When you learn how to welcome different aspects of yourself with curiosity and compassion, your life will change dramatically. Most of us were never taught how to do this. Instead, we often resist our feelings when they are unpleasant. We numb ourselves with food, alcohol, tv, Facebook, iPhones, sex and a host of other strategies. We also distract ourselves with work, shopping, relationships and even with trying to feel happy. These are natural human responses to pain but they usually leave us feeling emotionally congested or disconnected from ourselves. 

What is needed in order to shift these patterns is to learn how to welcome our feelings and be with them in a productive way. We need to learn how to befriend our fears, our grief, our insecurities, our anger, our judgement, our anxieties and treat these feelings as though they were valued aspects of ourselves. That is what I can help you learn how to do. 


Internal Family Systems therapy offers a way to safely connect with our fear, grief, shame and anger and tap into a well of wisdom and compassion at the same time. This allows you to reduce the tension you feel inside and feel more clear about who you are and what you want out of life.

In IFS, we accomplish this by getting to know the different "parts" that you have inside. Parts are aspects of you that carry thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behaviors. Parts are normal and everyone has them. When you hear a point of view in your head or have a feeling inside, we call that a part. We call it a part because that allows us to get to know it. Our thoughts and feelings are not just random happenings inside. If you slow down and ask questions of your different thoughts and feelings, you will actually get answers. If you know the right questions to ask, you can deepen your self-awareness and bring healing to yourself.

When you get to a place where you can be curious about yourself and have compassion for yourself (even the places in you that are afraid, angry or insecure) you bring forth what IFS calls "Self." Some people call it the True Self, the Authentic Self, or the Wise Self and other people call it Grace, God or Spirit. Self is your calm, clear center. My goal is to help you contact your Self and bring it forward as the leader of your life. 

FAQs about Internal Family Systems Therapy

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How is IFS different from traditional talk therapy?

IFS is an experiential therapy, so rather than talking ABOUT the parts of you that are stuck, we will talk TO the parts of you that are stuck. Talking TO the parts of you that are stuck allows for more dynamic work and deeper healing.

How do I know when I’m in Self?

You will feel a quality of spaciousness, curiosity, calmness, compassion, clarity, courageousness, connectedness, or trust in life. 

How do I know when I’m in a part?

You are feeling stuck, resistant, anxious, depressed, ashamed, angry, controlling, compulsive or impulsive.

How do I get back into Self?

By "unblending" from whatever you are in that isn’t your Self. Often this takes the form of getting to know the part that has come in and understanding why it is there. When parts feel seen and understood, they relax.

Does everyone have parts? 

Yes. Parts are natural and everyone has them. How many times have you heard someone say, "part of me wants to go out tonight and part of me thinks I should stay home and rest" or "part of me wants to break up with my partner and part of me thinks I shouldn't?" People tend to suffer when different parts of them want different things. When all of you wants to do something, there is usually not much conflict, but when different voices inside want different things, we often need help navigating our internal world. When we can reconcile the polarities that we have inside, we feel more clarity and trust in ourselves and less self-doubt. What if what we call “thinking” is actually a conversation between our parts?

What are the goals of IFS Therapy?

Get to know your parts - the more you know and appreciate your parts, the more whole you will feel and the more empowered you will be to work with your own parts outside of therapy.

Heal your parts - parts heal when they feel seen and accepted by you. Wounded parts usually carry burdens of pain from the past. These parts need to be accepted and loved.

Bring Self leadership to your life - living your life from Self is different than living your life from your parts. Being in Self improves every facet of your life.

Types of parts

Managers - These parts usually run the day to day operations of our lives. Managers are good planners and organizers and they like to get things done. One of the primary jobs of Managers is to make sure that our vulnerable Exile parts don’t get upset or feel bad. 

Firefighters - These parts tend to be impulsive and spontaneous. Firefighters get activated once an Exile part has come to the surface in some way.  Firefighters often distract you in the form of drinking alcohol, pot, sex, TV, shopping or using the internet.

Exiles - These are often younger parts that carry a wound or a burden from the past. Exiles were usually hurt in childhood. They are called Exiles because they have been exiled away from our normal waking consciousness. Most people are afraid that if they contact these parts they will be overwhelmed.

Self - Actually, the Self is not a part. It is the deepest expression of You. It is your wisest, most compassionate place inside. It is the place in you that has been untarnished by trauma or wounding.  It is your spiritual center and your deepest resource for living life. 


For more information about Internal Family Systems, please visit The Center for Self Leadership.