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IFS-Internal Family Systems

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What is Internal Family Systems?

IFS is a transformative, evidence-based psychotherapy that helps people heal by accessing and loving their protective and wounded inner parts. We believe the mind is naturally multiple and that is a good thing. Just like members of a family, inner parts are forced from their valuable states into extreme roles within us. We also all have a core Self.

Self is in everyone. It can’t be damaged. It knows how to heal.

By helping people first access their Self and, from that core, come to understand and heal their parts, IFS creates inner and outer connectedness

Parts Work/Internal Family Systems

Parts Work is based on the premise that we are all made up of multiple parts with different perspectives, concerns, and motivations. A simple and common example of this could be saying one part of me wants to leave my relationship, and another part of me wants to stay. In parts work, we would speak to each of these parts, as though they were separate people, in an attempt to understand fully the concern and motivation of each part.

Problems arise when parts make us feel anxiety, depression, or other acting in behaviours. Or parts act out with behaviours such as working too much, drinking, binging and purging, self-harm, lashing out in anger, saying things we regret, and so on. The most important tenet of Parts Work is that all of our parts believe they are protecting us, even if the way they are protecting us cause problems in our life.

Parts work is different from many modalities because of it’s philosophy that it is of key importance that we approach all of our parts with compassion and curiosity, even (especially) the parts we most dislike in ourselves. We attempt to understand why the part believes that it’s behaviour is protecting us from danger or harm.

Liberating parts from their mistaken beliefs is one of our main goals in this modality. Parts are often 'stuck in time' so to speak — so we work towards letting each 'part' know that they no longer have to do the 'job' of protecting us that they feel they were hired on to do (usually at a time of wounding in early childhood).

The other main component of the work is letting all the parts know that we have a Self, this true Self is not a part — and that this Self is capable of leading the system, of knowing what to do, what choices to make, how to act in the world, in relationship, and so on.

When we educate our parts about the Self’s ability to lead the system, the parts learn that they don’t have to take over with their destructive behaviour in an attempt to keep the client safe.

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