Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a principal component of my practice. Whereas CBT focuses on cognition and behaviour, IFS focuses on emotional reactions and relating.
Because our individual needs vary and one may need different approaches at different times, I also incorporate CBT and Brainspotting, working flexibly and collaboratively to find the best healing path for you.
What is IFS?
IFS is based on the premise that an emotional reaction is not simply an emotion, it is interconnected with certain beliefs, thoughts, memories, and physical sensations.
The most recognisable example is our inner critic. We may feel self-focused frustration, with it come certain self-beliefs (I’m useless), thought patterns (rumination), past experiences (memories of our mistakes), and other feelings (sadness). When the critical part of us is extreme, another part may prompt us to drink, watch TV, etc. in order to avoid the inner tirade.
IFS suggests that we all have innate life energy that is focused on survival and connection. This central Self is naturally calm, secure, compassionate, and resilient. As we experience distress in early life, we develop emotional defences to protect ourselves.
These protective parts of us function to either to control us (so it doesn’t happen again) or distract us (so we don’t feel the emotional pain). Our protective parts can obscure our sense of Self, clouding our ability to think and react as we would want.
Why do our emotional defences sometimes work against us?
Our early-life emotional wounds are often suppressed or hidden so we can function in the world. As a result, they don’t heal. When they are triggered, our protective parts jump into action.
Over time, protective parts can grow extreme. The more our inner critical part tries to control us, the more our distractor part prompts us to drink, for example. This creates an unhealthy maintenance cycle, making us feel stuck, perplexed, anxious, and depressed.
How IFS Works
IFS helps clients strengthen their sense of Self, teaching them how to connect and sooth all of their emotional parts. IFS also connects clients to the emotional wounds, releasing long-held emotional burdens. When emotional wounds are healed, the parts protecting them are able to transform too.
Most of our protective parts developed at a young age, meaning their protective strategies have become habitual. IFS fosters the relationship between clients’ Self and their protective parts, and updating the parts’ protective strategies to more functional alternatives.
Our psyche works best as a cooperative system. We need parts to get us up in the morning and parts that prompt us to relax and have fun. We need access to our Self to sooth difficult emotions and to lead us in difficult situations. When all of our emotional parts work together, we become more balanced versions of ourselves; confident, motivated, connected, and resilient.
What I Do Differently
IFS focuses on healing emotional wounds and connecting and soothing our emotional reactions. My professional experience has taught me that focusing solely on this inner activity is not enough.
Some our emotional wounds are deeply buried and difficult to access. Brainspotting is a neuroprocessing intervention that targets specific emotional stuck points hidden in deeper regions of the brain. It is a simple yet powerful process, desensitising past triggers and strengthening resilience to stressors.
By adding Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Monkey therapy takes the deep healing that happens in session and helps clients apply it in their everyday lives, breaking old habits, experimenting with new beliefs, fostering positive behaviours, creating new experiences, and finally, ensuring long lasting change.
How therapy works
Worksheets and useful information
Guilt and shame
Find out more
What I do differently
Your inner critic
The science behind it
Steps you can take now
More than CBT
More than IFS
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