What is IFS?

What is IFS?


The premise of the Internal Family Systems model is simple, yet profound:

Rather than seeing ourselves as individuals with one mind, instead our minds are made up of ‘parts’, which are distinct elements of our psyche that have unique beliefs, values, emotions and perspectives of our lives.

Furthermore, there’s a part of us all (without exception) that’s different from the rest. 

That’s called our ‘Self’, in IFS terms, and it’s a place within us that’s a source of constant confidence, compassion, courage, calmness. Our ability to bring healing from within.

Given that much of what we learn growing up falsely teaches us that our problems lie with us and the answer to our problems is found outside of us, our connection to, and belief in, our Self can become hazy.

‘Parts’ of us cloud it out, like the sun covered by the clouds, and instead the parts start to lead our lives, rather than the confident, compassionate and connected energy of our Self.

The IFS process uniquely never attempts to ‘overcome’ or ‘beat’ the parts of us that have taken on what appear to be self-sabotaging, but in fact are self-protective strategies in our lives.

Our ‘bad habits’ and behaviours that cause external problems in our worlds are led by parts of us that have evolved to protect us at all costs - even the cost of our own health, happiness and relationships - because they don’t know there’s another way, nor trust our Self to lead our lives anymore.

The IFS approach provides a toolkit to map and understand what’s going on inside of us. We can identify which parts of us have taken a dominant place in our lives, and those we have been left behind, but still have a valuable and necessary role to fill in our lives. 

Understanding the fears that lie behind our protective behaviours can help to bring healing and comfort to our deepest vulnerabilities. 

Our ‘internal system’ can start to feel more whole, like the ‘real’ us, with less conflict within.

Some examples of common protective ‘parts’ include: inner critic, people pleaser, overworker, perfectionist, addictive tendencies, caretaking, anxious or depressed parts

Some examples of common ‘exiled’, vulnerable parts of us include: sadness, loneliness or feeling isolated, feelings of inadequacy.

Finally, Self is defined by ‘the 8C’s’: compassion, connectedness, curiosity, creativity, calmness, courage, confidence, clarity

Creating harmony in our internal system through the application of the IFS principles and processes leads to a more harmonious existence in our own lives and all those we encounter. 


DISCLAIMER: IFS Coaching with Madeline is not a substitute for psychotherapy and does not replace professional mental health advice, nor includes diagnosis or treatment of illness or mental health condition. 

Internal Family Systems (IFS) Coach
Internal Family Systems (IFS) Coach