I. Basic assumptions of the IFS model
- It is the nature of the mind to be subdivided into an indeterminate number of sub-personalities or parts.
- Everyone has a Self, and the Self can and should lead the individual's internal system.
- In the IFS model the non-extreme intention of each part is something positive for the individual. There are no "bad" parts, and the goal of therapy is not to eliminate parts but instead to help them find their non-extreme roles.
- As we develop, our parts develop and form a complex system of interactions among themselves; therefore, systems theory can be applied to the internal system. When the system is reorganized, parts can change rapidly.
- Changes in the internal system will affect changes in the external system and vice versa. The implication of this assumption is that both the internal and external levels of system should be assessed.
II. Overall goals of therapy
- To achieve balance and harmony within the internal system.
- To differentiate and elevate the Self so it can be an effective leader in our internal family systems (IFS).
- When the Self is in the lead, the parts will provide input to the Self but will respect the leadership and ultimate decision making of the Self.
- All parts will exist and lend talents that reflect their non-extreme intentions.
III. Parts in IFS
- Sub-personalities in IFS are aspects of our personality that interact internally in sequences and styles that are similar to the ways in which people interact.
- Parts may be experienced in any number of ways - thoughts, feelings, sensations, images, and more.
- All parts want something positive for the individual and will use a variety of strategies to gain influence within the internal system.
- Parts develop a complex system of interactions among themselves. Polarizations develop as parts try to gain influence within the system.
- While experiences affect parts, parts are not created by the experiences. They are always in existence, either as potential or actuality.
- Parts that become extreme are carrying "burdens" - energies that are not inherent in the function of the part and don't belong to the nature of the part, such as extreme beliefs, emotions, or fantasies. Parts can be helped to "unburden" and return to their natural balance.
- Parts that have lost trust in the leadership of the Self will "blend" with or take over the Self.
Want to learn more about Internal Family Systems model? Check out my article "Internal Family Systems - Meet your inner family" in which I explain in deep different parts of this therapy model.