Internal Family Systems

Mountaineous Landscape

I am a Certified Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapist through the IFS Institute. 

IFS is an attachment-based approach that proposes that we are each a complex system of various subpersonalities or 'parts.' As psychoanalyst and expert within the field of traumatic dissociation, Philip Bromberg, so poignantly explains, the mind is "non-unitary in origin; it is a structure that originates and continues as a multiplicity of self-other configurations...that maturationally develop a coherence and continuity that comes to be experienced as a cohesive sense of personal identity--an overarching feeling of 'being a self.'" Basically, think Disney's Inside Out.

 

According to IFS, every part (or "self-other configuration" according to Bromberg) is intent on somehow helping the system; there is no such thing as a 'bad part.' However, like members of a family, each part harbors specific experiences, worldviews, relational strategies, and wisdom that may or may not conflict with those of other parts. Over time, certain parts may be forced to adapt to trauma in a way that results in those parts becoming more aggressive, inflexible, or isolated. In IFS terminology, the part then becomes "burdened;" some refer to this process of harsh adaption as 'taking a bullet' for the sake of the system. A primary objective of IFS is to access these "burdened" parts in order to understand their origin and purpose, and to respectfully relate to them instead of attempting to rid them. It is assumed that the more painful the burden created by trauma (often carried by what is known as an "exile"), the more heavily armored protective parts become. 

 

Additionally, this model posits that we are all born with a unique "Self," the intrapsychic core responsible for healing in our lives. Some of my prior clients have experienced the "Self" as a “light within,” an embodied sense of physical relief, a guide, “the natural me, just me,” a connective bridge to God, and so on. In IFS, the strengthening of part-to-part and Self-to-part relationships ultimately produces the opportunity for internal balance and harmony, known as a "Self-led" life. 

Quoted material was derived from the following source:

Bromberg, P. (1998). Standing in the spaces: Essays on clinical process, trauma, and dissociation. New York, NY: Psychology Press.