• Your Internal Family: Finding Harmony in the Parts

    Your Internal Family: Finding Harmony in the Parts

    “I’m of two minds about that.”

    “On the one hand…”

    “I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’m excited and scared at the same time.”


    Most of us have said things like this from time to time, but what do these phrases really mean? Internal family systems (IFS) is an approach to therapy that makes sense of internal conflicts by recognizing that the self is subdivided into a number of sub-personalities or “parts.” These parts aren’t always in agreement, which can create confusion and discomfort. They interact in many of the same ways that individual people do, comprising an internal “family” that can be fractious at times.


    Imagine an orchestra with each instrument playing a different piece of music under a conductor who doesn’t fully understand how each instrument sounds or how they should blend. Now, instead imagine the conductor knows the parts and blends the instruments so that each understands where they fit and how they can work together in harmony.


    IFS therapy is a way for the conductor — or the self — to learn how to be the trusted, benevolent leader who understands all the internal parts and helps them play well together. Some parts may be reacting to trauma and have the goal of protecting the self from further trauma. Others may be managers, running day-to-day life and seeking control over other parts.


    IFS therapists believe there are “no bad parts.” All of our parts are trying to help us in some way, even if they’re sometimes causing internal conflict and unsettling feelings. Instead of avoiding the thoughts, sensations, or emotions the part brings, the therapist is a supportive guide helping you — the self — meet and get to know these parts in a way that feels safe.


    The goal is to help you understand the needs of each part of the self — and the needs of the self as a whole. Through this you can gain a greater understanding of — and empathy for — all your parts, so that you, the conductor, can lead more effectively.


    During IFS therapy, you should have an interested therapist who is curious about your goals and experiences and concerned with your comfort and emotional safety during the session. A part may be identified and worked on with the therapist. Other times, a part might just “show up” during a session as a thought, internal voice, emotion or sensation. From that recognition, you and your guiding therapist will then meet the part in a way that feels safe for you.


    In my experience, IFS is a very effective form of therapy. If this form of therapy resonates with you, I suggest reading No Bad Parts, by Richard Schwartz, or visiting the IFS Institute website: ifs-institute.com. If you’d like to learn more about your internal family of parts and helping them live more harmoniously, you can contact me through my website, CouplesTherapyOrlando.com, or by calling me at 407-579-2070.

    Therapy services available via Telehealth.