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Internal Family Systems Therapy

"Be yourself, everyone else is already taken." -Oscar Wilde-

What is internal Family Systems Therapy?

IFS is a transformative therapeutic approach that conceives of every human being as a system of system of protective or wounded inner parts led by a core or “true” self, or sometimes referred to as “self-energy.” Everyone has a self, although it often gets covered up with the pain and shame that we feel. So naturally we try to protect ourselves. We develop parts that become good at managing and protecting us, while at the same time keeping us disconnected from who we are at our core. The role of the protector parts is to keep the exiled parts away. The goal of IFS therapy is to recognize all our parts, to appreciate the protective and wounded parts, and to heal the wounded parts. In this way self-energy is freer to move forward into more of leadership role in the system. In IFS there are generally three types of parts:

“Exiles” represent the wounded parts that often stem from trauma, stress, or other difficulties that we’ve experienced in life. Exiles carry hurt, fear, and shame. The parts that are exiled can become increasingly desperate in an effort to be cared for and to have their story told and heard.

“Managers” are the parts of ourselves that run our day-to-day lives. They try to keep us in control of every situation and relationship in an effort to protect our more wounded parts from experiencing any hurt or rejection. Managers are proactive in protecting us from hurt.

“Firefighters” are the reactive parts of ourselves. These are the parts that react when our exiles are activated. They try to control and extinguish the wounded part’s feelings. Firefighters are reactive in protecting us from hurt and pain.

IFS can help with: