Internal Family Systems, meet my Inner Child


After years of therapy, I’m well acquainted with my Inner Children. I think I’m pretty well healed from the trauma of early sexual abuse at ages around 4 to 6. My Little Girls talk to me when I remember to ask them. They are also very good at detecting situations that don’t feel right and alerting me to times that I’m giving too much, or places where the other person’s actions make me feel uneasy.

But just recently I’ve been learning about Internal Family Systems (IFS), which is a kind of therapy that deals not only with the tender vulnerable Inner Children, but also with the Protectors who developed over the years to keep them safe. I’ve kept safe and conducted a successful adult life thanks to an Organizer, a Social Manager, a Caretaker (taking care of other people), and other Protector parts.

Sometimes these Protectors kind of take over and run me, run my life, in ways that feel cold or compulsive. I lose my sense of a warm core Self. I feel busy, hyper, cut off. Those skills have been very useful in the world, but they are only parts of me.

Just today I am going to interview an IFS therapist to see about working to find a more harmonious relationship among all the parts. How can I use my Protector parts in the world without neglecting the Inner Children? How can the parts talk with one another to feel more harmonious and grateful to one another? How can my real Self be released to be more creative and free in the world?

I feel inspired to take up this blog again to let you know the story of my explorations with Internal Family Systems. Have you worked with IFS and did it help?