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Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS)

Updated: Apr 27, 2021

IFS Therapy is a “powerfully transformative, evidence-based model of psychotherapy.” [IFS

InstituteUK] Sometimes it can be mistaken as a ‘Family’ Therapy because of its name, however in the context here, it is used as an Individual Therapy. Dr Dick Schwartz who as its founder (over 35 years ago) worked with families at the outset, discovered that as we have external family systems that typically surround us or others, we also have an ‘Internal Family’ with relationships that operate similarly but instead is composed of different emotions, feelings and sensations that we often refer to as ‘Parts’ of our inner family, or system.

How frequently have you said something similar to: ‘a part of me feels like this would be a good option, but another part is telling me that maybe that isn’t such a good idea?’ Does that sound familiar? This is you already tuning into your different parts.

Some of these parts can act protectively, and work hard on our behalf to keep us feeling less at risk around the ‘burdens’ that ‘Exiles’ (vulnerable parts) carry from anything we experienced as being hurtful or traumatic in our past.

Protective parts are always well intentioned, but the impact of their behaviour on our lives may not always appear to reflect this.

Often our Exiles want to be heard and can break through this protection making their presence painfully and sometimes alarmingly known in ways we are all too familiar with.

IFS also recognises that we are all born with an innately good ‘SELF,’ which holds qualities such as: Compassion, Connection, Creativity, Curiosity, Clarity, Calmness, Confidence and Courage.

Once we discover our true ‘Self’ we can then become ‘Self-Led.’ That is to say we can start to forge a warm and compassionate relationship with our Inner Family, bringing understanding and acceptance to our parts with the information they put forward for our attention.

When they are truly heard and validated, protective parts in response relax, while vulnerable parts embark on the journey of tenderly unburdening from hurt and trauma, and ultimately to their eventual healing. Instead of looking externally or to others for resource, we begin to develop the art of self regulation.

How this works in practice is that I will gently invite you to focus internally to see what part needs your attention - this will manifest as a ‘Trailhead,’ - a thought, or recognition of an issue that occupies your mind.

Through the supported process of identifying your ‘Self’ and becoming ‘in relationship’ with relevant parts, we will, at your own pace be able to safely reach and heal those highly vulnerable parts which will in turn enable and empower you to move forward in a wonderfully hopeful and positive way.

Can you imagine how that would be?

To be ‘Self-Led?’

To have that wonderful resource?

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