Internal Family Systems—IFS—has no connection to what we mean when we say, “my family.” Instead, IFS is a way to get familiar with the parts that are inside each of us—our inner family. We are born with fingers, toes, arms, legs, AND parts inside of our mind! In IFS sessions, we explore those inner parts and how they affect the way we live our lives. It’s a way to become familiar with our own feelings and emotions. A good way to think of this is: “A part of me really wants to go to the party; but another part really wants to stay home and get ready for the big day tomorrow.”

IFS works on the premise that issues of the mind are generally non-pathological. That means there does not need to be a medical or mental health diagnosis. Instead the part needs to be listened to and understood.  The IFS belief is that we already have everything inside of us that we need to care for ourselves. Just like when our physical bodies get hurt, they work to heal themselves, our minds and hearts work the same way.  Vary will not ask, “What’s wrong with you?” She will instead ask, “How can I help you?”

In IFS sessions, Vary will help you to:
     • Recognize your parts.
     • Listen to your parts to hear what they want you to know.
     • Understand how beliefs, assumptions, and values developed.
     • Be non-judgmental as you view yourself.
     • Increase your self awareness and self compassion.

During the session, Vary will guide you as needed; but you will be in the lead. Nothing is done without your permission. You work in partnership with Vary to explore and understand your inner parts. You will benefit by:
     • Gaining an awareness of what parts you have and how they work.
     • Becoming more caring and compassionate toward yourself.
     • Understand why different emotions arise at various times.
     • Experiencing healing of hurts that have been hidden.

It is not unusual to experience a new calmness as you begin to understand your inner Self.

IFS is evidence based.

A common definition of what it means to be evidence-based is: “A practice that has been rigorously evaluated in experimental evaluations – like randomized controlled trials – and shown to make a positive, statistically significant difference in important outcomes.”

In November of 2015, the IFS model which has been under development by Richard Schwartz since the 1980’s was listed as an evidence-based practice by the NREPP. NREPP is the National Registry for Evidence-based Programs and Practices, a national repository that is maintained by the U.S. government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Interventions listed in NREPP, now including IFS, have been subject to independent, rigorous scrutiny and are deemed to show significant impact on individual outcomes relating to mental health.

Per SAMHSA, “As a clinical treatment, IFS has been rated effective for improving general functioning and well-being. In addition, it has been rated promising for each of: improving phobia, panic, and generalized anxiety disorders and symptoms; physical health conditions and symptoms; personal resilience/self-concept; and depression and depressive symptoms.”

NOTE: Italicized comments are snippets from the IFS Institute’s website. For the full article, please see the IFS website at:  https://www.foundationifs.org/news-articles/79-ifs-an-evidence-based-practice

A Level 2 Trained Practitioner is a professional who is educated in Internal Family Systems (IFS) and helps guide people to use this modality to help them understand their own inner parts and how they relate to the world around them. The practitioner may have varying backgrounds: Vary Fischer is a registered nurse which gives her a sound understanding of the human body and how to care for it as well as conditions that can cause it to be in a less than optimal state. Others may be life coaches, chiropractors, physical therapists, podiatrists, naturopaths, or one of the many other areas of expertise. They do not diagnose medical or mental health conditions. The Level 2 Trained Practitioner works from the premise that there is no disease, just parts that are stuck in less than desired patterns.

Vary Fischer is an RN and also a Level 2 Trained IFS Practitioner.  When asked what she does for her clients, she will say, “I help them find the cause of why they are stuck in a certain pattern that is uncomfortable for them.”  She helps you see how life events may have caused some parts to become stuck in roles that no longer serve you.  Many times, that involves past medical experiences; and Vary is able to help you process that.

An IFS therapist is a professional who has typically earned a four-year undergraduate degree and possibly a master’s degree in psychology, counseling, or social work and is licensed to perform psychotherapy. They usually render a mental health diagnosis.

IFS is a non-pathologizing modality. This means we do not ask, “What’s wrong?” Instead we ask, “How can I help you?” Licensed therapists are usually required to make a mental health diagnosis and show that they are working to heal that illness or malady. Practitioners do not make medical or mental health diagnoses: They work with the client to explore and understand their parts so that they can heal whatever may be hurt and go forward with a sense of having been unburdened from their heavy load.