What is

Internal Family Systems Therapy?



When I first heard the statement, your personality is made up of multiple parts, I automatically thought, “are you telling me I have Multiple Personality Disorder?” Which was obviously not the case, but it can feel that way when we first begin to look at ourselves from the multiplistic point of view. Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a way of understanding personality from this particular perspective, and when you really start to get your head around the principles, it really does make sense to how each and every one of us exists. I am made up of multiple parts, just like you are made up of multiple parts, as are all eight billion of us wandering around on the planet today.

You will hear this play out in conversations every single day. For example, how many times have you heard someone say something like, “I got offered a job out of town, and there’s a part of me that really wants to take it, and there’s a part of me that thinks its not a good idea.” This is the multiplistic personality playing out in front of your eyes. The person is communicating the different parts of personality that have opposing points of view about the same situation. This is also the beauty of adapting the skills and theories of DBT to a multiplistic point of view, because if I know the external world to be dialectical by nature, then surely this can be true for my internal world too.

This is why the multiplistic personality makes so much sense to me. I have multiple parts of my personality that, due to my past experiences, have different points of view about what’s happening in the world. Each of these parts can exist, dialectically, at the exact same time in my system, communicating through my thoughts and feelings. For example, I can love, like, and dislike a person at the exact same time. These differing perspectives are held by different parts of my personality, each of which has a story about what’s going on in front of me. All of these parts have their own point of view, non of them hold the “truth” about anything, and all of them need to be validated for their feelings in order to create internal harmony in my system.



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