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Internal Family Systems (IFS) & Parts Work Therapy

IFS, which stands for Internal Family Systems (or “parts work” as we often call it), is one of the primary therapeutic frameworks we use to support our clients at Space for Kapwa. The IFS model was developed by Richard Schwartz and integrates elements of psychodynamic and attachment theories, trauma-informed theories, somatic theory and regulation, and even spirituality components. It has been suggested, and we at SfK believe through our decolonized lens, that parts work is also deeply related to the healing work that shamans have been doing for centuries.

IFS posits that each person is made up of a multitude of “parts” that together comprise their whole being, as well as a distinct “Self” that works as a sort of inner leader and healing agent for our parts. Our parts often function to protect us from the types of uncomfortable or intense feelings that we often try to keep down. We call the aforementioned protector parts “managers” and “firefighters”. On the flipside, parts can also be the ones that carry those stuffed-down emotions our protectors are trying so hard to keep at bay. We call the latter parts our “exiles”. Exiled parts are essentially the same as what others are talking about when they refer to one's “wounded inner child.”

IFS traces many types of human distress to a power imbalance or conflict within one’s inner system as well as an absence of the energy of Self. In therapy, this framework can look like our therapists helping clients to understand the basics of the IFS model and guiding clients to practice developing curiosity, clarity, and compassion (i.e., Self Energy) for our parts and the burdens they carry. Once our parts are understood by us, our Self can help them get their needs met as well as to heal from traumatic or painful experiences.

We find that IFS is engaging and effective in addressing a wide variety of issues and goals that people come to therapy for, such as:




Developmental and attachment trauma

Interpersonal/relationship challenges

Identity issues

Resolving inner conflict

Interested in learning more about IFS & parts work therapy? Schedule a free consultation with one of our therapists to see if it could be a good fit for you and your needs!

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