Internal Family Systems is a type of therapy to help integrate and support all of the different parts within us. If you’re feeling a lot of inner conflict within you, IFS therapy can help. This can often feel as if you are at war with yourself, which naturally leaves you exhausted, things appear fruitless or pointless, and whatever you do, you just can’t win!
The truth is, you can’t win when you are at war with yourself – there will be parts of you that feel validated because they prevailed on that given day (for example, you worked hard and over exceeded your boss’s expectations), but that will leave other parts unattended and miserable (for example, the part of you that needs to rest.)
IFS therapy was developed by Richard Schwartz, Ph.D, a world renowned researcher whose work spans across the last 40 years. Established in the early 1980s, it is an evidence-based psychotherapy that has been proven to alleviate many forms of psychological suffering, such as anxiety, depression, and trauma. One of the biggest advantages of Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy is its ability to help us safely connect to our shame, anger, fear, sadness, and anxiety from a place of wisdom, curiosity, and compassion. By learning to regard your inner experiences (parts) as wisdom messengers, instead of qualities of your character that you vilify and are fearful/shameful of, you can alleviate the tension you feel inside and gain more clarity about your identity, needs, and wants in life.
For instance, the Inner Critic is a part that many of us carry. Instead of experiencing this part as an inner tormentor that manifests as negative self-talk and self-disparaging remarks, we can repurpose this part into a gentler and effective voice that still helps you stay on track. We can apply the same concept to the Perfectionistic part, the Procrastinator, the Caretaker, the People Pleaser, the Overachiever, the Conformist, the Bully, the Saboteur – you get my point!
All of these parts exist in our system for valid reasons. They got us through life, and are our protectors although they often act in ways that eventually harm us. What we can do with IFS therapy is facilitate a process through which your parts lessen their extreme behaviors, and find healthier ways to fulfill their purpose.
While in session, the IFS therapist is your guide and co-traveler on your own inner quest of rediscovery and healing. Your parts will no longer be polarized and entangled, and you can learn to be your own best therapist for life.
Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy also unequivocally acknowledges the spiritual quality of the Self, which is our wise, and compassionate essence of goodness that is the source of our healing and inner harmony. This makes this model an effective way to facilitate spiritual development and exploration, alongside emotional healing.