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Why I love IFS

I love using Internal Family Systems because it is such an effective and gentle modality. I have clients who have said they did therapy for 20 years and didn’t get out of it what they got out of a few months of IFS. Talk therapy is GREAT for support but IFS is a neurobiological modality that can release trauma stuck in the body and mind relatively quickly.  IFS focuses on the body because trauma cannot be healed with the mind alone. 

You may have heard or read about this idea in one of many books such as Dr Peter Levine’s “In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness,” The Body Remembers, or My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem. Internal Family Systems is a neurobiologically-based modality (along with EMDR) which is gaining quickly in popularity because of it’s effectiveness in resolving long standing traumas and their associated symptoms and habit patterns. 

I often ask people if they have seen the movie Inside Out when I’m trying to describe IFS for the first time. Many people have seen the movie but didn’t know it was based on IFS! If you haven’t seen the movie, think about a time when you felt confused and had a lot of different thoughts. Did it feel like your thoughts and feelings were in a big jumble or knot inside your head and you couldn’t keep anything straight? If you’ve been feeling confused, conflicted, or having trouble making decisions, IFS can be incredibly helpful. It taps into our capacity for calm, clarity, and creativity. 

The primary idea behind IFS is that each of us is made up of multiple different parts of ourselves. If you ever said to yourself “I really want to go to that (concert, game, etc) but I know I should stay home and do my (housework, homework etc)” you’ve already experienced that there are often different needs and wants within one person. IFS takes this idea several steps further and suggests a model of our personality where we all have multiple parts or aspects of ourselves and this is normal and healthy. Using IFS we can learn to sort out these parts and untie the knots so we can think more clearly. IFS is also very helpful for working with intrusive thoughts or feelings. 

If you’d like to read a little bit about IFS without investing too much time or energy, try this very engaging comic book.  Parts can show up as thoughts, feelings, body sensations, images, or memories and we can work with them in session to help you reduce anxiety, depression, or feelings of unworthiness. IFS involves some use of present moment awareness and is very helpful for people who feel disconnected from their bodies. 

Before I learned to do IFS as a clinician, certain types of “work” that took me years with clients is now taking me months.  Because I do “deep” healing work with my clients, the therapeutic process does still take months to years because we don’t stop when symptoms get just a little bit better. My approach is to get to the root of difficulties, reclaim aspects of the self that you may never thought were possible, and support life long growth and healing. 


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