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What is Internal Family Systems Model?

Internal family systems (IFS) or “parts work” is a holistic and evidence-based approach developed in the 1980s by Dr. Richard Schwartz, a licensed marriage and family therapist. Building on the fundamentals of systems thinking and family systems theories, the IFS model views people as having many different parts or sub-personalities within them (Schwartz, 1987). Dr. Schwartz conceptualized the model while working with clients who suffered from eating disorders, especially bulimia. Schwartz found that various parts of clients would surface in therapy, often conflicting with one another, highlighting the inner turmoil clients experienced on a daily basis (Anderson et al., 2023). Through observation and tracking, Schwartz found that these internal parts assumed unique roles and formed inner relationships, creating an internal system of their own (Anderson et al., 2023). Helping clients meet their internal system and learn how it interacts with and reacts to other people’s systems can assist them identify root causes of conflicts, manage and diffuse complex emotional reactions, and achieve inner balance and ultimately their life goals (IFS, 2018).

EMDR taps into the natural healing ability of your body and neuroplasticity of your brain. The first few stages are carefully designed to give you a little bit of exposure to your traumas at a time. The eye movements help desensitize you, & the traumas lose their painful intensity.

EMDR can be used to treat:

  • anger

  • anxiety & panic attacks

  • addictions

  • complicated grief 

  • complex trauma

  • depression

  • pain relief, phantom limb pain

  • performance anxiety

  • phobias

  • self-esteem and self-worth 

  • sleep disturbances 

  • stress

What does EMDR treatment look like?

EMDR is a staged intervention that begins with assessing your history and creating a specialized treatment plan. We use a technique called titration to go slow in the history taking phase to prevent re-traumatization. We prepare for the assessment and desensitization phases. Eye movements or sensory stimulation helps us integrate the traumatic experiences.

In the installation phase, we strengthen positive beliefs, & then use a body scan to process any lingering disturbances. We close each session by returning to a state of calm, so clients do not leave therapy in a state of distress.

See reference: EMDR-Resources-for-Clients

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