What Is Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy?

What is Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy?

In the current rise of awareness about mental health and the importance of asking for therapeutic help, the collective imagination around what therapy is remains unchanged. In most cases, when people imagine what therapy will be like, they imagine more or less the same situation. Sitting in front of a psychologist, talking about what hurts and torments them, and waiting for feedback that will help them reconfigure their mind.

However, in psychological therapy there is a wide diversity of approaches and ways of approaching the restorative process of each patient. In this article, we are going to talk about a novel approach: Internal Family Systems Therapy. Barely 30 years old, instead of revolving around diagnostic labels or pathologies, it focuses on the connection with our own psychological interior in a healing way that revolves around attachment.

History and origins of the IFS

To begin, it is important to review the historical origins of Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) to understand where it comes from and under what pretexts. IFS has its roots in the 1990s, when it was developed by psychotherapist Richard Schwartz. Schwartz was inspired by observing the way certain parts of the psyche can lead to repetitive and dysfunctional patterns. He proposed like this an innovative approach to understanding and addressing these internal dynamics without having the pathologizing objective that other therapeutic approaches have.

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The IFS also has influences from the shamanic tradition and therapies oriented toward introspection and far from rational or mathematical sciences. Over the years, this methodology has gained recognition and acceptance in the therapeutic field, expanding beyond individual psychotherapy to address family and group dynamics. The journey of the IFS from its beginnings some 30 years ago to its current situation stands out for its impact and ability to transform conventional understandings of the mind and emotional well-being.

Basic principles of Internal Family Systems Therapy

Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) is guided by two fundamental principles, and is considered a philosophy and therapeutic approach that redefines the relationship between the mind and the experiences we have as people. The IFS posits that the psyche is made up of different “parts,” each having its own function and purpose. These parts can hold emotions, memories and beliefs, and often operate independently, thereby influencing our behavior and emotional well-being.

1. The “self”

The central concept of IFS is the “self”, the inner essence of each person that possesses qualities such as compassion, wisdom and balance. IFS therapy focuses on cultivating and strengthening the connection we have with the self, seeking to allow a more harmonious relationship with the internal parts. Through guided exploration, the individual learns to recognize and understand the needs and motivations of each party, encouraging authenticity and self-regulation.

2. Anti-pathologization and pro-attachment

The other main component of the IFS is its intention to move away from pathologization and diagnostic labels. Taking distance from purely clinical approaches, The IFS is a model that proposes that all people have the capacity to heal and heal ourselves, becoming our own main attachment figure. Getting to understand ourselves as an attachment figure helps to heal, through the self, the most damaged parts of our personality or traumatic experiences.

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The therapeutic process

The practical application of Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) is deployed through a unique and transformative therapeutic process, far removed from more conventional clinical approaches. During the sessions, the therapist guides the individual in exploring and understanding the different parts of the interior of their psyche. This inner journey involves identifying emotions, memories or beliefs rooted in each part, unraveling the emotional knots that have persisted over time.

As these parts are recognized, a compassionate dialogue is established between the self and each of them. The self, acting as a wise internal leader, seeks to understand the positive intentions behind the parts, thus deactivating self-destructive patterns. This process not only promotes deep self-reflection, but also nurtures a healthier and more balanced relationship with ourselves.

IFS is not limited to individual therapy; adapts to family and group dynamics. By exploring the interactions between the parts of different individuals, systemic patterns can be addressed and more effective communication encouraged. Inner Family Systemic Therapy, with its innovative approach, offers a path to inner transformation and healthier relationships, guiding people toward a fuller, more authentic life.

Advantages and challenges

Internal Family Systemic Therapy (IFS) has a number of significant advantages. By recognizing and embracing the various parts of the psyche, self-acceptance and deep understanding are encouraged. This methodology not only addresses surface symptoms, but dives into the roots of emotional challenges.

However, IFS implementation is not without challenges. It requires a significant commitment on the part of the individual to explore the deeper layers of her being. Additionally, the process of working with internal parts can generate initial resistance. Despite these challenges, IFS stands out as a valuable tool for personal transformation and sustainable emotional well-being.

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In conclusion, Internal Family Systemic Therapy (IFS) emerges as a powerful therapeutic approach, illuminating the complexity of the human mind. By unraveling internal dynamics, IFS offers a path to authenticity and emotional balance. Its innovative principles and ability to address not only the individual, but also the systemic, position this therapy as a beacon of hope. On the journey toward self-exploration and healing, IFS stands out as a catalyst for a more fulfilled and connected life.