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Internal Family Systems

Internal Family Systems - IFS

IFS is an evidence-based integrative psychotherapy approach. It combines elements from different schools of psychology, such as the multiplicity of the mind, mindfulness, systems thinking and others. It offers a non-pathologizing model of understanding and exploring our own inner world, our own triggers and problems that we’re facing.

The model states that our personalities are made up of different aspects or parts (multiplicity of the mind). Each part has its own perspectives, feelings, memories, goals, and motivations. We all have parts like inner critics, caretaker parts, anxious parts, angry parts, pleasers, sad parts, introverted parts, socializing parts…

In the IFS model, we welcome all our parts, relating to them with curiosity, compassion, understanding and appreciation.

IFS is based on the idea that we all have a core, undamaged Self that embodies our essence. The Self has the ability to act not only as a conscious observer of one’s inner world but as an effective and compassionate leader, bringing healing and harmony within one’s inner system.

The Self holds some of our finest resources and qualities - like compassion, curiosity, love, creativity, calmness, courage and wisdom, confidence, connectedness, clarity, patience, perspective, among others, and has the ability to heal extreme or vulnerable parts.

With the help of IFS individuals are able to get in touch with their core Self and are encouraged to get to know their different parts.

IFS identifies three types of parts: wounded and suppressed parts called the Exiles, which are mostly resulting from traumatic childhood experiences; Protective parts that keep us away from the pain of the exiles, preventing that pain to reach our conscience or becoming too intense, so they can maintain an adequate functioning and preserve the harmony of the system. Among the protector parts are the Managers, that keep the exiled parts suppressed – managers are responsible for maintaining a functioning daily life by warding off any unwanted or counterproductive interactions, emotions, or experiences that can activate the exiles; the Firefighters are protective parts who distract us from the pain of exiled parts when they break free from suppression. They prompt us to engage in behaviors that are indulgent, addictive, and oftentimes abusive and impulsive.

IFS focuses on restoring mental balance and harmony by changing the inner dynamics that create conflict. It helps the vulnerable, wounded parts to heal and protector parts to be less extreme, not by pushing them away, but by getting to know them better and understanding their underlying stories, motivations, vulnerabilities and hurts.

When we heal the burdens and wounds carried by the vulnerable parts, the protector parts no longer need to be so extreme, which results in a reduction of symptoms and greater inner harmony and balance.

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“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”


restoring mental balance and harmony