How do we use and access our Internal Family Systems?

Internal Family Systems was developed by Dr Richard Schwartz as a way to help people connect with, and better understand their inner world. It is used a lot in complex trauma work. In fact it was a recommendation as part of my Clinical Trauma Specialist training!

This model of therapy is used in family, couple and trauma therapy as a way to understand the protector roles of parts inside of us. It is these parts which may sabotage our own healing or connection with others.

An example of a part sabotaging connection with others could be anger and rage triggered by a fear of rejection and abandonment. The protector is the rage, protecting the inner child part of you who was abandoned. The trigger is fear of another person leaving due to painful past learning experiences.

If the other person appears to severe connection, because they’re busy or distracted this can set off the abandonment feeling which activates the protector. By reacting in anger though you may actually alienate yourself further from the person you were wanting to connect with.

Does this sound familiar anyone?!

In trauma therapy we explore ‘parts’ a lot but this model takes things far deeper. Internal Family Systems gives us some wonderful opportunities for creative exploration of our inner world.


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