internal Family Systems approach is also called “parts work” because it allows us to create understanding between different parts of ourselves and heal the wounded parts. We recognize parts of the whole self as a common explanation of human existence. For example, have you or someone you know ever said, “part of me feels this way, and part of me feels another way”. That expression is one of the foundations that we work with and build from.

IFS centers around bringing us back to our whole + authentic self, to unblend from parts that aren’t serving us and offer healing to our overall system. It is most important to note that all parts are welcome and enter into the system to help you in some way, shape, or form. With this information we are able to work together to heal. 

There are four main parts of the internal family system, the self, managers, firefighters, and exiles. The core-self fosters and exhibits calmness, curiosity, compassion, connection, confidence, creativity, courage, and clarity. The goal is for self to be the compassionate leader of all the parts. Our protector parts fight so hard to protect our wounds that they take over the system and it leads to us feeling out of control and unable to manage our life, environment, and behaviors. The core self is achieved by identifying parts through unblending and healing exiles by unburdening. 

The protectors of the system include the Managers which are preemptive protectors, and the Firefighters which are reactive protectors. Managers manage the system to protect the exiles from entering the system and keep the person in control at all times. These parts may include the controller, stiver, perfectionist, caretaker, self-critical parts ect. Firefighters put out fires when the exiles are activated. These parts may include addiction, self-harm, suicidality, dissociation, distraction, violence, binge-eating, shopping etc. 

The exiles are parts of the system that have been isolated and carry burdens from experiences that have caused harm, or wounds to us. These parts may include shame, trauma, guilt, rage, grief/loss, fear, dependency etc. Exiles want to be heard and share their story in order to be unburdened. 

Protectors of system that we will treat in our therapy are trauma, mental health issues, codependency, negative self-talk, shame, grief, etc. IFS can be an amazing approach that will allow you to accept and honor all parts of yourself as helpers of the system. Thus the healing can begin.

“IFS therapy with Renee has changed my life and the way I view myself. I used to always be so dissociated and have no idea who I was. Thanks parts work!!”

L. G.

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