Internal Family Systems

What is internal family systems therapy?

Internal family systems (IFS) is an approach to therapy that addresses multiple sub-personalities within a person’s mental system to heal wounded parts and painful emotions. These wounded parts often conflict with one’s idea of the Self—a concept that describes the self-assured, empathetic whole person within. By restoring balance within and treating these wounded parts, an individual can begin to function better as a system.

How does internal family systems work?

Internal family systems use theories from the family systems model that poses the idea that one cannot fully be understood in isolation, and therefore must develop strategies to address the wounded internal parts that make up their whole self.

Understanding IFS model begins with 5 basic assumptions:

  • The human mind is subdivided into an unknown amount of parts
  • Everyone has a Self in which should be facilitating the rest of the inner family parts
  • There is no such thing as a “bad part” all parts existing and engaging in non-extreme behaviour can be beneficial to the individual person
  • Personal development can lead to changes in roles creating a healed internal family
  • Changes made to the internal system will affect the external system and vice versa

IFS is an integrative approach to talk therapy that requires acknowledging the different subpersonalities likes, dislikes, burden, and history at each stage of consciousness.

In the IFS model, there is three distinct types of parts:

  1. Managers which are responsible for maintaining functioning by warding off counterproductive reactions induced by external stimuli
  2. Exiles are parts of the individual that are often in a state of pain or trauma. These parts are usually exiled before entering the conscious level of self.
  3. Firefighters are parts that serve is distractors of pain and trauma brought on by exiles. These parts often lead an individual to act on impulses or desires.

When is internal family systems used?

IFS can be used to treat a number of mental health disorders including:

  • Trauma
  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Depression
  • Bipolar
  • Body image issues
  • Anxiety
  • Phobias
  • Substance dependency

During IFS treatment, a therapist will open the session similar to other forms of talk therapy. Overtime, the therapist will draw focus to different aspects of the individual’s internal environment, encouraging them to connect their different parts. There are many exercises utilized in IFS treatment including keeping a journal, utilizing diagrams or illustrations to identify the individual’s parts, relaxations techniques, and more.

What to expect from therapy?

Put simply, you will get out of therapy what you put into it. It’s not a magic solution that will solve all your problems. It may involve you doing some real work and being completely honest with yourself and your therapist. Sometimes facing our truth is the hardest thing of all – but from that discomfort can come healing and growth.

Insight’s therapists are available for in-person, online, or telephone counselling at many locations in Alberta. Contact us to learn more.

Brooke Hendricks

Edmonton South, Online

Adults, Assessments

Loriann Quinlan

Edmonton South, Edmonton West, Online

Adults, Seniors

Terri Mulveney

Edmonton South, Online

Adults, Children (3-5), Children & Youth (6-12), Adolescents (13-17), LGBTQ community

Brandi Enns

Edmonton South, Online

Adults, Families, Couples, LGBTQ community, Sexuality, Assessments

Sabrina Brady

Edmonton Central, Edmonton North, Online

Adults, Adolescents (13-17), Seniors, Couples, LGBTQ community, Sexuality, Assessments

Karla Buchholz

Edmonton South, Online

Adults, Adolescents (13-17), Seniors, Families, Couples, LGBTQ community, Sexuality

Nikesha Deenoo

Edmonton South, Online

Adults, Adolescents (13-17), Seniors, Sexuality

Nicole Donovan

Edmonton South, Online, Sherwood Park

Adults, Children & Youth (6-12), Adolescents (13-17)

Kathryn Maier

Edmonton North, Online

Adults, Children (3-5), Children & Youth (6-12), Adolescents (13-17), Families, Assessments

Cody Cobler

Edmonton North, Online, Sherwood Park

Adults, Children & Youth (6-12), Adolescents (13-17), Families, LGBTQ community

Dawn Doucet Banting

Edmonton South, Online

Adults, Children (3-5), Children & Youth (6-12), Adolescents (13-17), Seniors, Families, Couples, LGBTQ community

Meghan Odsen

Edmonton South, Online

Adults, Adolescents (13-17), Seniors, Families, Couples, LGBTQ community, Sexuality, Assessments

Chantelle Owen

Edmonton Central, Online, Edmonton West

Adults, Adolescents (13-17), Families, Couples, LGBTQ community, Sexuality

Luke Suelzle

Edmonton South, Online, Edmonton Central

Adults, Adolescents (13-17), Families, Couples, Sexuality

Kim Phua

Edmonton North, Online

Adults, Adolescents (13-17), Seniors, Families, Couples, LGBTQ community, Sexuality, Assessments

Brilene Wohlgemuth

Edmonton South, Sherwood Park, Online

Adults, Children & Youth (6-12), Adolescents (13-17), Families, LGBTQ community, Assessments

Dr. Hendriatta Wong

Corporate Services

Shirley Leonard

Corporate Services

Tara-Lee Goerlitz

Corporate Services

Trina Wilson Orieux

Corporate Services

Adults

Leah Cadieux

Perinatal Services

Adults

Tracey Howell

Perinatal Services

Adults

Sonya Duffee

Perinatal Services

Adults, Families

Julia Braga

Perinatal Services

Jennine Fayad

Perinatal Services

At this time, Insight Psychological does not have therapists who specialize in this specific area, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help you! Please contact us to talk with our Intake Personnel to find a therapist that is a good fit for you and your unique circumstances.