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  • Autumn Quiles, LCSW

Internal Family Systems (IFS)

I just finished six months of training to learn a new-to-me therapeutic approach called Internal Family Systems. I plan to continue studying this approach, but I am so excited about finishing the hard work that I wanted to blog.

A family therapist- Dick Schwartz- developed this approach in the 1980's by organically exploring what happens when a therapist implicitly trusts a client. He learned two critical things that, in my opinion, profoundly re-frame the process of therapy:

  1. The human mind is multiplicitous. Though we have a singular body that shows to the outside, our mind is comprised of a beautiful, intricate, System working efficiently on our inside to protect us from harm and help us to be Amazing. This System is akin to the depiction in the Disney movie "Inside Out".

  2. When a person learns about- and grows to love- their Internal System, their Core Self can help and heal the Parts of themselves that are hurting and rely on that System to protect them from hurt in the future.

I have witnessed kids do this exact thing for years. When they play, or talk, through the situations that cause them distress for long enough, their Core Self is revealed and this Self is a far better Healer than me. Kids naturally make their way toward Courage, Confidence and Calm and they have greater Patience, Persistence, Perspective and more Playfulness. I wanted to better learn how I could assist them in this process, so I have been learning all about how people's Internal Systems work. I'm grateful to Dick Schwartz and his team for elucidating the general blueprint for people's Internal Systems and sharing their discoveries with those of us who are navigating these Systems in our daily work.

I find that most people are not as interested in the intricacies of how I Do What I Do at work, but they appreciate the outcome when our work is done. But, I am secretly a Nerd about all things therapy and all things kids; I devour all the information I can get that could be used to help. I think this new-to-me approach could revolutionize my professional field and I am eager to catch, and ride, this new wave of healing until it lands solidly onto the shore of common therapy practice.

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