Feature by Nikita Fernandes
Richard Schwartz created the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model to work with clients who held conflicting views of themselves. He explained these conflicts as having various parts within ourselves. As human beings, we are made up of different parts that serve specific functions. Internal Family Systems is a powerfully transformative, evidence-based model of psychotherapy. The mind is considered to be naturally made up of multiple sub-personalities or families within each individual’s mental system. These sub-personalities take on different roles, such as an inner critic or inner child, and consist of wounded parts and painful feelings like anger and shame.
For example, we might feel hurt if our boss is upset with us. According to IFS our boss being mad at us taps into how we felt as children when other authority figures were upset. The reactions that come from us are protective measures we take to save ourselves from feeling unpleasant. IFS sees parts as neither good nor bad, but rather just parts within ourselves that are trying to help us survive.
If you are working with a therapist that uses IFS, they might ask you to be mindful about how different parts of yourself feel. They may also encourage you to have a conversation with the parts. IFS has been found to be incredibly healing for people.
People can engage in couples and marriage counseling, child counseling, trauma informed counseling and many other challenges. Through engaging with ourselves, we are able to create room for compassion and empathy to move forward.
Sara Schapiro-Halberstam, LMHC