Parts Work: IFS Therapy Approach

When different aspects of your core self have competing needs, values, or goals, there may be an inner conflict. These elements may exist subliminally and manifest as procrastination, a lack of motivation, or self-destructive behavior. For example, one aspect of the self may want to start a business, whereas another aspect of the self may be afraid of failure and resist moving forward.

IFS therapy may be beneficial if an internal conflict is preventing development. Therapists can help you discover your conflicting traits and find solutions. You may need to control fear, worry, and other unpleasant emotions to do this. This will help you create new coping methods and realistic objectives.

Internal conflict is natural and may not indicate disease. Growth and transformation may include inner turmoil. Problems need not be fixed.

Self-reflection and mindfulness may help resolve internal conflicts. Increased awareness of your thoughts, emotions, and actions might assist you to recognize procrastination or self-sabotage behaviors.

Internal family systems therapy is one of the most successful evidence-based programs used by mental health professionals to treat phobias, panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and rheumatoid arthritis in individuals, couples, and families.

Defining “How Parts Work”

Inner Child: A Living Element of Oneself

“Inner kid” is well-known. It refers to your youth. You may deal with one inner child component or several—a baby, toddler, school-age kid, adolescent, and growing adult.

These areas store happy memories and difficult, frightening, or traumatic experiences that you are yet to deal with, holding them until you are ready to deal with them as an adult. That explains why memories, emotions, or mental health conditions can occasionally surface as an adult.

Silent Signs of Inner Conflict

·         Internalized aggression

·         Regression in time

·         Unshakeable shame

·         Perfectionistic pressure 

IFS Therapy

IFS therapy, or “internal family systems therapy,” is a type of psychotherapy that emphasizes the idea of “parts” within the self. Internal family systems theory stands on the notion that every person consists of various components or subpersonalities. IFS therapy contends that psychological and emotional distress can result when these parts are at odds with one another.

IFS therapy seeks to assist people in understanding and working with these various aspects of themselves without pathologizing them. The internal family system model emphasizes self-compassion and self-acceptance. It helps people understand and integrate themselves.

IFS therapy may treat anxiety, sadness, PTSD, addiction, relationship challenges, and certain physical health ailments. IFS therapy helps individuals understand themselves and their jobs. Instead of suppressing or eliminating these elements, the therapist will assist to love and understand them.

IFS Model Primary Categories of Parts

According to internal family systems therapy pioneer Richard Schwartz, our “parts” fall into three categories. They are as follows:

·        Exiles are younger parts of oneself that hold memories and feelings that have not yet been processed or dealt with properly.

·         Managers are the parts that keep the person going by putting the exiles aside so that the active part of oneself can go about its business.

·         Firefighters are extreme managers—impulsive and desperate to relieve misery. They may get addicted, self-destruct, or dissociate.

Internal Family Systems Approach Explained

The Concept of Parts

According to the internal family systems model, has multiple parts, or subpersonalities. Each of these components may have distinct roles, convictions, feelings, and experiences. Some components may be beneficial and adaptive, while others may be harmful or maladaptive. The conflict between these elements can result in psychological and emotional distress.

Non-Pathologizing Approach

IFS therapy emphasizes non-pathologizing. This approach rejects “ill” or “broken” individuals. Instead, it helps individuals comprehend and cooperate with their internal parts in a kind and understandable manner, healing wounded parts.


The IFS model stresses self-acceptance and self-compassion. It encourages individuals to love and accept their polarizing sides instead of repressing them.

Parts Identification

The therapist will help IFS therapy patients identify their roles and parts. The IFS therapist will also work with the patient to develop a more sympathetic and perceptive bond with these areas.

Positive Intentions of the Inner Parts

IFS therapy asserts that all parts of the self have good intentions, even if they behave inappropriately. The internal family system therapist will help the client recognize each part’s positive intentions and how they work together to keep them safe. This effectively converts them into protective parts.

Assessing the “Self”

IFS therapy aims to help patients gain access to their “self,” or the part of themselves that is rational, compassionate, and wise. This self is defined by its ability to observe all of the other inner parts without becoming entangled in their dramas.


The ultimate goal of this integrative model is self-leadership, a method of accessing the self. IFS therapists assist patients to connect with themselves, which may boost self-esteem.

Tackling Various Issues

Internal family systems therapy may resolve numerous issues. These are extreme emotions including anxiety, sadness, binge eating, PTSD, drug addiction, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, interpersonal issues, and more.


Victims of trauma, abuse, or neglect benefit from trauma-informed IFS therapy. It helps patients understand and cope with the various parts that may develop as a result of traumatic events.

Emphasis on Empathy and Curiosity

Internal family systems therapy focuses on curiosity and empathy in order to understand the various aspects of oneself. Self-compassion and trust are fostered when clients can comprehend their responsibilities and work without criticism.


Mindfulness-based internal family systems therapy helps patients understand their thoughts, emotions, and actions. This helps patients recognize procrastination and self-sabotage habits.


IFS therapy helps people use their inner resources and knowledge to improve their life.

Collaborative Approach

Internal family systems therapy entails the client and the IFS therapist cooperating to understand and deal with the various aspects of the self.

What Can IFS Therapists Help With?

Though the internal systems model does not confine patients to their diagnoses, it may address a number of issues and conditions, such as:

·         Bipolar disorder

·         Obsessive-compulsive disorder

·         Anxiety

·         Dissociative identity disorder

·         Substance abuse

·         Eating disorders

·         Major depressive disorder

·         Traumatic memories and painful emotions

·         Depressive symptoms

Internal Family Systems Therapy in Montreal, QC

Are you ready to approach life and its possibilities with more certainty, clarity, and strength? If this is the case, IFS therapy may be beneficial. At Intensive Therapy Retreats, we help clients maximize their self-awareness to live a better life. Reach out today; we’d love to tell you more about internal family systems therapy and assist you in creating a plan for a happier life.