INTERNAL FAMILY SYSTEMS (IFS)


Family  therapist Richard Schwartz, Ph.D., developed Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) in the 1990’s.   Fundemental to the therapy is the notion that each person possesss a Core Self, or an undamaged part of the Self that is not affected by trauma, memories or conditioning. This Core Self, as  Schwartz describes, is the essence of who a person is and possess three different types of sub-personalities. 

The three different  sub-personalities include Exiles  (wounded and suppressed parts), Managers (parts that protect the personality from distressful emotions of the exiled parts), and Firefighters (which distract the personality from pain when exiles are released).  

For example, when a trauma is experienced,   an Exiled part may have been created. The exiled  part contains the suppressed emotions of the even that could not be expressed or resolved at the time of the trauma.  The Manager part continues to ensure the Exiled part remains suppressed so the person does not have to confront the difficult feelings. The Firefighter part,  like the Manager, is also in a protective role.  It’s function is to distract a person from the emotional pain of the Exiled part through some type of compulsive or addicastive behaviour. 

The goal of IFS therapy is to restore trust in the Core Self.    The client can work towards freeing the other parts of their extreme roles and to harmonize the personality.