Internal Family Systems
Internal Family Systems (also known as IFS) is an approach to psychotherapy that is empowering, non-pathologizing and transformative. Internal Family Systems is a holistic, evidence-based approach that offers lasting, dramatic relief from conditions such as depression, anxiety, and trauma by targeting “root issues” (i.e. trauma, abuse, neglect, early childhood/adolescent experiences, attachment injuries) instead of focusing on symptom reduction.
What is Internal Family Systems?
Internal Family Systems is a psychotherapy method that makes two bold and yet strangely intuitive claims about the mind, body and human condition:
- Multiplicity of the Mind: Your mind is made up of multiple sub-personalities and this is normal.This does not mean you are crazy or have dissociative identity disorder!
- Systems Thinking: Your mind and its sub-personalities function like a “family” with its own unique structure, organization, boundaries and interactions. Trauma, neglect and abuse cause the system to reorganize itself to survive in the short-term, but can cause long term mental health issues.
If you’re not convinced or skeptical – that’s normal! Consider the following:
- Addiction: Have you ever felt one part of you wanting to keep using/abusing, and at the same time another part of you is whispering or screaming “Don’t do it! You know it’s not good for you!”
- Relationships: Have you ever felt one part of you saying “I love X person so much and always want to do right by them” and then wonder how another part of you sometimes gets triggered and lashes out or acts totally unlike you?
- Depression: Have you ever felt one part of you saying “I know that doing X always helps me feel better” but another part of you fills you with thoughts “It’s not worth it, I don’t feel like doing it anyway”
- Personality: Have you ever thought to yourself “I wish I could get rid of the part of me that feels/does/is X, Y, or Z!”
These internal contradictions and statements are easily explained by Multiplicity of the Mind and Systems Thinking! We all have parts with conflicting agendas, needs, and ideas!
What is it like working with Internal Family Systems?
Internal Family Systems is about creating a space of curiosity, compassion and courage where you will work to:
- Learn powerful tools to become aware of these parts and conflicting needs and drives in your life.
- Become more self-aware and develop deep insight into the inner systems that control your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
- Be empowered to make changes to how you think, feel, and relate to yourself internally.
- Learn that you are capable of healing and releasing past trauma on your own.
- Make changes to how you behave, engage with others and understand the world around you.
The goal of Internal Family Systems therapy is for you to walk out of your time in psychotherapy fully equipped to continue the work on your own, free of trauma and burdens that have held you back, and in touch with your highest Self!
Who is Internal Family Systems appropriate for?
Internal Family Systems can help virtually anyone with any condition, but may be especially suitable for you if you have experienced any of the following:
- Chronic childhood and adolescent abuse, neglect, trauma (Complex PTSD).
- Extreme behaviors such as addiction, self-harm, and chronic-suicidality.
- Chronic, treatment-resistant anxiety and depression.
- Lack of long-term relief from traditional cognitive, behavioral, and skill-focused approaches (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, traditional talk-therapy/Person-Centered).
Internal Family Systems
Types of Trauma Therapy Available:
All of the Counselors at The Trauma-Informed Counseling Center of Grand Rapids have undergone extensive additional training in order to help you:
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