Internal Family Systems is an approach to therapy which sees human beings as being made up of different parts. You might recognise these in yourself – maybe there’s a part of you that is very self-critical, a part that eats too much, or a part that feels very young and vulnerable.
With IFS we get to know these parts and the relationships they have with each other as a way of re-balancing our system and healing old wounds. There is an assumption that all our parts have good intentions, even if their actions can be inconvenient or even disastrous. There is also an emphasis on taking things very gently and slowly, and not approaching our vulnerable parts until our protective parts feel safe and comfortable about us doing so.
All our different parts contain wisdom, and as we begin to understand the different parts of ourselves better we can have more empathy for their position. If they are doing roles that are strenuous or no longer necessary, we can also help them to transition into roles that they’d -prefer – i.e. our overly-perfectionist part can learn to pay attention to detail but not in an over-the-top way, or the part that binges on food can instead become a gourmand.
In my experience, working in this way is a very effective way of bringing chaotic systems into greater harmony. It greatly improves the client’s own resources, and is something clients can do on their own between sessions and after therapy has ended.