Introduction to Internal Family Systems
Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) is a form of psychotherapy that was developed by Richard C. Schwartz, Ph.D., in the 1980s. Schwartz believed that every person is made up of multiple “sub-personalities” or parts, each with its own unique perspective and set of qualities. The objective of IFS is to help clients understand their various parts better, learn how to access their core “Self”, and let go of limiting beliefs about their parts.
There are many different kinds of parts within a person—some are positive and helpful, while others may feel more challenging or painful. The client’s “Self” is the parent to all parts. The Self can access wisdom to guide us in making choices that best serve our highest selves and those around us. In IFS therapy, therapists help people become aware of these various parts and learn how to relate to them in a more compassionate way.
The IFS model is based on three basic principles:
- The Self is the part that is always true to our highest selves. It knows what’s best for us, and it has a natural intelligence to help us get there.
- The Self is always connected to all parts of ourselves, whether we are aware of them or not (e.g., my angry part might be hiding because I don’t think anger is a “good” emotion).
- The Self is always connected to the body and mind, which means that whatever happens in one affects the other two aspects as well (e.g., if I’m stressed out about work, this could be tied to the tension in my shoulders and back).
Many people who struggle with complex trauma find IFS therapy is a helpful way of navigating the complex emotions and parts that come up as a result of their trauma. IFS therapy is often used to treat the following symptoms and disorders:
- Chronic anxiety or depression
- Eating disorders
- Substance use disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Complex or attachment trauma
IFS helps people:
- Gain self-empowerment and leadership through finding balance with their various parts.
- Promote self-compassion and self-understanding.
- Take shame away from complex parts of themselves so they can learn about those parts vs. avoiding or “exiling” them. What we don’t talk about, is much more difficult to heal.
To learn more about IFS or to be connected to an IFS therapist at Soma Therapy, please contact us here or by calling 316-201-6047.