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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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!

Internal Family Systems Main Page Grand Rapids

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).

Therapists For Internal Family Systems Therapists in Grand Rapids

Josh Zheng

Holistic psychotherapy utilizing an integrated approach of somatic, emotion- focused and cognitive-behavioral traditions.

Lindsey Beaver

Trauma Informed Counseling & EMDR for Teens, Young Adults and Adults

Shanna Beebe

A non-judgemental space for deep healing from trauma, abuse, and relationship wounds.

Taylor Freund

Trauma Informed and Internal Family Systems informed Counseling for Adults

Anna Utter

EMDR, DBT Skills, and Trauma-Informed Therapy for Adults and Teens

Contact Us Today! (We'll get back to you by the next business day)

All of the Counselors at The Trauma-Informed Counseling Center of Grand Rapids have undergone extensive additional training in order to help you:

Following graduate school, all of the counselors at The Trauma-Informed Counseling Center of Grand Rapids (located inside Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids) have received extensive training in understanding the latest scientific research on neurobiology and how trauma affects the whole person. In addition, all of our therapists have learned at least one, trauma-specific intervention modality, which they have added to their toolbox of techniques in order to best help all people who seek help. This means, that they not only have the same training as your average counselor or therapist in Grand Rapids, MI to conduct traditional counseling and talk-therapy, but they have additional tools and information that will be helpful to people who are looking for more than a “solution-focused brief approach” or a strictly “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)” approach. More good news: Our therapists all know how to utilized Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Solution-Focused Brief Therapy and interweave those modalities into their personal style. And so, if you are seeking that type of counseling—we also can provide it.

Success Stories

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A Health for Life Client

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John Lynch, MDiv, LCSW

Professional Clinician

“Paul, I think I know why I can be open with you and not all of the other counselors I have seen. Because I deep down truly and fully and in my heart BELIEVE that you CARE, about me, and…” Read More

A Health for Life Client

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Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids is a multi-faceted clinic that aims to help the whole person in a holistic manner. Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids houses the Trauma-Informed Counseling Center of Grand Rapids, Individual Therapists, Couples Counselors, Child Therapists, Family Therapists, and produces a variety of Health Courses (available online), as well as free health blogs and youtube videos. We’re your one-stop-shop for getting to the root of what is troubling you and helping you on your journey of healing.

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