Internal Family Systems Therapy is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy first developed in the early 1990's by Dr Richard Schwartz.
All of us will be familiar with the experience of sometimes being in "two minds" about how to respond to a particular situation. At times we may also find ourselves with conflicting thoughts and feelings about things that have happened in the past, or may even experience day to day fluctuations in our emotions that don't seem to make much sense. Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) understands such experiences as normal and a manifestation of the multiple "parts" that comprise our psychological make-up.
When our various parts are integrated and working in harmony, we may not have much awareness of them. When our parts are in balance, we can also access the innate positive qualities that we all have at our core. However, starting from when we are very young, particular parts can take on the burden of painful or traumatic experiences. When this happens, other parts will take action to re-organise in an attempt to protect us and prevent us from feeling emotionally overwhelmed.
At one level the way our parts re-organise to protect us may allow us to continue functioning quite well, with painful thoughts and feelings mostly out of awareness. However, another consequence of this process is that we can find ourselves feeling confused, stressed, fearful or exhausted.
A major goal of IFS is to help us get to know our parts and ways they have tried to protect us. Working in this way can help our internal system to return to balance and get us back in touch with the innate resources we have to get the most out of life.