Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy

What is Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy?

Internal Family Systems (IFS) looks at our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, behaviors, and even physical sensations at times as separate “parts” of who we are. Often times these “parts” are what lead us to seek therapy in the first place (the part of us that struggles to control our anger, the part of us that fears intimate relationships, the part of us that feels depressed or anxious, the part of us that can’t stop engaging in unhealthy habits). Something very important to know about our “parts” is that they are usually the youngest, most vulnerable pieces of who we are. They feel afraid, misunderstood, hurt, and overwhelmed. With this in mind, the whole point of using IFS is to meet those “parts” exactly where they are at, and to offer them kindness, support, validation, and above all else, safety. Our hurting “parts” often express themselves through intense emotional outbursts, deep fear, addiction, bodily pain, depression, suicidal thoughts/self-harm, and difficulty maintaining healthy intimate relationships. 

The second, and equally important thing to understand about IFS, is that we are not only our “parts.” Each person also has a “highest Self.” This highest self is who we truly are at our very core. This highest self is compassionate towards its parts, curious to understand what it’s parts need, caring and courageous in exploring painful memories and feelings. This highest Self is what allows us to heal our parts, and to feel whole. And the most amazing thing about our highest Self is that we don’t have to try to create it, it is always there, often hiding just below the surface of all our emotional suffering. 

What can IFS help with?

IFS is an incredibly adaptable and useful approach to therapy. IFS was originally created to help those recovering from eating disorders, but has also  been shown to be effective in helping those who struggle with:

  • Trauma and PTSD
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and Panic
  • Addiction
  • Suicidal thoughts and self-harming behaviors
  • Issues related to intimate relationships (ex. struggling to trust others, difficulty in expressing or controlling emotions with others, deep feelings of fear or unsafety with others, codependent behaviors) 
  • Grief 
  • Guilt and Shame 

Techniques Used in IFS

IFS can feel strange to most people at first, because it requires us to sit, close our eyes, and simply listen to what our “parts” are trying to say to us. It’s a bit different than normal talk therapy. 

When an IFS therapy session begins, we listen to our physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts pertaining to a specific personal struggle. These “parts” of ourselves will most often show up as a physical sensation in our body, as memories or images, or even as a repetitive or strong thought. After we (the counselor and client) have found the part that requires our attention, we will begin to ask this part questions, get curious about what this part wants to say, explore why this part behaves the way that it does, and determine what needs to happen for this part to feel safe, cared for, and healed. 

Something unique and important to note about this process is that we don’t have to purposefully imagine or conjure up thoughts, sensations, emotions, or memories that we think we are supposed to focus on. Our “parts” have a great way of letting our highest Self know what needs to be worked on. All you have to do is remain curious, compassionate, and ready to learn something new. 

How is IFS therapy different than other forms of counseling?

IFS therapy is unique because it is non-pathologizing, which is just a fancy way of saying that people are not seen as broken. IFS recognizes that all of our unhealthy or difficult behaviors, thoughts, and emotions are simply an indication that we are hurting and that we have learned to believe things  about ourselves that aren’t necessarily true. 

Rather than focusing purely on our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions, IFS dives deep into the reason WHY these thoughts, behaviors, and emotions even exist. It is at this level that we begin to find real healing and hope for a way forward. 

300 Garden of the Gods Rd, Ste 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
(719) 428-2952

Got Questions?
Send a Message!

By submitting this form via this web portal, you acknowledge and accept that risks of communicating your health information via this unencrypted email and electronic messaging and wish to continue despite those risks. By clicking "Yes, I want to submit this form" you agree to hold Brighter Vision harmless for unauthorized use, disclosure, or access of your protected health information sent via this electronic means.

*Responses to inquiries often go to spam. Please check spam/ junk folder if.