Internal Family Systems: Parts Work


Internal Family Systems therapy (IFS) is an evidenced based therapy modality that has developed over the past 20+ years.  It is now one of the fastest growing approaches to psychotherapy and coaching.  IFS is a non-pathological approach to healing, transformation, and personal development.  It asserts that people can heal and change themselves through tapping into their own inherent resources and wisdom.


Over our lifetime, we develop many different beliefs about ourselves and about the world based on the many people we interact with and experiences that we go through.  Oftentimes, these beliefs and behaviors serve us well at the time we develop them. Over time, however, they may serve to undermine our attempts to be happy and to have loving relationships.  They may be negative messages about ourselves or others.  They may result in our hurting ourselves or others and/or engaging in unhealthy behaviors.  There may also be so many conflicting beliefs and behaviors that we find ourselves actually stuck in patterns which do not allow us to be all that we know that we could be.  


For decades (dating back to Jung in 1913) many therapists and researchers have found that each human being is multifaceted and that there is always more to us than meets the eye.  Much of which may lie deep in our sub/unconscious, beneath our everyday awareness.  However, many of us, being multifaceted, can recognize different states of being throughout our lives.  We may call them moods, sides, facets or parts. 


For example, you may have a “part” that wants to stay in a certain job and a “part” that hates that same job.  You may have caught yourself saying things like “Well, a part of me wants to be with him/her and a part of me doesn’t want to be with this person at all."   Another example is when we make a mistake, for instance, there can be a very tender part who may feel sad or be embarrassed and then another part who berates us by speaking very critically, “You are stupid, you’re not good enough, how could you do that, no one will ever like you, this will never be fixed, etc.”  That part is known as the “Inner Critic.”  

We usually call this “internal conflict’ or “inner turmoil.”  And it is…a conflict within us.   So, who is in conflict? 

Each of these facets are valid and each one needs to be addressed.  In doing so, we will experience more inner peace and harmony within ourselves and in our interactions with others.   In addition, we can avoid being hi-jacked, more often than not, by intense emotions, beliefs or unhelpful behaviors that may have become ingrained habits.   We then can live from a place of wisdom and clarity.  In addition, we will be discovering and utilizing inner resources that we’ve had all along but have remained unrecognized or unclaimed.  

My experience again and again over decades of working with people is once something is healed, understood, acknowledged, transformed, let go of, etc., is that we all return to what would be called our natural state.  A human being’s natural state. when brought back into coherence, includes a deeper sense of inner peace, calm, harmony, contentment and basically a happiness or joy about themselves and their lives.   In IFS the Self, our natural state, is best described by the 8 C’s: Calmness, Clarity, Curiosity, Compassion, Confidence, Courage, Creativity and Connectedness.    

In my work, IFS has proven to be extraordinary.  This method works on a wide spectrum of issues from solving problems, peak performance, personal growth and development, feeling like something is missing in oneself or life, relationship issues, anxiety, addictions, depression and trauma, etc. 

IFS also allows for profound spiritual work across the different religions and philosophies of the world. 

 The Internal Family System’s theory believes that people have an innate capacity, wisdom, depth and intuitive knowledge that may be blocked by any number of fears. parts or circumstances.  By gently releasing these fears and addressing any blocks (known or not), we can tap into our internal resources and fully release any burdens we may be carrying.   So, rather than utilizing a therapy that is focused upon superficial change, IFS is a very self-empowering therapy that brings about deep and life-long lasting change.   

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