Internal Family Systems
Integrate the conflicting parts of ourselves
Internal Family Systems or IFS, as it is commonly called, is an extremely effective and gentle technique for healing and helping the different parts of ourselves feel integrated within us. These parts are very often working against each other in the mistaken belief that they are helping our system be safe. This can cause anxiety and stress.
IFS is a transformative, evidence-based therapy that helps people heal by accessing and loving their protective and wounded inner parts. The mind is naturally multiple and that is a good thing. Just like members of a family, inner parts are forced from their valuable states into extreme roles within us. We also all have a core Self.
Self is in everyone. It can’t be damaged. It knows how to heal.
By helping people first access their Self and, from that core, come to access self, IFS creates inner and outer connectedness.
You can read more about IFS here: Internal Family Sysytems - IFS
What may be a simple way to describe IFS is to use myself as an example.
In my 20’s I was performing on Broadway and even though there were parts of me that loved being in the limelight, getting lots of attention and sharing my joy of dance, there were other parts of me filled with fear, shame and grief that simply wanted to hide. Although I didn’t realize all that was going on inside me at the time, I did know I was struggling emotionally with accepting my success. There were parts of me that felt guilty and undeserving of my success, creating stress and fear.
Parts were terrified
Knowing what I do now about Internal Family Systems, I can see that there were parts that were terrified for me to fully let go and enjoy myself that the deep well of grief and shame within me would be revealed, or that I would be attacked for fully expressing myself. I had to be vigilant in keeping them deeply buried and therefore protected. Unfortunately or fortunately, however you like to look at it, the wounded parts in me were always wanting to be seen, heard, and witnessed for the pain and the burden of shame they had taken on their little shoulders early on in life. They also wanted to be loved, accepted, and released from the pain.
I also knew from past experience that to express this deep trauma to just anyone was not a safe option. Thankfully, now, my parts are working together in harmony and that shame is unburdened and those parts healed. I found this model so effective I wanted to add it to my toolbox. I discovered it worked so beautifully with my other modalities.
After being in a year-long training and subsequent continuing education, I am happy to add it to my techniques to help clients heal. It works beautifully with both EFT and Matrix Reimprinting. Add to that mix my Grief Recovery work which always holds the client in a compassionate, accepting, and non-judgemental place. Adding to all above a belief in a higher power that loves us unconditionally, I feel that I have found a lovely healing mix of techniques that help people let go of what no longer serves them, learn tools to maintain their freedom and be ready to step into living their purpose.
Why use EFT and IFS together?
IFS by itself can take a long time for our different parts to trust and accept they are safe. They will not ‘let go’ or feel safe easily if they have been holding on for years in the belief that they have to protect either themselves or other parts within.
Because EFT works so effectively in calming the fight, flight, freeze response in our body, it is much easier for parts to feel safe to let go, heal, and change old negative beliefs that are no longer valid or true.
It is also important that the client feels safe with the therapist. It is in feeling safe and respected that change is possible. My clients are always held in a place of being valued, of kindness, and compassion.
Working with Gail Mae has been incredibly helpful. In our sessions, I feel calm, safe, and supported.
I feel listened to, understood and valued. I am a classical singer and when I started working with Gail Mae I was terrified of auditions. After working with Gail I now look forward to and enjoy them.
She has patiently and skillfully helped my self confidence and helped me appreciate, value and love my self.
Gail provides a safe environment and therefore I am able express my thoughts and emotions freely. With her I feel I am guided away from my fearful thoughts and memories and into a place of love and acceptance.”
- Rachel Labovitch – Opera Singer