Internal Family Systems is the work of Richard Schwartz PhD and was taught to us in Auckland by Simon d’Orsogna
It was exciting to join therapists so soon after my arrival in Auckland and celebrate being a Provisionally Registered Therapist here and Learn more about IFS. Internal Family Systems gives a structure for individual, couples and family therapy. It’s core principles are that most of us speak of having ‘parts’ and that having parts isn’t a sign of a disorder or a problem, but the usual state of humans, the problem is when some of our parts don’t let other parts speak and we have an internal conflict. Some protective parts can become so strong through trauma that they deny the existence of other parts and so we don’t even know they are there. With a kind, Focusing-oriented approach we can welcome the good intentions of these protectors and really get to know them and after some time they ease and will let us know our other selves more. It is a very relational approach, so we aren’t trying to ‘get’ some parts to do things, but simply listen to the and from that our parts may surprise us by their kind intentions. It’s like doing mediation – where some people are loud or even aggressive and others are quiet and withdrawn, the job of the therapist is to reassure the louder parts and wait for the quiet one so that one day everyone can sit together and hear each other.
Since taking this introductory training I have found may clients like the model, it helps us understand unseen processes clearly and clients realise no wonder they feel tired when there is a whole group of parts arguing in their head. I have found the idea really appeals to adolescents too. The therapist acknowledges her own parts and that it is possible to use the Self as a large container for all of these parts so that even if they jostle and disagree we can be in our larger self and have the right distance from these rambunctious personalities. We demonstrate that the client can do this too and this really diffuses the internal arguing. Now the therapist and the client can both turn to these different parts and listen with patience and presence. It is very useful for healing trauma, anxiety and depression, mental and physical illnesses which are traumatic, sexuality, identity expression, loss and grief, addiction and people interested in mindfulness, extending their creativity and in coaching.