internal family systems therapy

Internal Family Systems Therapy or IFS is a type of psychotherapy developed by psychologist Richard Schwartz, Ph. D. This style of ‘parts’ therapy allows for an in-depth healing process.

Internal Family Systems Therapy

The principles of Internal Family Systems therapy (IFS) are that we all have different parts within ourselves. These parts are like separate people who have different goals, motivations and even personalities . These parts have different levels of maturity, wisdom, and pain. They also have their own perspectives and memories. A core tenet of IFS is that every part has a positive intent for the person, even if its actions or effects are counterproductive or cause dysfunction.

If you’re looking to resolve intense emotions or heal from your past pains, this may be a good therapy approach for you.

The parts of Internal Family Systems therapy

IFS divides the different parts into three types; Managers, Exiles, and Firefighters.


Managers play a protective role.  This part controls the way an individual interacts with the outside world in order to protect them. This part shields one from potential pain or the memories of past pain.


Exiles are parts that are in pain, shame, fear, or trauma, usually from childhood. Managers and firefighters try to exile these parts from consciousness, to prevent this pain from coming to the surface.


Firefighters are the parts that come out when the exiled part demands attention. This part uses distraction as a means to get away from hurt or shame. Distractions can be engaging in impulsive behavior like drug use or overeating. They can also distract from the pain by causing a person to focus excessively on other activities such as overworking, or over-medicating.

The Self

Internal Family Systems therapy sees everyone as being whole, even with the collection of parts. Even though whose experience is controlled by parts still has access to this internal self and its potential healing qualities.

Using IFS, your therapist is there to provide clarity with untangling the self from the parts, which allows space for healing and growth.


Richard Schwartz’s web site has a lot more information at this link 

At Mixon Therapy, we treat patients with a variety of behavioral, cognitive, and emotional issues from early childhood through adulthood. Reach out today for your consultation.