Internal Family Systems—The Personal Side

Last month we began exploring the treatment modality of Internal Family Systems (IFS). As stated last month, IFS is an approach to therapy that aims to help the individual become aware of their inner voices to begin the path to healing and wholeness. IFS recognizes that each person has a true Self, but that the parts within a person’s psyche or emotions are often in conflict with each other and this in turn suppresses the person’s real, whole Self from ruling and reigning in peace. 

IFS encourages the client to be inquisitive about their inner voices to understand their roles and functions. Learning the different parts of Self may employ the following:

Finding. Discover the part of your mind/body that needs attention.

Focus. Pay attention to the parts.

Flesh. Flesh it out by processing your experience of the part.

Feel. Process how you feel about the part.

Befriend. Accept the part.

Fear. Ask what the part is afraid of and what would happen if you changed its role.

Once a client understands their competing voices or parts, they can begin the work of learning how to accept each part so they may live in peace. I always tell my clients that there is a reason for their negative or misunderstood behaviors. An example of this in IFS is that if I have a critical part or “voice” inside of me, I may drink alcohol excessively to quiet this voice. IFS would propose exploring the critical voice—its origin and its role—and working with it to foster understanding and promote healing.

IFS is a beautiful treatment in that it welcomes the exploration of all of our emotions and parts—while still recognizing there is a best or core Self waiting to emerge. If you struggle with depression, chronic pain or substance abuse, IFS can help. In 2015, IFS was designated as an evidence-based treatment on the National Registry for Evidence-based Programs and Practices. IFS offers that compassion for each part of ourselves is the start of emotional healing and wholeness. If you need compassion and support, we are here to help. Our trained licensed mental health counselors will support and encourage you as you work on understanding who you are and who you want to be. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment.


Yolanda Brailey