I have been excited about internal family systems therapy for a long time now (maybe coming on a year), and I'm just reaching the end of my initial training in it.
Why is it something that excites me?
It allows and will allow my clients to go way DEEPER in their approach to their health and healing, their relationship to their body, exercises and food.
It is a complete paradigm shift compared to conventional 'therapy'
Let me explain first what I mean by a paradigm shift, and then perhaps that will explain the potential for our health
Most teachings and therapy focus on this idea of 'one mind'. IFS instead sees the mind as made of multiple 'parts' e.g. a part of me feels great for eating satisfying food, and another part feels guilt and lobbies criticism at me after I've eaten it. Another example: a part of me is looking forward to the weekend, and another part of me is worried about how much I have to get done: and another part thinks I'm totally over-thinking this!
The thing I LOVE about parts:
- we all have parts; they have always been there.
- ALL parts have a good intention. Even parts who wreck destruction on our lives actually are trying to help (and think that their way is the only way to help and protect us). There are truly no bad parts.
- IFS is therefore completely non-pathologising (non-labelling)
The second thing about IFS is the idea that there is 'Self'. Self is calm, courageous, compassionate and open and is the natural leader of our system. As our parts come into contact with Self, the healing capacity is ENORMOUS. And because Self is you (the true you), it comes entirely from within. We don't just talk about our problems and think our way to solutions. In IFS, you offer deep and true healing to yourself.
I get it if these ideas sound downright WEIRD. I tried explaining some of it to my husband and that was his reaction. And it might be weird, given we've never tried relating to ourselves in this way before. (I've included a book suggestion at the bottom here so that if you're interested you can learn a little more about it, its history and its evidence base.)
But I would also say it's from my own training and experience with it, IFS is also revelatory, permanently healing and downright MAGIC therefore at times.
IFS can be used to help you with (and what I've used it with already with my clients):
- criticizing yourself
- people pleasing
- handling feedback
- understanding behaviours and patterns
- letting yourself rest and burning out
- having more self-compassion
- expressing your creativity
- making a big decision
- difficult relationship with your body, self-image, weight and confidence
- relationship to food
- sticking to a habit
- all or nothing mindset
Right now, as I'm at the end of my training, I'm offering some IFS sessions at a much reduced rate (and for free if you're an existing client!). If you think you might be interested, pop me a quick email at email@example.com
'No Bad Parts' by Richard Schwartz
(This is the one of the more easily digestible books on it, written by the 'discoverer' of IFS; if you'd like anything more in depth let me know and I can point out some other books/podcasts).
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