Looking for an Internal Family Systems therapist?
If you are looking for an Internal Family Systems therapist on Vancouver Island, I am a trained, Internal Family Systems informed therapist. I received my training from Derek Scott, the founder of IFSCA, and I have experienced the power of this model in my own life. Since IFS is an experiential form of therapy, it is important that whomever you choose to work with has experienced IFS for themselves.
Internal Family Systems is an emerging psychotherapy that takes a non-pathologizing, non-blaming approach to counselling. A core belief of Internal Family Systems is that all parts are welcome. Every part of you is well-meaning and serves a role in your life, even the parts you may dislike or hate. Our parts develop in response to our environment, upbringing, and relationships, and they take on roles that they believe will protect us from what feels unsafe.
Internal Family Systems is a respectful and safe approach that allows people to release distressing beliefs and emotions which allows healing and growth to take place. IFS is an evidence-based approach that is effective in dealing with various concerns. IFS is helpful for improving symptoms of anxiety, depression, trauma, compulsions, anger, shame, and substance use and is used with individuals, families, and couples. IFS is a powerfully transformative approach; as people move toward a self-compassionate mindset, they can heal and change unhelpful beliefs and thoughts.
IFS is a ‘parts’ therapy. Parts work addresses internal differences and conflicts that arise within us. It can be helpful to think of yourself as a committee. Imagine a friend invites you out to a party, there may be part of you that feels flattered and excited to be thought of and invited, while another part may be tired and not want to go out, and another part may dread the idea of meeting new people. IFS is about understanding all the different perspectives we hold, making each of these parts feel heard and understood, and gaining insight into the origin of various beliefs and emotions we hold.
Internal family systems has several similarities and differences with other forms of therapy. Like CBT, IFS is concerned with thoughts and beliefs. Unlike CBT, IFS does not work to actively change thought patterns and beliefs to change mood and behaviour. IFS does not actively teach techniques or skills for changing thought patterns. IFS is much less directive and instead focuses on understanding where distressing thoughts, emotions and beliefs are coming from in order to access the wounded parts of ourselves. Once we can access our wounded parts, IFS uses internal resources to heal our deepest wounds, bringing about a natural change in thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.
IFS has many similarities to person-centred therapy; both approaches believe that the client has the natural ability to change and grow and that everything needed for growth and change resides within. IFS varies from person-centred therapy by focusing on internal communication between the client’s self and their wounded parts.
While IFS may sound like family systems therapy and has grown from systems understanding, it does not focus on external relationships and how they impact each other. IFS looks inward and focuses on the inner relationships of the individual, between the self and the various parts.
An IFS session may look like a traditional talk therapy session. The client comes in with concerns, and the therapist asks questions to seek deeper understanding in a non-judgmental, affirming, accepting environment. Where an IFS session will look different is the focus on the internal workings of the client’s parts. The session will look more meditative and contemplative, with the client focusing on internal feelings, sensations, and images. An Internal Family Systems Therapist should be patient, gentle, and affirming to all the parts you choose to bring into the room.
Book a session?
If the IFS format is appealing to you or you think you could benefit from a deeper understanding of yourself, I have openings in person in the Comox Valley (Courtenay, Comox, Cumberland and surrounding areas) and virtually from Vancouver Island and across Canada.