What Is an Internal Family Systems Therapist? The Benefits of Internal Family Systems Therapy

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a form of psychotherapy that was developed in the 1980s by Richard C. Schwartz, Ph.D. This type of therapy seeks to understand how our “internal family”—or different parts of ourselves—interact with each other and how these interactions can be used to lead to personal growth and healing. An Internal Family Systems therapist works on the understanding that we all have an innate ability to heal ourselves, and their goal is to help us access that power within us.

Let’s take a closer look at what this therapy entails and the benefits it offers.

What Is an Internal Family System Therapist?

An Internal Family Systems therapist is someone who has been trained in this particular approach to psychotherapy and understands how to guide clients through their individual internal family systems work.

They use a variety of techniques to help clients learn more about their emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and behaviours in order to heal from past trauma or current stressors. These include behavioural techniques, traditional talk therapy, and mindfulness practices to help clients gain insight into their own inner selves and better manage their emotions.

Additionally, Internal Family Systems therapists use other forms of therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT).

During Internal Family Systems sessions, therapists work with clients to identify these sub-personalities and explore how they interact with each other within the individual’s overall system. The goal is for the client to gain insight into how their different parts are influencing their behaviour and feelings so that they can better manage them and create a more harmonious inner life. 

How Does Internal Family Systems Therapy Work?

In Internal Family Systems, the therapist helps the client identify various parts or subpersonalities within themselves, such as the protector, critic, child, or teacher.

This type of therapy is based on the idea that everyone has an “internal family” comprised of multiple parts, all with their own needs, desires, and capabilities.

An experienced Internal Family Systems therapist will use a combination of talk therapy sessions along with mindfulness practices such as meditation or guided imagery exercises in order to help individuals understand their individual internal family systems better and uncover any underlying issues causing distress or difficulty in life.

Through this process, individuals learn to recognize patterns in their behaviour and then work on changing them by utilizing techniques such as reframing or redirecting thoughts.

The goal is for individuals to become more aware of their inner workings so they can make positive changes in both thought processes and behaviours.

Benefits of Internal Family Systems Therapy

The main benefit of IFS therapy is that it helps individuals gain insight into their internal workings in order to better manage difficult emotions and experiences.

By exploring each part of the self – the “exiles,” “managers,” “firefighters,” etc. – clients can begin to understand why they behave in certain ways, as well as how these parts interact with each other in order to create balance. Through this process, clients can gain insight into not only themselves but also their relationships with others. 

By understanding our different sub-personalities, we can begin to recognize patterns in our thoughts and behaviour which may be preventing us from reaching our goals or leading a fulfilling life.

For example, if we are frequently feeling overwhelmed or anxious about situations that don’t seem to warrant such intense emotions, IFS can help us identify why these reactions occur so we can learn to better manage them in the future.

Additionally, IFS allows us to recognize when certain sub-personalities are dominating our lives and causing negative behaviours or emotions. This awareness can allow us to work towards resolving these issues so that they don’t continue to have such a powerful hold over us. 

An Internal Family Systems therapist will encourage individuals to take responsibility for their actions rather than blame external forces for any problems they may be facing. It also encourages them to tap into a deeper level of self-compassion which can help foster healthier relationships with others as well as greater overall happiness with life.

IFS has been found effective for different types of mental health conditions

IFS therapy has been found to be an effective treatment for depression, anxiety, substance abuse disorders, eating disorders, relationship problems, post-traumatic stress disorder, and many other mental health issues.

As the client identifies their inner parts and explores their stories, they can gain control their own emotions, rather than letting them control him or her. This allows the client to move forward in life with greater understanding and clarity about themselves as well as those around them. 

Final Thoughts on IFS Therapy

Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy is an effective form of talk therapy which helps individuals explore and understand the different parts or “sub-personalities” that make up their personality.

Working with an experienced Internal Family Systems therapist can help individuals better recognize patterns in their thoughts and behaviour which may be preventing them from reaching their goals or leading a fulfilling life.

By understanding our different sub-personalities through this type of therapy, we can learn how best to manage them going forward for improved mental health outcomes.

Ultimately, this type of therapy can offer many invaluable benefits including increased self-awareness, self-responsibility, and self-compassion which are all essential components for leading a happier and more fulfilling life.

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