IFS therapy uses a plural model of the mind. We all have an internal system of parts who interact internally with each other and externally with other people. In addition, we all have a core resource that is not a part, which is characterized by balance, curiosity and compassion, known as the “Self.” In this internal system, some parts take on protective roles in response to unmet childhood needs and relational trauma. Some parts, called “exiles,” hold intense feelings and want to connect with the Self.

When the very sensitive exile parts are triggered by the environment and when protective parts take action, many problems occur. For example:

  • Procrastination is often cause by a part protecting the system against “failure” or rejection.
  • Substance Abuse is often caused by parts protecting from overwhelming emotions.
  • Co-dependency is often cause by parts not knowing that it is now safe to act independently or by parts feeling excessive emotional neediness.
  • Anger outbursts are often caused by parts protecting against hurt and fear.

Balance is restored by accessing Self and befriending parts. When protective parts gain confidence in the Self’s natural leadership, they begin to relax. Then exile parts can unburden and be accepted into the system. Our natural child-like joy and curiosity are restored.