What is IFS Therapy?


What is IFS? IFS stands for Internal Family Systems.

IFS is
• a theory of personality,
• a therapeutic approach ,
• a way of life.

What is IFS – a theory of personality

The theory of personality states the multiplicity of the mind is a natural element of the human experience. Subpersonalities called Parts are present in each of us. They help us perform in the world. It is only when circumstances force them into tragic roles that Parts may impair our functioning. And it is not the Parts that are to blame, but the roles they play that are problematic.

In fact, Parts always have the best of intentions. It is the strategies they adopt to carry out those intentions that are sometimes tragic. IFS is non-pathologizing.

Parts are organized in systems similar to family systems (hence the name Internal Family Systems). They centered around an innate and incorruptible core called Self.

What is IFS – a therapeutic approach

The pioneer and discoverer of IFS Richard Schwartz found that Self radiates qualities attributed in many religious traditions to enlightened beings, like compassion, curiosity, creativity, connectedness, confidence, or calm. It exists in everyone, unaltered, even if it doesn’t manifest itself.

IFS therapy consists in helping clients access Self, and the resources it offers, so they can heal themselves. The therapist is no longer playing a central role. The Internal Family Systems therapist becomes a guide on the journey of discovery the client takes. It is a distinctive characteristic of IFS as many therapeutic models focus on the therapist-client relationship.

The healing happens between the client’s Self and their subpersonalities, by restoring trust and warmth and letting go of unhelpful beliefs and other burdens

Internal Family Systems is very empowering in that sense. It assumes clients already have everything they need to heal. Step by step they become experts in accessing Self. Even in challenging situations and able to repair all breaches of trust and internal conflicts as they happen. As internal systems impact external systems and vice versa, personal healing translates into better interactions with the world around us and people’s internal systems as well.

Read more about Self-energy in IFS.

What is IFS – a way of life

This is when IFS becomes a way of life. It consists of regular maintenance of Self to Part and Part to Part relationships, with Self taking the lead and acting as a mediator to work out a balance between multiple needs and urgencies and designing solutions that work for all.

With time, we observe Self asserts its presence in our life. It gives us a compassionate lens, a fair amount of playfulness, and sheds new light on the way people around us manifest in the world, with their Parts and their Self.

Do you want to learn more about IFS therapy?
Get access to our free 3-day IFS Online Intro Course.

Founder of Life Architect
Michael Pasterski is founder of Life Architect, Planets and Foundation for Conscious Education He is also the author of the “Insight. Road to Mental Maturity” book and blog about psychology and personal development which are read by more than a million people a year. You will find English version of blog on Pasterski.com. Every day he works as a coach and personal development trainer.

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