What Is Internal Family Systems Therapy?
“Due to circumstances beyond my control, I am the master of my fate and captain of my soul.” – D Hofstadter
Internal Family Systems (IFS) is an approach to psychotherapy that identifies and addresses multiple sub-personalities or families within each person’s mental system. IFS is an evidenced based and integrative approach to individual psychotherapy developed by Richard C. Schwartz. IFS has been shown to be effective for treating a variety of conditions, as well as improving general functioning and well-being.
IFS focuses on the relationships between our psyche parts and our true Self. The goal of IFS is to have a cooperative and trusting relationship between the Self and each part. There are three different categories of parts: Exiles (wounded and suppressed parts) and Protectors (can come in the form of managers, and fire-fighters, who suppress or distract the self from the exiles). Psychological parts in each of these categories are essentially sub personalities with their own distinct, sometimes extreme ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
The ultimate goal of IFS is to unburden or restore extreme and wounded parts and establish a trusted, healthy, harmonious internal system that is coordinated by the Self.