Internal Family Systems

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is at the forefront of a movement toward a more collaborative therapeutic approach that relies on clients’ intuitive wisdom. IFS offers a clear, non-pathologizing, and empowering view of human cognitive and emotional life and provides a dynamic therapeutic approach that allows both therapist and client to enter into a transformational relationship in which healing can occur. For more information about the IFS model and its founder, Dr. Richard Schwartz, PhD, visit the IFS Institute Website.

Internal Family Systems: An Evidence-Based Practice

IFS is posted on the National Registry for Evidence-basedPrograms and Practices (NREPP). Interventions listed in NREPP. have been subject to independence, rigorous scrutiny, and are deemed to show significant impact on individual outcomes relating to mental health. For more information about IFS as an evidence-based practice, please visit the Foundation for Self Leadership Website.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The goal at IFS Institute is to create learning environments and a community that teach and support the internal welcoming of parts that have been exiled, shamed, or marginalized within our systems so that they may be seen, heard, valued, and ultimately healed. Our hope is that this work will lead to greater Self leadership where all of us are more connected, curious, and compassionate with ourselves and with each other. For more information about IFS Institute’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, please visit: IFSI Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

How It works:

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a therapeutic approach that focuses on understanding and transforming the various parts or subpersonalities within an individual’s psyche. Here’s an overview of Internal Family Systems:

1. Core Concepts: IFS posits that each person’s psyche is composed of multiple parts, each with its own unique characteristics, emotions, and motivations. These parts can be protective, wounded, or carrying burdens from past experiences. The goal of IFS therapy is to help individuals identify, understand, and integrate these parts to achieve inner harmony and healing.

2. Parts Work: In IFS therapy, clients are guided through a process of exploring and interacting with their different parts. This involves gaining awareness of the roles these parts play in their lives, understanding their origins and functions, and developing compassionate relationships with them.

3. Self-Leadership: Central to IFS is the concept of the Self, which represents the core, undamaged essence of the individual. The Self is characterized by qualities such as compassion, curiosity, and wisdom. Through the process of Self-leadership, individuals learn to access and embody these qualities to guide and heal their internal system.

4. Exiles, Managers, and Firefighters: IFS categorizes parts into three main types: Exiles, Managers, and Firefighters. Exiles carry the emotional wounds and vulnerabilities of the individual, often stemming from past traumas. Managers are parts that try to protect the individual by controlling and organizing their external environment. Firefighters are parts that emerge in response to intense emotional distress, seeking to distract or numb the individual from painful feelings.

5. Inner Harmony and Integration: The ultimate goal of IFS therapy is to help individuals achieve greater inner harmony and integration by facilitating communication and cooperation among their various parts. Through the process of Self-led exploration and healing, individuals can release burdens, resolve inner conflicts, and experience greater self-awareness and authenticity.

6. Applications: IFS can be applied to a wide range of issues, including trauma, anxiety, depression, addiction, relationship problems, and more. It can be used in individual therapy, couples therapy, family therapy, and group therapy settings.

Internal Family Systems offers a compassionate and empowering approach to therapy, allowing individuals to explore and heal the complex inner landscape of their psyche in order to achieve greater well-being and fulfillment in life.

As the entire internal system harmonizes, clients become “Self-led” rather than controlled by their wounded parts. Healing occurs from this integration of all viewpoints into a new, empowered whole.

The Benefits of IFS

IFS offers a non-pathologizing, hopeful framework for personal growth. Through guided inquiry and visualization, the model provides tools to:

  • Resolve trauma and release shame/self-judgment
  • Improve emotional intelligence and self-understanding
  • Cultivate self-leadership, confidence and internal resilience.
  • Enhance spiritual awareness and self-compassion
  • Optimize relationships, work performance and life pursuits

At our practice, our certified IFS therapists are highly trained in walking this transformative path with individuals, couples and families. We gently guide clients in becoming the leaders of their own internal systems and fulfilling their highest visions for health and well-being.

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