The Healing Power of IFS - Mallory Burggraaf
For many, the battle of conflicting inner selves is a familiar struggle. The challenge of feeling like certain aspects of oneself dominate or constantly engage in a tug-of-war can be frustrating and disheartening.
Richard Schwartz's Internal Family Systems Model offers a refreshing approach to healing through self-awareness. This non-pathologizing technique fosters compassion, trust, honesty, and encouragement; creating a safe space for clients to discover the unique parts of themselves. By recognizing their strengths and weaknesses, clients can better understand the role these play in their behaviors and emotions, leading to lasting transformation.
Managers, Exiles and Firefighters
According to IFS, the human consciousness is made up of different personalities that all have unique traits. The personalities are referred to as Managers, Exiles, and Firefighters by Schwartz. Managers are responsible for protecting us and controlling our interactions with the outside world. Exiles, on the other hand, are the parts of us that experience negative emotions such as fear and anxiety. Both Managers and Firefighters try to suppress the Exiles to avoid pain. Firefighters, however, take it one step further by trying to distract the Exiles from their negative emotions. This often leads to harmful habits like substance abuse.
Our personalities are made up of various parts, some of which may join forces while others may be at odds with each other. For instance, managers and firefighters collaborate to manage internal conflicts. Meanwhile, a person may feel conflicted - wanting to express their suffering while trying to suppress it.
How I discovered IFS
For so long I know I personally have struggled with different parts of myself coming up feeling like they take over. When I started learning Internal Family Systems or parts work, it helped me realize there could be ways to work with these parts as they arise and build an intentional relationship with them instead of feeling disempowered and frustrated with myself. IFS provides an opportunity to work with these parts intentionally, rather than feeling overwhelmed and helpless. With this approach, rather than being controlled by these internal dynamics, we can learn to engage with and build healthier relationships with our own psyche.
As I learned IFS and ways to identify and name these parts as they arose, I started to feel compassion for them and the roles and functions they served in my life. Instead of fighting with them I was able to turn towards them, understand the function they were serving and care for them. Ironically, in caring for them they were able to calm and let me take the lead instead of vying for control. As I’ve gained awareness of different parts of myself and the roles they serve in my life, I’m able to notice them as they come up and care for them. As a result of that I am feeling less fearful and overwhelmed.
IFS has transformed my life by helping me connect with younger parts of myself that have been stuck in the past yearning to be seen and understood. It has given me the tools to heal from past wounds, quiet my inner critic, and cultivate self-compassion. By exploring my emotions and experiences, I have learned to reconnect with joy and feel more safe and embodied in my everyday life. I am incredibly passionate about the power of IFS and love sharing this transformative framework with my clients.
Learning IFS has given me so much freedom in my personal life in how I navigate my relationship with myself and others. I feel passionately about parts work and the doors to understanding and compassion it opens up and get so excited to share this framework with my clients in helping them connect with themselves and their different parts as they arise.
The Benefits of IFS
IFS believes that everyone has a core self that is rooted in empathy and interdependence. Instead of honing in on individual parts, IFS encourages individuals to embrace and work together with all parts to find deeper understanding and self-awareness. By embracing this method, individuals can access their true selves and live more harmonious lives.
If you have experienced trauma in your past, IFS can be an effective treatment modality to help you heal, grow and move forwards in life. In my personal practice I love combining IFS with body-based modalities like Somatic Experiencing and DARe Attachment Coaching.
I've found the combination of these three modalities can be incredibly effective and beneficial. Together they can offer a concrete map of understanding your inner experience and build bridges towards cultivating curiosity, self compassion and empowerment in your life.
When utilized in harmony, these three modalities are a powerful trio offering a roadmap to comprehending your innermost thoughts and emotions. Their joint effect presents an opportunity to foster self-awareness, empathy, and confidence. This trifecta also provides a structure for gaining insight into your psyche and gaining the necessary tools to navigate through various struggles. With the integration of these modalities, you can understand yourself and your inner world more better and develop tools, resources, and support to guide you in exploring, processing, and bringing healing to your different parts.
What I love most about IFS is that it gives us access to that glimmer of hope and compassion during hard times, when our protector part can often be really hard on us when we’re already stressed or worried. With IFS, you can cultivate a deeper relationship with yourself, and gain a sense of clarity and choice, which can be transformative in your life.
How I work & what to expect from an IFS session
As a therapist, I prioritize creating a supportive and nurturing environment for my clients. Rather than judgment, I offer kindness and compassion, as well as a focus on consent throughout our work together. Most importantly, I believe in the power of tuning into one's body, relationships, and inner selves, in order to facilitate a more authentic and manageable experience.
We aren't meant to journey through life alone, which is why I aim to offer a space where clients can truly be seen and appreciated for who they are. This recognition can lead to powerful transformations, discovering newfound joy and self-acceptanceIf this resonates with you, I’d love to hear from you and see if we may be a great fit in working together. Schedule your free consultation call today or e-mail me directly at email@example.com !
Thank you for taking this brave step to seek care for yourself. You are so very worth it!
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