Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy
in Houston, TX and Online
What Is Internal Family Systems Therapy?
Internal Family Systems—or IFS—is a model of therapy that allows people to develop a more compassionate relationship with themselves by enhancing emotional awareness. By becoming attuned to the different parts of themselves, clients using IFS have an opportunity to accept difficult emotions and approach them more lovingly. This form of therapy was founded by Dr. Richard Schwartz who noticed that clients often referred to “parts” of themselves that contained difficult and sometimes contradicting emotions. Schwartz recognized that when clients felt safe to relax in session, they were better able to access the openness, self-confidence, and self-compassion, that are characteristics of the “core Self” that each of us have. Working in this state, clients were able to facilitate their own healing.
Internal Family Systems—or IFS—is a model of therapy that allows people to develop a more compassionate relationship with themselves by enhancing emotional awareness.
By becoming attuned to the different parts of themselves, clients using IFS have an opportunity to accept difficult emotions and approach them more lovingly.
This form of therapy was founded by Dr. Richard Schwartz who noticed that clients often referred to “parts” of themselves that contained difficult and sometimes contradicting emotions.
Schwartz recognized that when clients felt safe to relax in session, they were better able to access the openness, self-confidence, and self-compassion, that are characteristics of the “core Self” that each of us have.
Working in this state, clients were able to facilitate their own healing.
With IFS Therapy We View Clients Differently
Rather than viewing clients as having particular disorders or conditions, therapists using Internal Family Systems Therapy view symptoms as parts (a depressed part, an angry part, an anxious part, etc.).
By encouraging the work of accessing and embracing this “internal family” of parts”, IFS therapy helps the client to develop emotional awareness and an ability to self-regulate.
IFS Therapy Does Not Seek To Diagnose Or Pathologize
Because of this, Internal Family Systems is an effective model for treating symptoms related to a wide range of mental health concerns, including:
- Anger management issues
- Anxiety and stress
- Chronic pain and illness
- Interpersonal and relationship issues
- Emotional eating, compulsive, and/or maladaptive eating habits
- Self-harm and suicide ideation
- Shame and the inner critic
- Substance abuse issues
- Trauma & PTSD
What Are The Goals Of IFS Therapy?
Internal Family Systems Therapy relies on the notion that we all have parts that make up who we are. There are parts that keep us safe and parts that carry painful memories—all leading to a range of feelings from vulnerability to shame to bravery to self-confidence.
Certain parts can often become the dominant narrative in our heads. For instance, there are parts of ourselves that tell us we are worthless or inadequate.
When we begin listening to those self-critical parts, problematic patterns are created that typically lead to symptoms of distress.
Yet underneath the shame and negative self-talk is the core Self that is a healthy, healing being who is capable of perspective, leadership, and self-compassion. In other words, the Self is comprised of the eight following qualities:
A therapist using IFS facilitates reconnection to these elements of the core Self so that lasting inner healing can take place.
The Therapeutic Process Of IFS
In IFS therapy, all parts are welcome, as they are regarded as having good intentions even if their outcome is painful or difficult. The goal of parts work in therapy is to integrate all parts, heal emotional wounds, let go of extremes, and ultimately trust the Self.
An IFS therapist helps clients access their inner voice on the path to discovering the healing capacity of one’s true Self, which is inherent in all of us.
After a typical intake session, during which the therapist and client will assess presenting issues, the process of Internal Family Systems Therapy goes as follows:
- Step 1: Connecting with a part (for example a difficult emotion or a self-critical part). Fostering a compassionate connection with this part.
- Step 2: Getting to know that part and what it may protect. Understanding its role and positive intention. Asking for permission to heal what it protects. A self-critical part may try to keep us from feeling another part that is in pain – a part that carries painful memories or trauma. (Symptoms of anxiety are seen as protective since anxiety is often the brain’s way of signaling danger and ensuring safety from harm. However, IFS therapy gives clients a chance to observe and understand their anxiety, and integrate it in a way that does not perpetuate pain and worry).
- Step 3: Fostering a connection between the core Self and the part in pain. So that deep and meaningful healing can take place (this is called the unburdening process).
- Step 4: Once the part in pain is healed/unburdened, protective parts can relax and release the extreme role that they may have taken thus becoming healthy again.
Parts work is essential in providing relief and promoting general well-being in life. As such, Internal Family Systems is not just a form of therapy—it’s a mindset.
Internal Family Systems Therapy FAQ's
At Eddins Counseling, we take an integrative approach to therapy, which means that we are likely to use a variety of tools and modalities in helping clients to target emotional pain and distress.
When using IFS therapy for PTSD, we may also incorporate other trauma-informed methods—including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Brainspotting, and Somatic Experiencing—to facilitate healing.
In addition, we find that mindfulness techniques that promote a deep awareness of the here and now are useful in empowering clients to tune into their inner parts, regardless of the symptoms they experience.
IFS Therapy at Eddins Counseling Group
We believe that all of our clients maintain an innate ability to heal. When able to approach ourselves with curiosity, emotional awareness and a newfound sense of self-compassion are possible.
You Can Learn To Listen To Yourself With Compassion
If you’ve ever found that there is a “part” of yourself that conveys difficult or contradicting emotions, IFS Therapy at Eddins Counseling can help you foster alignment, inner peace, and healing.
Reach out below for more information about this therapy model or to schedule an appointment with one of our Internal Family Systems specialists.
Get Help From a Specialist in Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy
Erica specializes in working with new parents including adoptive parents and LGBTQ+ families and people who are experiencing grief, death, berea…BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
Holly specializes in working with adolescents, young adults, and women. She is passionate about helping clients work through life transitions, b…BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
Jehanzeb provides individual, couples, and group therapy services to people from diverse racial, ethnic, gender, socioeconomic, sexual orientati…BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
Marcie works with parents, young adults, and teens, together or individually, to assess what the major issues and roadblocks are, address any hu…BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
I’m passionate about helping people overcome life’s challenges. Whether you are struggling with a personal crisis brought on by trauma, relatio…BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
Your feelings matter and you deserve to be heard. Ron will join you on your journey of personal growth, healing, and change.BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
Steven is a bilingual (English & Spanish) psychotherapist. Steven’s experience includes counseling individuals, couples, families and teens in t…BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
Tiara offers a collaborative approach, fit to suit your individual needs. Her experience includes working with those facing life transitions and…BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
What Clients Are Saying
Tiara is one of the most understanding people and an amazing counselor