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General IFS-questions

What is Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy?

IFS Therapy is a psychotherapeutic model that focuses on the internal system of sub-personalities or "parts" within each individual. It aims to promote healing by fostering a better understanding of these parts and how they interact within one's internal system, leading to greater self-awareness, emotional healing, and improved mental health.

How does IFS therapy differ from other forms of psychotherapy?

IFS therapy differs in its focus on the multiplicity of the mind, viewing the psyche as made up of distinct parts, each with its own perspective, interests, and memories. It emphasizes understanding and harmonizing these parts through Self-leadership, rather than focusing solely on symptom relief or behavior change as some other therapies might.

What are the 6 steps in the IFS Process?

The IFS process involves 6 steps:

  1. Finding the Parts: The first step is about identifying the different parts within an individual. This includes both the parts that take over (managers and firefighters) and the vulnerable parts (exiles).

  2. Connection and Separation: In this step, the therapist and client create a connection to the different parts. The client learns to differentiate between the Self and the various parts.

  3. Approaching with Curiosity: Once you, as a client, have identified one of your parts, you are encouraged to approach it with curiosity instead of judgment or fear. This helps to understand the part's positive intentions.

  4. Gaining Permission: Before working with a specific part, it's important to gain permission from all concerned parts. This ensures that the process progresses smoothly without creating internal conflicts.

  5. Working with the Parts: Once permission has been obtained, the client works with the specific parts to understand their fears, beliefs, and intentions. This may involve working through trauma or other emotional wounds.

  6. Recreating the Relationship: The final step focuses on reshaping the relationship between the Self and the different parts. The goal is for them to be able to work together harmoniously under the leadership of the Self, leading to increased internal balance and wholeness.

These steps are used to help individuals achieve self-leadership, where the Self has a clearer and more centered role in the individual's internal system.

What does the term "parts" refer to in IFS therapy?

In IFS therapy, "parts" refer to the different sub-personalities or aspects of the self that have distinct roles, perspectives, and emotions. These parts are understood to be protective mechanisms that have developed over time in response to life experiences.

What is Self-Leadership in the context of IFS therapy?

Self-Leadership in IFS therapy refers to the ability of the core self to lead and harmonize the internal system of parts. It involves guiding these parts with confidence, compassion, and curiosity, leading to a more cohesive and balanced internal state.

What role do "protectors" play in IFS therapy?

Protectors in IFS therapy are parts that serve to defend the individual from perceived threats and pain. They often manifest as coping mechanisms or defensive behaviors. IFS therapy works to understand and transform these protectors, allowing for healing and growth.

How is conflict between parts addressed in IFS therapy?

Conflict between parts is addressed in IFS therapy by fostering understanding, empathy, and communication among the conflicting parts, with the self acting as a compassionate leader to guide the resolution process.

How does IFS therapy compare with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

While both IFS therapy and CBT aim to improve mental health, IFS focuses on the internal system of parts and their relationships, promoting internal harmony and self-leadership. CBT, on the other hand, focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. Both have unique strengths and can be complementary.

Is there any research supporting the effectiveness of IFS therapy?

Yes, there is growing research supporting the effectiveness of IFS therapy in treating various mental health issues, improving emotional regulation, and enhancing personal growth. Studies have shown positive outcomes in the treatment of trauma, anxiety, depression, and relationship issues, among others.

The therapy

What does a normal session look like?

All sessions are unique and different. A typical session involves us settling into calmness together. After that, I guide you into what feels important at the moment. Things that you are experiencing, things that are affecting you now. In this, we begin to search for your parts and understand the roles they play. We always make sure to settle back slowly and gently after a session.

Is my family history or background a focus in IFS therapy?

While IFS therapy primarily focuses on the internal "family" of parts, understanding one's external family history or background can be helpful in identifying patterns and themes that influence the internal system. However, it is not the main focus of the therapy.

What if I feel uncomfortable talking about my feelings or personal experiences?
IFS therapy respects and addresses feelings of discomfort or reluctance to discuss personal experiences by working with protective parts that may be causing these feelings. It aims to create a safe and supportive environment for all parts to express themselves at their own pace.
What is the process of getting to know my parts in IFS therapy?

The process involves guided exploration and dialogue with different parts, facilitated by the therapist. Through this process, individuals learn about the roles, intentions, and emotions of their parts, leading to greater self-understanding and harmony.

What can I expect in my first IFS therapy session?

