The emotional consequences of childhood sexual, physical, and emotional abuse can last well into adulthood. If you experienced trauma or neglect as a child, you may suffer from:

  • Intense feelings of anger or despair
  • Panic attacks
  • Dissociation or disconnection from body sensation
  • Inability to remember recent events and conversations
  • Insomnia
  • Fear of other people leaving you
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Mood and anxiety disorders
  • Borderline Personality
  • Addictions and eating disorders
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Self-harm
  • Having “parts” or “alters”
  • Autoimmune Disease
  • Chronic Pain Disorders

If you have several of the above symptoms or problem, you are likely to be diagnosed with Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder.

What is Internal Family Systems Therapy

We all have “Parts.” There’s the “part” of you that might want a healthy breakfast of eggs and fruit. And there’s the other “part” who is tired of cooking and just wants to eat leftover pizza. Often we hardly notice the presence of the parts. However, childhood trauma and neglect cause parts to adopt extreme roles. Whereas a heathy part keeps you studying a few extra hours for an important exam, an extreme part berates you for achieving less than on an A+ on every single test.

Internal Conflict

Parts of yourself can have different ways of keeping you safe. For example, one part might have helped you to survive past abuse by avoiding people and hiding. Another part might have helped you to survive past abuse by soliciting help from extended family members or even strangers. These parts might remain unaware of your present life. They “fight” internally about whether to isolate or to make friends. Symptoms such as depression, panic attacks, physical pain and discomfort, and suicidal thoughts arise from internal conflicts among parts. IFS focuses first on decreasing symptoms by decreasing conflicts among parts.

Internal Family Systems is Non-judgmental

IFS therapists understand that suicidal thoughts, self-harm and use of drugs and alcohol are a response to PTSD flashbacks and internal conflict. Your acting-out Parts have a place in therapy, and you are not judged or demeaned for having these urges and actions.

Trauma resolution

A problem with EMDR and other trauma therapies is that they often move too fast. If protective parts are not consulted before trauma memories are explored, those parts can really act out. Clients in EMDR and other non-IFS trauma therapies often experience flashbacks, increased depression, and increased dissociation for days after therapy.

IFS offers a slow and safe approach to trauma resolution. First internal conflict is reduced, allowing access to your core healing self-energy. During this first stage, many symptoms are reduced. Then trauma burdens are slowly resolved.

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Here is more information on IFS Therapy

image by freepik
Image by freepik