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Internal Family Systems Therapy

Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy is a powerful evidence-based psychotherapy modality developed in the 1980’s by family therapist Dr Richard Schwartz. It uses the theory of family therapy – that individuals cannot be fully isolated from the family unit and to address emotional issues we need to understand someone’s inner family. 

It operates on the premise that the mind is multiple and that our behaviours are a result of a series of “parts” (emotions and feelings) vying for control in order to uphold balance and survive. These parts conflict with each other and work in hierarchies in order to prevent us from re-experiencing childhood pain. 

IFS and relationships

In our relationships, we might feel fear, panic and anxiety when our partner is distant with us or energetically pulls away from us. As a result, we may have anxious parts that become activated in order to regain closeness and connection with our partner.

For example, we might have an “analysing part” that obsessively ruminates over their text messages – what they said and how often they communicate to us in an attempt to analyse their emotional availability.

We also might have a “caretaking” part that overgives in relationships, so that our partner needs us, and we protect ourselves from being rejected or abandoned.

Parts are strategies to get our emotional needs met, and most often in relationships they’re attempts to find safety and security in our relationship.

Internal family systems therapy helps people to unpack their parts and understand their role and positive intention in their system. As they understand their part’s motivations, they develop more acceptance for them and parts take on less extreme roles, because they’re no longer fighting them.

What is the goal of IFS therapy?

The goal of internal family systems therapy is to help people build a trusting relationship with their parts and to heal wounded parts that are working in ways that no longer help them.

It is based on the idea that there is an undamaged, resourceful Self at the core of every person and people can access this by entering a meditative state. When they can access this pure presence they can unburden the hurt parts of the mind and release the emotional energy stored in our bodies. 

This internal attachment system is their inner secure base that they can return to whenever their parts feel overwhelmed, sad or anxious. 

Through the course of therapy this internal resource gets stronger and people feel more calm, confident and grounded in their relationships.


I knew I'd been blocking my emotions around some healing and Victoria really helped me bring it to the surface to resolve it! The session was really effective, very deep work and I felt so calm afterwards! The issues I'd been feeling felt like a distant memory!

I highly recommend working with Victoria to help heal your inner child and any issues you might be having! ~ Lucy