In the first IFS therapy session, you can expect an introduction to the IFS model, an exploration of your goals for therapy, and possibly an initial conversation with some of your parts, guided by the therapist in a safe and supportive manner.

What can IFS Therapy do?

What types of issues can IFS therapy help with?

IFS therapy can help with a wide range of mental health issues, including trauma, abuse, depression, anxiety, phobias, addiction, compulsive behaviors, mood disorders, and relationship issues. It is also effective in improving emotional regulation, self-awareness, and problem-solving skills.

How does IFS therapy work with anxiety and phobias?

IFS therapy addresses anxiety and phobias by identifying and working with the parts that carry anxious feelings or phobic reactions, understanding their protective intentions, and helping them to relax and trust in the self's leadership.

Can IFS therapy assist with addiction and compulsive behaviors?
Yes, IFS therapy can assist with addiction and compulsive behaviors by identifying the parts involved in these behaviors and understanding their protective roles. Through negotiation and healing of these parts, individuals can find healthier ways to meet their needs and resolve the underlying issues. 
How does IFS therapy approach trauma and abuse?

IFS therapy approaches trauma and abuse by identifying and working with parts that have been hurt or traumatized, offering them healing and transformation. It provides a safe space for these parts to express their experiences and emotions, promoting integration and healing.

Is IFS therapy suitable for addressing depression?

Yes. IFS therapy is extensively used to process and heal depression. As long as the individual can manage the therapy situation, IFS therapy can help. By assisting individuals in understanding the parts that contribute to their situation and working towards greater internal harmony and emotional stability, IFS can aid individuals with depression.

Can IFS therapy improve my problem-solving skills?

Yes, by promoting self-awareness and emotional regulation, IFS therapy can improve problem-solving skills. Understanding the internal dynamics among different parts allows for more integrated and effective decision-making.

Can IFS therapy be used to address relationship problems?

Yes, IFS therapy can be particularly effective in addressing relationship problems by helping individuals understand and regulate their inner family of parts and thereby their emotions, leading to healthier interactions and communication patterns with partners.

How does IFS therapy help with emotional regulation?

IFS therapy helps with emotional regulation by promoting self-leadership, which enables individuals to understand, empathize with, and effectively manage their parts. This internal leadership fosters balance and harmony among the parts, leading to improved emotional regulation.

Can IFS therapy help me even if I don't have mental health issues?

Yes, IFS therapy can be beneficial for individuals without severe mental health issues, as it promotes self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and personal growth, which are valuable for anyone looking to improve their emotional well-being and life satisfaction.

How can IFS therapy impact my professional life and leadership skills?

IFS therapy can positively impact professional life and leadership skills by improving self-awareness, emotional regulation, and communication skills. It fosters a leadership style that is confident, compassionate, and effective, both internally and in external interactions.

What makes IFS therapy effective in treating body image disorders?

IFS therapy is effective in treating body image disorders by addressing the parts that hold negative beliefs about the body, offering them compassion, understanding, and a new perspective, leading to a more positive and accepting relationship with the body.

Can IFS therapy help with personal growth and emotional intelligence?

Yes, IFS therapy promotes personal growth and emotional intelligence by encouraging a deep understanding of oneself, fostering empathy for one's internal parts, and developing skills in managing emotions and relationships.

How does IFS therapy address shame and self-criticism?

IFS therapy addresses shame and self-criticism by identifying the parts that carry these feelings, understanding their protective roles, and helping them to transform through compassion and reassurance from the self.

Practical questions

How long is normally an IFS session?

Normally, a session is 60 minutes. However - I always make room for time so that the session can land in a good place.

Can I cancel a session?

Normally, it's no problem to cancel a session at least 24 hours before the appointment. I understand that things happen, and if you don't feel ready for or up to therapy on that particular day, it's better that you cancel. There is no charge for canceling, and we will find a new time!

How long does it typically take to see results from IFS therapy?
The time it takes to see results from IFS therapy varies depending on the individual and the complexity of the issues being addressed. Some may notice improvements within a few sessions, while others may require a longer period of engagement with the therapy.
Can I meet you physically in a personal meeting?

Yes - I meet with clients in my office in Saltsjöbaden or in a room at Skeppsbron, gamla stan, Stockholm.

Can I meet you online for therapy?

Yes. Most of my clients are located around the world. I am flexibel to cater for different time zones.

How do I pay for the therapy?

You pay for sessions in arrears via PayPal (or if you are in Sweden; invoice or Swish also works).

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