Internal Family Systems, or short IFS, is a psycho-spiritual model, developed by Richard C. Schwartz, which allows us to work with our part. We all have “protectors”, parts that guide us to protect ourselves, and “exiles”, more vulnerable younger parts which we have hidden away behind the protectors. In our interactions with others our protectors or inner child parts can get triggered. The goal for IFS inspired coaching is conscious awareness of the triggers and knowing how to take care of our own parts.
The basis of IFS is that all human beings are perceived as healthy and whole. All humans have inner wisdom and healing energy. The Self, our core essence, is the healing entity. The Self is the spiritual aspect of this approach. It is the natural leader of the inner system of parts. The Self is eternal, knows all, and is not affected by any trauma. It connects us to others and to all living things. It is presence, heart-openness and conscious awareness.
When we are in Self we are able to be curious and compassionate with ourselves and others. We feel calm, connected and confident. Creativity, clarity and courage are present. Self is also characterized by joy , harmony and gratitude.
When you courageously take care of all your parts from that Self, you can also more and more show up from that calm, connected and compassionate stance with your partner.
The awareness of our parts, our natural multiplicity, is the greatest antidote to distance and conflicts in relationships. Instead of believing our partner is this angry or controlling or judgmental or worried person that shows up at times, we can relax into the awareness that this is just a part of them and that it serves the function of protection.
For more information on the IFS model and how it applies to individual coaching or to couples coaching, please read these two articles: