A Summary of Internal Family Systems Therapy: Your Inner Voices Host a Party (Worksheets Included)

A Summary of Internal Family Systems: A Theater Production

Diving into the world of Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy can be quite an engaging journey.

Picture it as a theater production in which you’re both the star and the director.

IFS helps address and resolve emotional wounds by understanding the conflicting “parts” within a person. Imagine these “parts” like a team of actors, each representing different aspects of your personality.

Now picture the stage where the drama unfolds.

Different scenes depict various aspects of a person’s life, such as handling trauma, stress, and mental health challenges like anxiety and depression.

IFS therapy provides the tools to confront these villains and bring harmony to your internal family. With its integrative and empowering approach, IFS therapy enables you to become the maestro of your own mind, orchestrating the intertwined scenes with grace and clarity.

Key Takeaways

  • IFS therapy helps resolve emotional wounds by addressing conflicting “parts” within you.
  • The approach enables you to manage trauma, stress, and mental health challenges like anxiety and depression.
  • Through IFS therapy, you become the orchestrator of your internal world, restoring harmony and balance.

To skip the fluff and jump right to the action, download our worksheets. One is titled “The Internal Family System Worksheet.” This one is fairly exhaustive, summarizes the therapy well, and provides a thorough exploration of the system within. The second one is titled, “Family Feud IFS Worksheet,” this one is a bit more comical and fun. It is less comprehensive, but likely more memorable.


The Drama of Internal Family Systems Therapy

Internal Family Systems Therapy

You might be wondering what all the fuss is about this thing called Internal Family Systems Therapy, often known as IFS. Well, you’ve come to the right place. 

Developed by Richard Schwartz, IFS is a wildly progressive take on family systems therapy. It isn’t just for families, it works with the many internal parts of you! 

Allow us to introduce a few of the cast members:

  • Managers keep you functioning.
  • Firefighters help you react and deal with distress.
  • Exiles are those parts tucked away that need extra love.

With your internal theater troupe sorted out, you might be wondering how this drama unfolds.

Well, that’s where IFS therapy comes in.

It’s like the world’s best director, helping you understand these parts, their roles, and how they interact. You’ll explore the complexity of your roles as if enjoying a multi-layered novel or attending a riveting play.

Sure, at times, some of the scenes might look chaotic. As you work with IFS therapy, you’ll cultivate a sense of self-leadership, taking center stage and orchestrating your internal ensemble. And, with your newfound repertoire, you’ll soon have every character working in harmony. No more last-minute rewrites or shocking plot twists — just smooth sailing through your emotional landscape.

So, in this magical journey that is Internal Family Systems Therapy, remember that you are the star performer. Grab a front-row seat, uncluttered by false claims or unnecessary jargon. Your very own internal drama awaits! Break a leg, or better yet, breakthrough to a healthier, better-understood you!

Meet the Main Characters: Parts, Self, and Therapists

Internal Family Systems Therapy

To review, first up, we have the Parts.

Imagine each part as a quirky character in your favorite sitcom, playing a specific role in the story of your life. When they’re not wearing their business suits or sweatpants, these parts can be categorized into three groups: managers, firefighters, and exiles. 

Always striving to protect you, these folks handle various tasks that make up your intricate internal family. Aren’t they just the sweetest?

Now, let’s introduce you to the best friend you never knew you needed: your Self

The Self is your true essence, the unchanging and authentic core that’s sometimes overshadowed by those pesky Parts running around with their own agendas.

Think of your Self as the calm, collected, wise person that everyone wants to be friends with, but somehow always ends up being the steadying presence during an impromptu karaoke night.

Internal Family Systems Therapy

Last but not least, we present the therapist, the ever-supportive figure who’ll lead you on this healing groove. A professional in the world of mental health, the therapist will serve as the guiding force to navigate your internal landscape. Imagine the scene: they gracefully salsa into the room to help you connect with your inner rhythm, while you twirl towards self-leadership and enhanced consciousness, all with a little cheeky wink (what can I say, am an idealist!).

So, you’ve met the main characters and have a sense of their unique roles. Now it’s time for action! Your job is to let the Therapist facilitate teamwork between Parts and Self, harmonizing relationships within your internal sitcom.

Behind the Scenes: Goals and Focus of IFS

When it comes to the main goal of IFS, it’s all about making sure each family member (or part) within you is harmoniously living together. No more sibling rivalries or weird family gatherings here! IFS aims to heal your parts so they can genuinely cooperate, leading to a more stable and content inner world for you.

In the spotlight of IFS, you’ll often find what we call the eight C’s. These are the core components that IFS therapists focus on:

  • Calm
  • Curiosity
  • Compassion
  • Confidence
  • Clarity
  • Courage
  • Creativity
  • Connectedness

So, while you’re diving deep into your psyche, exploring each family member’s quirks, and figuring out their roles, the eight C’s guide your journey towards inner harmony.

Let’s not forget the 5 P’s!

  • Patience
  • Presence
  • Persistence
  • Perspective
  • Playfulness

As for systems thinking, don’t worry; IFS has it covered. Like a maestro conducting an orchestra, IFS therapists are skilled at seeing the big picture and understanding how each part, their actions, and interactions create the symphony that is your inner life. Armed with this insight, they help you navigate towards a more balanced and satisfying life experience.

Internal Family Systems Therapy
source: https://ifs-institute.com/

Plot Twists: Dealing with Trauma and Stress

Let’s talk about the rollercoaster of life – you know, those moments when everything seems upside down, and your emotions are hanging by a thread. Trauma and stress can come knocking at your door when you least expect it.

In this whirlwind called life, you might face some plot twists that leave you feeling overwhelmed and lost. Trauma can throw you off course and stress can ruffle your feathers, but IFS therapy is like a trusty GPS system to help you navigate through the chaos. It’s all about recognizing your inner voices, giving each of them a warm hug, and working together to overcome adversity.

Internal Family Systems Therapy

Picture it like a family dinner table. You have your protective uncle, the child-like cousin, and the all-knowing grandmother, all with their own opinions on how to handle your struggles. IFS therapy lets everyone have their say, ensuring that all your inner selves are heard. We might be beating a dead horse here, but repetition makes the master!

Now, let’s not forget the magic recipe for healing: trauma-informed treatment.

Like a pinch of salt to your favorite dish, it adds that little something extra to IFS therapy.

Trauma-informed care acknowledges the effects of psychological trauma, sprinkling empathy and understanding into the mix, so you can brew up a delicious concoction of self-compassion and growth.

Supporting Roles: Managers, Exiles, and Firefighters

Let’s take a look at three key supporting roles: managers, exiles, and firefighters.

Managers are like the know-it-all big siblings going around with a clipboard, frowning at the chaos and making sure everything is in order. They believe they’re protecting you from potential embarrassment or failure, but sometimes their micromanaging can get in the way of your growth. You need them around, but don’t let them steal the limelight.

Internal Family Systems Therapy

Exiles carry your deepest emotions and memories, the ones you may have dismissed, silenced, or swept under the rug. Imagine them locked in a broom closet, continually trying to slip through the cracks and make you feel their pain. Your task as a director? Reintegrate these outcasts with empathy and understanding, so they can become your allies and help you create a more authentic life.

Internal Family Systems Therapy

Now, for the firefighters, brace yourself; they are the crash-bang-wallop, impulsive heroes of your internal world. They storm onto the scene whenever they sense an exile surfacing, using any means necessary (addictions, distractions, impulsive behavior) to quell the uprising. Their intentions are good, but, boy, can their overzealous actions lead to collateral damage!

Internal Family Systems Therapy

These three roles—managers, exiles, and firefighters—are like the cast of a series, each with a unique approach to protect and support you.

