Internal Family Systems Therapy

I first learned about Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) in the book “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk (I highly, highly recommend reading this book if you’d like to learn more about trauma and the body).

IFS is described as a transformative, evidence-based model of psychotherapy. The belief is that the mind is naturally multiple and that is a good thing. Our inner parts contain valuable qualities and our core Self knows how to heal, allowing us to become integrated and whole. In IFS all parts are welcome. (definition taken from the IFS Institute website)

This approach really intrigued me as I am very aware that I have multiple “parts” in my head – a part that is upset with me when I make a mistake, a part that is constantly scanning my environment for danger and possible threats, a part that is skeptical and doesn’t trust anyone,… and on and on.

The idea is that we befriend these parts that have been working so hard to try to keep us safe. For childhood trauma, these parts are “stuck” in the past situation that prompted them to take on these protective behaviours. Part of the IFS work is helping the parts to understand that they are no longer in the threatening situation and that they can relax and stop doing the protective work they’ve been doing for so long. As these protective parts are able to let go, the deeper, hurt parts of the person are able to be healed. And all the parts can become integrated into a healthy system. For a much better explanation and introduction of IFS Therapy, check out this article with accompanying video.

It’s taken me a few years to find an IFS therapist (online), as I couldn’t find one that I could see in Saskatoon. I’m really glad that I’ve found one and I’m making progress with working with my “parts” and healing my trauma. There is one IFS therapist in Saskatoon, and unfortunately, I can’t see him – as he’s my husband! If you’re looking for a therapist and are curious about IFS, check out Cairis Counselling. He provides in-person and online counselling services.