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Internal Family Systems (IFS)

A Brief Overview

IFS is an approach that is based on the understanding that everyone has multiple sub-personalities or parts. 

"Parts" are different states of mind with different patterns of thoughts and feelings. All of our parts have positive intentions for us, they all want to help us.


For example, being anxious is necessary when we're in danger and need our system to warn us and keep us safe. But sometimes this anxious part of us responds based on some other time in the past when it needed to react this way, even if what's happening in the present isn't an actual threat.  It can get stuck in this habit of reacting in an extreme way and this can get in the way of things we want to do or how we want to be in our relationships. 

When parts take on extreme roles they can get in the way of feeling balanced and peaceful. Instead, we may feel anxious or depressed. We may have physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, pain, or we may engage in self-sabotaging behaviors. Our parts are most helpful and our system is most harmonious when we're the leader of our system, not when our parts run the show. 


With IFS, we welcome all of your parts.


All of your parts have good intentions, so we bring curiosity to them - how are they trying to help you or protect you? We’ll create space for them to tell their stories of why they do what they do, what their fears are and what their beliefs are. As they tell us, we’ll listen with compassion. We’ll give them what they need so that they can move from the past ~ where they hold these beliefs that seem so true ~ to the present, where you lead your system of parts, rather than being led by them. This way you'll be able to choose how to respond rather than react.

IFS is a way of relating to our parts, understanding them, and relieving them of any extreme beliefs they hold that may be getting in the way of living our lives the way we want. IFS recognizes that these feelings or behaviors don’t define all of who we are, and helps us create a little space between ourselves and our feelings and parts so that we can be present with them with compassion and clarity. 


Everyone has within them the qualities needed for healing. IFS helps us access this healing resource.

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