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Internal Family Systems Sydney

Do you feel like you act or feel very different at different times? Behave or feel differently around different people? Or feel like a part of self is too controlling or out of control?

How can it help?

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is an approach to psychotherapy that recognises the multiple parts within our self. These parts consist of wounded parts (past negative experiences) and painful emotions such as anger and shame, and parts that try to control and protect us from the pain of the wounded parts. The parts often conflict with each other and with one's core self. Our core self describes the confident, compassionate, whole person at every individual's core.

IFS focuses on healing the wounded parts and restoring mental balance and harmony by changing the dynamics that create conflict among the parts and the self.

What to expect?

The IFS therapist supports you in identifying and understanding the specific parts that make up your internal system. Once you identify these, the therapist will help you acknowledge your feelings about these suppressed emotions, learn how to release these feelings so you are freer to address the actual problem, and ultimately find more positive ways to manage conflicts on your own.

In the IFS model, parts often play three common roles within us:

Manager Parts: Managers are protective parts that function to control our surroundings and manage emotions and tasks to navigate our daily life.

Exile Parts: Exiles are parts that hold hurt, fear, or shame from early experiences, and they carry difficult emotions and memories associated with those experiences. The Manager Parts aim to keep Exiles contained and hidden from conscious awareness to avoid feeling distressed and pain.

Firefighter Parts: Firefights are activated when Exiles produce overwhelming, painful, or threatening emotions. Firefights aim to prevent those difficult emotions by any means necessary, such as substance use or binge eating.

IFS also suggests that everyone has a core self and a genuine self waiting to be accessed. The core self can identify, observe, and address our other parts to become less extreme, more productive, and coexist effectively.

Our core self has many positive traits, including the IFS’s eight Cs and the five Ps. The presence of these traits can help identify how much of the core self is available at a given time, and how much of the self may still need to emerge.

The eight Cs are:









The five Ps are:






IFS therapists can help identify your parts and release the problems that these parts carry. To do so, IFS therapists can follow a six-step process:

Find: Identify the parts of your mind and body that need attention.

Focus: Pay attention to the relevant part.

Flesh: Describe the part and your experience with it.

Feel: Explore how you feel toward this part.

Befriend: Become more curious about this part and begin accepting its presence.

Fear: Ask what this part fears and what it would fear if you changed its role.


We usually have a few main Parts and a many more less active Parts. This exercise is to first explore and get to know our parts.

Find a quiet, safe space.

To start invite self energy by evoking the 8C's: curiosity, creativity, complassion, calmness, courage, confidence, clarity, connectedness. Once you feel grounded in these Cs invite your Parts to manifest.

As we begin to notice our Parts (i.e scared part, joker part) write them down on a piece of paper. Developing our list of Parts will help valid the complexity of us/everyone and will begin the process of us listening, learning and how we can better support, manage our Parts.

Inner Active Cards are a great resource to help identify, connect with our different Parts

WATCH Dr Richard Schwatz explain IFS (8mins)

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