Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS)
Since the year started, I had clients coming to see me describing feelings of overwhelm, disconnect from self or emptiness. Most of us struggle with self-compassion or being kind towards ourselves. There is a negative voice in the head, or a part of us that keeps us small and limited.
We can get stuck in a tunnel vision and all we see, feel and experience is that (old) feeling of being overwhelmed, not feeling good enough, worthy etc. The key to shift this is to rest in awareness rather than being identified with.
I am a big believer in self-awareness. When we are self-aware we can move from being on autopilot to being awake. When we are awake, we can notice our automated patterns and way of thinking and it is an opportunity to wake up from it. Next time you notice a negative voice in your head- pause. And be curious. Notice it. Say something like “isn’t it interesting that I am doing it here again”, “I wonder what this part of me has to say. What is the purpose of this part”? In the case of my one of my clients, her fear kept her safe. It kept her from taking any risk. So it actually was a protective part. She got to know that part better and was able to integrate it. With the result of the part being not that strong anymore and she felt a sense of relieve and less anxious and fearful.
Once we start to get to know these different parts, we often feel more whole. We become more resourceful and have a stronger sense of authority within ourselves. Dr. Richard Schwartz, who developed the Internal Family System Framework, introduces eight C’s of self-leadership: confidence, calmness, creativity, clarity, curiosity, courage, compassion, and connectedness. Through integrating the different parts within us, particular the ones that we have exiled, we can reconnect to our core state of self, which includes these 8 C’s of self-leadership. We feel stronger as a result, more connected and calm.
If you like to learn a bit more about this therapy approach- there is an interesting podcast episode I recommend listening to.
Including the body in our (cognitive/ mental) healing process
All our traumas, emotions, unexpressed feelings are literally stored in our tissue and body. Sometimes some really old stuff. Through a holistic approach, we can release this from the body. And often, for the first time in a long time, the physical body starts to feel safe. The nervous system is settled down. And we can start to notice what it’s like being ourselves when everything has settled down.. Particular that somatic embodied feeling of that. Noticing that.. This is the first step to creating new pathways and allowing our ways of thinking and perceiving to change. We are open to see a different perspective and we can become more resourceful.
That’s also the reason why include energy healing in my therapy offerings. Through the energy healing part, the physical body has a chance to shift into a relaxed state. The energy can shift from being scattered to being centred.
From that place we can re-experience ourselves. And old, unhelpful cognitive patterns can shift. We can move out of that tunnel vision into a more expanded, grounded and self-empowered place. Often my clients describe feeling hopeful again.