When people are asked what they want most in life, it’s fairly universal that “inner peace” or “true happiness” are in the top five. We are all familiar with these terms but what’s less familiar is how we go about achieving this goal. In my clinical practice, I have begun using a method of therapy that acts as a road map to discover that “inner peace” that we are all seeking. It’s called Internal Family Systems (IFS), and is applicable to virtually any issue including unresolved trauma, self-harming behaviors, addictions, and even just day-to-day challenges. I need to give credit to Richard Schwartz, the founder of this model.
A few of the main ideas of IFS are:
*As human beings, we are all born with multiple aspects, or “parts,” not just a one-dimensional personality. Each part is designed to play an important role in our lives and to work harmoniously as an integrated system. Take a moment to consider a time when you had mixed feelings about a particular situation. Any time you’ve had difficulty making a decision, you’ve had multiple parts operating at once. Each part has its own thoughts, feelings, and outlook on the world.
*Because of difficult life experiences, which most of us have had in some manner, the system becomes disorganized, conflicted, chaotic, and even self-destructive. For example, someone might say : “Part of me wants to speak up, but another part is afraid of being judged so I stay quiet.”
*There are no “good parts” or “bad parts.” All parts have a good intention even if it’s hard to see at first glance. For example, there may be a part who engages in a self-harm behavior such as alcohol abuse, but at its core, its intent is to protect the person from painful or uncomfortable feelings.
*When we can heal the wounds from past experiences at the source, then protective parts will “transform” their roles since the pain of the past has also been transformed.
*Bringing curiosity, compassion and non-judgment is the crux of creating harmony within the system. When ALL parts are fully understood and appreciated, this is the beginning of a beautiful healing process. Thus, balance is restored to the system as a whole and results, ultimately, in that elusive “inner peace.”
It’s a lot more complicated than anything I can explain in one short blog, and may be something you have to experience for yourself in order to truly understand this amazing process. IFS is considered a psycho-spiritual model because it works with the aspects of the human psyche as well as the universal energy that connects all of us (different religions and spiritual paths have various names for this energy including God, Christ consciousness, Allah, Buddha, Great Spirit, and many others). You don’t have to subscribe to any particular path to gain the benefits of this method however. More and more, as I use this framework to guide my therapy practice, I am always surprised and in awe of each person’s unique inner journey unfolding that I have the honor of witnessing. If anything I’ve written resonates with you, I hope you can trust your “wisest part” and take the next step by seeking therapy. As cliche as it may sound, I truly believe that we can create world peace one person at a time. Start with yourself and contact me to schedule your free consultation today!