INTERNAL FAMILY SYSTEMS
WHAT IS IFS?
A different theory of how our minds work – a system of parts and Self.
A unique method of therapy.
A focus on mind, body, and spirit; the whole person.
The IFS paradigm of mind is that we all have many parts, or sub-personalities.
And we all have a core Self; the natural, most authentic, calm center of us.
“What IF? What is IFS?”
Each person’s unique “internal family” of parts plus Self feels and functions best when the Self is the calm confident leader. Many clients describe their core Self as having the spiritual qualities of compassion, connection with all living things, love, and wisdom; as well as the leadership qualities of courage and clear thinking.
We all have many parts. That’s where our constant thinking, mind chatter, and our emotions come from. Ever have an argument going round and round in your head about something upsetting? We call this a parts storm. Ever blurt something out in anger, and then feel embarrassed later? Ever hear critical voices inside say you’re stupid, fat, or not good enough? Parts have their origins in a person’s attempts to protect their fundamental integrity. We all have angry, depressed, critical, and anxious parts that started off as ways to cope with life’s challenges, life’s wounds. Rather than trying to banish them, IFS helps us welcome our parts, understand them, and help them release the pain they carry from our pasts.
In IFS therapy I guide you to bring your curious compassionate Self to focus on any distressed part you choose. By doing this we slow things down in our busy minds, and we help each part feel heard and valued. Amazingly, they calm down, and are open to negotiation or transformation. In IFS Therapy we do not guess, interpret, or diagnose why you feel or act a certain way. Instead, we help you focus on a part, ask questions, and we find out everything you need to know. IFS helps you face your most difficult problems, your worst fears, and heal your deepest wounds.
Psychologist Richard C. Schwartz in Chicago developed the Internal Family Systems model of psychotherapy in the late 1980’s. He learned it, he says, by listening carefully to his clients. I had the privilege of training with Dick Schwartz in a marriage and family therapy program at that time; and I heard first hand his excitement and awe about the insight and power for change that this approach generates. The genius of this model, Richard Schwartz found, is that the same interaction dynamics that occur between members of a family or couple, also occur inside each of us. Just as every family needs compassionate yet confident parent(s) so too do we each need compassionate, courageous, Self-leadership at the center of our lives.
Dick Schwartz says: “IFS is more than a therapeutic technique. It is a conceptual framework and practice for developing love for ourselves and for each other.”