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Internal Family Systems

This post contains videos that introduce the Internal Family Systems model.


"Dr. Marie Fang offers a "parts work" exercise from the Internal Family Systems framework to help you feel more integrated in your approach to life and more at peace about your decisions." Article for further understanding of Internal Family Systems (IFS):

"Managers, Firefighters, Exiles and True Self – each of which performs an important function and none of which are pathologized.

Our Managers are the parts of us that tell us how to be in the world. Be hard-working, competent, strong etc, they are very driven by social norms and expectations and tend to be aspects of ourselves that we are most likely to relate to as being “us”. They are the parts of us that we feel most comfortable showing to the outside world and can also be seen as our “persona”.

According to Schwartz the function of the managers parts is to keep our awareness far away from other aspects of ourselves in particular our exiled parts. The Exiles are those aspects of ourselves that hold our past pain, grief and memories that were overwhelming. As the name implies our exiles are “banished” from our everyday consciousness and are often largely unrecognised by us. If our exiles are triggered by external events – e.g. someone letting us down, being late, showing anger then this may remind of previous times in the past when we were abandoned, neglected or suffered abuse and our exile part re-surfaces.  The energy that the exile holds within us is uncomfortable and difficult for us to be with and this is where the fire-fighter parts come into action.

Our Firefighters parts are there to “hose down” the activation brought about by our exiles. Firefighters come in many guises, ranging from the socially acceptable “I’ll just have a drink, some chocolate, zone out in front of Netflix” to the more unacceptable “I’m going to get completely wasted, take drugs, cut myself and have a huge fight” All of these activities are designed to divert our attention from the pain of the uncomfortable feeling that the exile presents – the overwhelming helplessness, hopelessness and despair.

Self. The final aspect of ourselves that Schwartz describes is not a part but rather our “True Self” or “Real Self.” This is our true essence and is always present with us even if at times it feels difficult to access. Our True Self can be known through the appearance of the following eight “C” qualities that Schwartz cites: Curiosity, Compassion, Creativity, Calmness, Clarity, Courage, Connectedness, Confidence. Once we feel some of these qualities within us then we can be sure that we are connecting to Self Energy."


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