Remember, you are the director, and it’s in your hands to create harmony among these roles. Make friends with the managers, exiles, and firefighters within you, and soon you’ll discover that internal family systems therapy is not only freeing but radically life-changing.

Setting the Stage: The Role of the Body

The glorious human body! You know, that fleshy vessel that allows you to eat, sleep, and gallivant through life? Yes, that one! In the realm of internal family systems therapy, your body plays quite the starring role.

Your body, believe it or not, holds the key to your emotional landscape. That’s right; it’s like an emotional Atlantis, just waiting to be discovered. Remember that time you felt butterflies in your stomach when you saw your crush? That’s your body keeping score of your emotional state. Quite helpful in guiding us through our individual behavior, wouldn’t you agree?

Internal Family Systems Therapy

Now, let’s talk about body image for a moment.

In internal family systems therapy, the way you perceive your body is as crucial as the body’s actual physical sensations. Those thoughts and feelings about your flesh can shed light on the deeper parts of your psyche. It’s like a carnival mirror reflecting your relationship with yourself and others.

As you explore the wonders of internal family systems therapy, take note of the heavy lifting your body does in this process. It may provide insights into behavioral patterns and unlock the secrets of your inner world. Of course, don’t forget to thank your body for being so magnificently cooperative in this journey of self-discovery. After all, it’s quite literally the bones behind your brilliance!

Remember, much like an avant-garde theater performance, the body provides the stage for your emotions to dance and your psyche to explore. 

Checking the Score: Effectiveness and Criticisms of IFS

First things first, let’s talk about the effectiveness of IFS. While IFS is gaining recognition as a valuable approach to treating a range of psychological issues, research backing up its effectiveness is still growing. 

For instance, a study investigating IFS for complex trauma shows promise in integrating IFS into phase-based trauma treatment. Keep in mind, though, it’s essential to stay updated on the latest findings to make informed decisions about the therapy.

Now, let’s discuss the cost. As with any therapy, the cost of IFS can vary depending on the therapist and their location. You’ve probably heard that therapy doesn’t come cheap, but investing in your mental health is usually worth every penny. So, make sure you shop around and find a therapist with prices that won’t make your wallet cry.

You might be wondering about the resources available for IFS. There are plenty of books, workshops, and training programs for both therapists and individuals looking to learn more about IFS. However, don’t forget that learning from a licensed IFS professional is crucial to ensure you’re doing it right.

Lastly, let’s address the criticisms of IFS therapy. While many people find IFS to be a transformative and helpful experience, others might argue that it can be overly complicated or difficult to grasp. Remember, it’s not uncommon for mental health professionals to have differing opinions on therapy modalities. So, like with any treatment, it’s crucial to find what works best for you.

IFS therapy may have its ups and downs, but as long as you stay informed, you’ll be well prepared to make the best decision for your mental health. And hey, don’t forget to laugh along the way!

Curtain Call: Finding a Therapist and Other Resources

First, let’s address the elephant in the room: finding a therapist who specializes in IFS can be like searching for a needle in the haystack – but fear not! 

Just grab your trusty search engine, type in IFS therapist, and the magical internet fairies will provide you with a list of names. 

Just remember to include your area code – unless you enjoy cross-country road trips for therapy sessions.

Now, let’s talk about resources. If you’re anything like the author, you’re probably an internet-savvy individual who likes to have all the information at your fingertips. Good news! 

There are plenty of incredible resources available for diving deep into the world of IFS therapy while retaining your dry sense of humor. For starters, an excellent book to check out is Self-Therapy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Creating Inner Wholeness Using IFS.

And, of course, we cannot forget about social media. You can follow renowned IFS therapists on social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter to get the latest information and a dash of inspiration because, let’s face it, “A meme a day keeps the therapist away”… or perhaps the opposite, but that’s up to you.

Lastly, don’t forget to reach out to therapists and mental health professionals in your area. They might have some hidden gems in terms of resources, and they’ll be more than happy to share their knowledge – after all, they’ve spent years honing their craft.