What is IFS?

Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) is a type of therapy that was developed in the 1990s by Richard Schwartz. IFS is a non-pathologizing, non-judgmental approach to therapy that focuses on healing the whole person by working with the different parts of their internal system. It is based on the idea that everyone has multiple parts or sub-personalities within them, each with their own beliefs, emotions, and motivations.

The primary goal of IFS is to help individuals develop a healthy relationship with their internal parts, which may include “exiles” (traumatized or vulnerable parts), “managers” (parts that try to protect the exiles from being triggered), and “firefighters” (parts that activate when the exiles are triggered in order to distract from or numb the pain). The therapist works with the individual to identify these parts and help them communicate with each other in a safe and productive way, promoting self-healing and integration.

The IFS approach emphasizes self-compassion, curiosity, and empowerment. The therapist creates a safe space for the individual to explore their inner world, providing support and guidance as they work to understand and reconcile their internal conflicts. The goal is to help individuals become more aware of their internal parts and learn to work with them in a productive and healthy way.

IFS has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, trauma, and relationship difficulties. Research has shown that IFS is particularly effective in treating individuals with a history of trauma. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that IFS was more effective than traditional cognitive-behavioral therapy in reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a group of female sexual assault survivors.

The IFS approach is unique in that it acknowledges the complexity of the human experience and recognizes that individuals are not defined by their symptoms or problems. Instead, it focuses on helping individuals understand and reconcile their internal conflicts in order to promote healing and growth. The IFS approach also emphasizes the importance of self-care and encourages individuals to take an active role in their own healing process.

In an IFS therapy session, the therapist will begin by helping the individual identify their internal parts and the roles they play in their internal system. The therapist will then work with the individual to develop a relationship with each part, promoting self-awareness and self-compassion. As the individual becomes more comfortable with their parts, the therapist will help them work through any conflicts or challenges that arise.

Throughout the therapy process, the therapist will encourage the individual to take an active role in their own healing process. This may include practicing self-care, developing a deeper understanding of their internal parts, and learning to communicate with their parts in a healthy and productive way.

How Does IFS Work?

Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy is a type of psychotherapy that is designed to help individuals better understand and manage their inner world. In IFS, individuals work with a therapist to identify and explore their different “parts” or sub-personalities that make up their internal system.

During an IFS therapy session, the therapist will first help the individual to get into a state of relaxation and focus. Then, the therapist will ask the individual to identify a particular issue or problem that they are experiencing. From there, the therapist will guide the individual through a process of exploring their internal system to better understand the different parts that are involved.

The therapist will help the individual to identify the different parts of themselves that are involved in the issue or problem at hand. For example, a person may have a part of themselves that feels anxious or scared, and another part that feels angry or defensive. The therapist will help the individual to get to know each of these parts better, and to understand their individual needs and motivations.

Once the individual has a better understanding of their different parts, the therapist will help them to work towards integrating these parts and finding a sense of harmony and balance within their internal system. The goal is not to eliminate any parts, but rather to help them work together more effectively and cooperatively.

Throughout the therapy process, the individual is encouraged to take an active role in their own healing and growth. They are taught techniques for self-awareness and self-regulation, so that they can better manage their internal system on their own.

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Liz Lund, MPA

Liz is originally from lush green Washington State. She is a life enthusiast and a huge fan of people. Liz has always loved learning why people are the way they are. She moved to UT in 2013 and completed her bachelors degree in Psychology in 2016. After college Liz worked at a residential treatment center and found that she was not only passionate about people, but also administration. Liz is recently finished her MPA in April 2022. Liz loves serving people and is excited and looking forward to learning about; and from our clients here at Corner Canyon.
When Liz is not busy working she love being outdoors, eating ice cream, taking naps, and spending time with her precious baby girl and sweet husband.