Internal Family Systems
Internal Family Systems as a Therapy
IFS is a therapeutic model that treats these “parts” as internal entities, quite literally like our own internal family system. And just like a family in the external world, the internal family can experience chaos, conflict, and suffering. When a person experiences intense or prolonged stress, abuse, or trauma, these “parts” try to help the person by becoming more intense, which is adaptive at the time. Sadly, this same intense response can be triggered in subsequent situations, which can be disruptive to the individual. For example, Anxiety that helps a child detect or escape abuse may later encourage the individual to avoid activities such as school, work, driving, or socializing. IFS views these responses as expressions of the “Parts” that are trying to help but cannot realize they are now causing distress. The Internal Family Systems therapist acts as a guide to help the individual learn to trust, communicate with and cooperate with their parts, and eventually heal those wounded parts.