What is IFS?
Internal Family Systems, or IFS, is a powerful transformative type of psychotherapy that believes all of us are made up of several parts or sub-personalities. Dr Richard Schwartz, the founder of IFS, believed the person to be an inner family system. His theory is that we all have several different parts living within us that plays both healthy and unhealthy roles within the family system.
Various life events and traumas can force some of the parts to take on extreme roles. The model aims to understand and separate the Self from the other parts, consisting of managers, firefighters and exiles, which can hold painful emotions such as shame and anger. All of these making up a person’s inner world.
Managers - proactive protector parts, attempting to keep the person in control of situations and relationships in order to protect them from feeling hurt for example:
controller, planner, inner critic, judge, pessimist, people pleaser, perfectionist, self sabotage, anxiety, procrastinator, high achiever, caretaker, depression, panic attacks.
Firefighters - Reactive protector parts but acts after exiles are upset to either soothe or distract for example:
Addictions, dissociation, angry part, vengeful, promiscuity, retreating, hiding, self-harm, violent, binge eating, drinking too much, compulsion, obsession, pain, eating disorder, fantasy, suicidality.
Exiles - younger wounded parts carrying the "burdens" of painful memories, emotions and beliefs for example:
I am not good enough, I am unlovable, I am not worthy, sadness, hurt, shame, loneliness, grief/loss, dependency, anger, rage, fear, terror, dependency.
The ultimate goal of therapy is to restore or unburden these extreme wounded parts so that a healthy, harmonious internal system can be created that is coordinated and led by the Self. The Self being the core of the person, which has eight main positive qualities which are compassion, curiosity, calm, clarity, courage, connectedness, confidence and creativity.
What is IFS useful for?
It is used to work with a variety of mental health conditions, with individuals and families. Issues treated includes:
• Sexual, physical or emotional abuse
• Depression and anxiety
• Compulsive behaviours
• Body image issues
• Phobias and panic
• Attachment issues
• Addictions to substances
• Eating disorder
A typical session is around 1.5 hours. The amount of sessions depends on the individual and their needs.
During your sessions:
I will assist you in identifying different parts, explore them and help you to un-blend and separate from them. I will help you to heal parts through your inner system, using your core self.
• Accesses the true self
• Inner child work
• Releases and heals trans-generational trauma
• Self healing
• Somatic work
• Talk therapy
• Works with all parts, not against them
IFS is a self-empowering form of therapy that gives you the tools to manage your own mental health and life decisions, therefore becoming your own mentor. IFS will give you a greater sense of control. I view IFS as a very effective and compassionate way of understanding ourselves, enabling the self to be a leader, creating harmony and healing within the system.
Seeking help and support can be a very difficult step. My aim is to support you to use the principles of IFS to boost your mental health and wellbeing. Please feel free to contact me to find out more about what I can offer and how we might work together.
Nicky Fitzwilliam Wellness Therapies
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