We know that there are different parts of our identity. “I enjoy yoga and reading but also like to explore things about the world.” or “I am a mother, wife, and therapist” but as I further study a therapeutic approach that looks at the different inner parts of Self, a different way to heal the past emerges. With the Internal Family Systems model (IFS), a client learns to identify the parts that have been created to survive past trauma or negative experiences. There are also protective factors that can cause distress and dysfunction also. Sometimes the parts that are created are negative for an individual and for their relationships. Think of all of these inner parts as members of a family that were created for a purpose and interact with each other and affect each other.
Does this sound like multiple personalities?! It’s not. Think more of different wounded internal entities (created by trauma or negative experiences) and separate sections to be protective or battle these negative parts of self. The initial goal of IFS is to identify them and realize when they are affecting you. This leads to rational thought that can decrease a negative emotional reaction that may be triggered or experienced when these parts are being tapped into.
So, really looking at ourselves, including the parts that we don’t like, can heal us. We can separate them from an experience or reaction to something in life. We can acknowledge each part and keep it in its place.
This model appeals to my practice so much at this time because of its acceptance of who we are as individuals and what we have developed to cope. Also, the ability to identify but not react to impulses that have been relied upon for a long time gives hope for a healthier, happier life. Much of this work should be done with a therapist trained in IFS but next time you are experiencing a negative emotion, you can think rationally about why this part may have been created. Think of it as separate from the others parts of you and that it can be experienced but not reacted to.
Howevelways seek the counsel of a trained psychotherapist when you are utilizing any treatment technique.