INTERNAL FAMILY SYSTEMS

All Parts Are Welcome

I have good news for you: a well of compassionate, curious energy resides within the core of your being, a seed of creativity and calm that has the buoyancy to weather any storm, a foundation of confidence and courage that knows when to rise and take action, and a web of connectedness and clarity that sees that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Imagine this: at the core of every person resides the capacity to heal. All of the emotional tumult you’ve experienced, all of the pain wrought by other’s choices and your own. We each have within us a Self just as the sun forever resides behind the clouds, a well of healing leadership that can lead us into the lives we long to live.

Does this sound too good to be true? If a sun resides within, why can’t you find it? Parts, who have good intentions and originally adaptive behaviors, cover Self like clouds blanket the sun, obscuring it from our view yet never getting rid of it. Maybe a part that gets anxious remains hypervigilant, forever trying to protect your from loss. Maybe a part trying to polish your words and deeds to perfection, keeps you forever in your head. Or a part uses depression to pull you under and not take risks. Parts take on a myriad of jobs that were originally adaptive and protected us from pain, shame, danger and loss.

The past is the present, only ever a synapse away. The brain is an incredible thing, worth eons of study and awe, so complex and efficient. As children, our onboarding neural system learned from the environment around us and created a foundational template for engaging the world. In IFS counseling, we get curious toward interactions in the present. The part that floods you with somatic sensations of anger, what’s its job? What would happen if it didn’t make you angry? The part flooding you with shame, when did it first take on these emotions? As we come to witness when and how parts took on their jobs and emotions, Self is able to offer the care those parts needed back then and support the parts in updating. Parts get stuck—sort of frozen in time—when they went through difficult, shaping experiences, so a key aspect of IFS work is updating. In updating, we introduce parts to Self, letting them see that you’ve made it through and are now an adult who is able to offer resources and care to your parts in a way that wasn’t possible as a child.  

If it isn’t clear by this point, I’m delighted to lead people in the healing process laid out by IFS. If you’re looking for a space to integrate your personhood and grow ever closer to the light within, please reach out. I’d love the opportunity to journey alongside you.

Some of my favorite IFS resources include:

No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model by Richard Schwartz

Greater Than the Sum of Our Parts: Discovering Your True Self Through Internal Family Systems by Richard Schwartz

Introduction to the Internal Family Systems Model by Richard Schwartz

Toni Herbine-Blank’s meditation CD

Parts Work: An Illustrated Guide to Your Inner Life by Tom Holmes