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Internal Family Systems

Internal Family SystemsIFS is a powerfully transformative, evidence-based model of psychotherapy. The mind is naturally multiple, and our inner parts contain valuable qualities. Our core True Self, or what is called The Self, knows how to heal, allowing us to become integrated and whole. In IFS, all parts are welcome. The parts you may perceive as negative in your life have a driving force to try and protect you. They are a good thing! Naturally designed within us to protect us.

For instance, a part of you that is an inner critic is there because it is trying to protect you from feeling what the brain perceives as an even BIGGER pain and sadness from a wound that got stuck and not processed effectively, usually from your childhood. 

In internal family systems, a person may internally take on several different familial roles when in an environment they perceive to be unsafe. This forms an Internal Family System; these subpersonalities, or parts, act separately from the center’s True Self. The True Self is one’s truest version when the parts or subpersonalities still have a positive purpose. It is only when the parts become extreme that issues arise.

IFS Therapy categories these roles into three broad subpersonality types:

The Exiles – When one of the Exiles becomes so upset or triggered that it may make the self feel vulnerable, the Firefighters may jump into action, impulsively finding some stimulating activity.

The Managers – keep the self safe, protecting it from becoming dependent and pushing the individual to improve. It is a very practical protector part trying to stop you from feeling the wound of negative emotions or beliefs such as I am not good enough, I am not loveable, I am not worthy. Often, this involves keeping especially difficult feelings such as shame, fear, humiliation, or pain out of consciousness to avoid feeling vulnerable.

The Firefighters – These suppressed and wounded parts are a very reactive protector part, almost trying to stop that bleeding of the core wound, so to speak, and that has been activated to distract or soothe from the overwhelming vulnerable feelings.

In IFS therapy, we look at all the parts that are stopping you from living as your True Self, and using a process, we unburden the wounds and unblind those parts from the True Self so you can live your life as the True Self without the negative actions of the protector parts as we give them an alternative role in your life to a more positive one.