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What is IFS Therapy?

IFS or Internal Family Systems therapy has easily grown into one of my favorite treatment modalities in psychotherapy. Although I am not yet certified as an IFS Therapist, I implement a lot of this model into my clinical framework in my sessions with clients. But what exactly is IFS?

IFS is a treatment modality that is both transformative and evidence based. This model of psychotherapy finds that we are all composed of innate parts. Each of our innate parts are valuable and have different roles to play. Some parts serve as protective, others are reactive, and some are more vulnerable. We can experience these different parts through thoughts, feelings, images, body sensations, and more. And then there is the self.

The self is who we are at the core. When it is differentiated from the other parts of us, the self is secure, self-assured, at ease, and is able to receive feedback. The different parts of us can take on extreme roles in the form of controlling behaviors, self-harm, substance misuse, and more. The parts can take on extreme roles especially when activated by trauma. Even in their extreme roles, each part has a good intention of protecting the most vulnerable parts of us that we have exiled or pushed away. This model of therapy doesn't find any part of us "bad." Not even the parts of us that we may feel are unlovable or unworthy.

The goal of IFS therapy is to help individuals and families find balance within the different parts of themselves or the family system. When each part is seen with compassion, validated, and nurtured, the self becomes empowered to come forward and take the lead in our internal system. What I absolutely love about this model of therapy is that it gives us a compassionate and non-pathologizing view of mental health and systems at large.

If you would like more information on this treatment modality of psychotherapy, please visit the IFS Institute.

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