Genuine Happiness as Your Authentic Self
What is IFS?
IFS stands for Interal Family Systems. IFS is a transformative, evidence-based individual therapy that is believed to rewire the brain. The goal is not just to manage symptoms. Instead, we help anxiety stop taking over, freeing you to be your most authentic self, focused on what is truly meaningful to you. We access neural networks connected to feelings or behaviors you'd like to change by working with different "parts" of you (sometimes called "parts work").
What do you mean by "parts" of me?
We all have “parts,” that are actually neural networks in our brain that become activated in different situations. For example, you may have an anxious part that sometimes takes over with worried thoughts or physical sensations, and a more rational part that tries to tell the anxious part, “Everything’s fine. There’s no reason to be nervous.” Parts may be more recent, or they may have been there since childhood. Our brains are developing from the time we're born until our mid-20s. Because of this, our brains deveoped and adapted to the environment we grew up in. As an adult, we don't get to start over with a new brain. However, due to neural plasticity, neural networks that were formed many years in the past can still be rewired today.
What is IFS therapy like?
I ask a client to imagine a round table with different parts of herself around the table. She imagines herself as her wisest, most compassionate Self at the head of the table looking around at other parts. We all have two main types of parts around the table, vulnerable parts and protective parts. The vulernable parts may hold the scared, anxious feelings that sometimes take over, sad feelings, and any feelings of not being good enough. Protector parts often have the job of holding back all the vulnerable parts who hold those uncomfortable feelings and getting you through your day. We start therapy by looking around the table and seeing which parts would like help first.
How can IFS help my anxiety?
With anxiety, there may be a scared part that takes over your body with a fight or flight response, a part that worries about worst-case scenarios or what-ifs, and a protector part who’s job it is to try to manage all that and keep the anxiety from taking over. The protector part may be a more rational, logical part that knows you’re fine right now and not in danger. Yet, no matter how hard it tries, it can’t convince the anxious part that you’re actually safe right now. Usually, protector parts are exhausted of having to try to manage the anxiety and wish that anxious part would just go away and stop ruining their life.
Because “parts” are actually neural networks in your brain, we can’t reach in and pull an anxious part out. However, we can help that anxious part actually feel calm now and help it learn that you really are safe now so that it stops taking over with fear and dread. This makes it easier on other parts who have been working so hard to try to manage the anxious part. In IFS therapy and EMDR therapy, we activate the neural networks that hold anxiety and add in new information, helping them connect to neural networks that know you’re safe. In this way, over time, anxiety can be safely calmed or no longer triggered.
With your wisest, compassionate Self in the lead, you’re free to live your most authentic, genuine life, focused on what is truly meaningful to you.
What kind of issues can IFS help me with?
I use IFS to help people alleviate anxiety and increase peace of mind with things like:
trauma or PTSD
OCD (e.g. obsessive checking or washing)
fears including flying, public speaking, and dental anxiety
grief and loss
low self-esteem or self-worth
feelings of guilt or failure
upsetting past events
issues from childhood
What is your background in IFS?
I have completed the Level I 80-hour training approved by the IFS Institute. I have completed additional specialty trainings related to clinical applications of IFS including anxiety.
Can IFS be done online through telehealth?
Yes. You can decide whether you prefer to meet online or in-person at my office in Fort Worth near TCU.
Where can I find more information?
No Bad Parts, book by Richard Schwartz, founder of IFS