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IFS (Internal Family Systems)

Internal Family Systems is an experiential therapy pioneered by Dick Schwartz out of Harvard University. It is a modality that relies on the client’s system to be the guide for therapy rather than the “therapist as expert “ model that is more common in many therapeutic modalities. IFS goes on the premise that we are composed of many parts that become activated and engaged in the world to manage and protect us from our deepest hurts. For example, many clients have critical, judgmental, angry, impatient, perfectionistic, playful, and peace-keeping parts. As life impacts us these parts are triggered and show up to represent us in the world, causing us to be pushed out of our self-energy and blended with our parts. When we are parts led we cling to coping strategies, addictions, and emotional patterns that don’t serve us. As we can get to know our parts (even the ones that scare us) and get in connection with our parts we are able to understand them thereby lessening the intensity of these parts. As the Self (our wise center that is clear, conscious, compassionate, creative, caring, and calm) comes to know our parts we can go from being parts led to being Self led. By following our parts back to their earliest injuries and vulnerabilities and letting the Self witness these wounds compassionately, we can unburden these parts from the jobs they feel compelled to do.  This is a powerful model that is gentle and respectful of the client’s internal system. It is a simple and elegant model that believes that every client, despite trauma history or diagnosis, can access Self. It is a therapeutic model that helps to facilitate deep work that creates change on a visceral level.

Behavioral Modalities

As someone who began their career in Applied Behavior Analysis, I have a deep respect for both the assets and limitations of behavioral tools. I am trained in a variety of cognitive/ behavioral techniques such as: Prolonged Exposure Therapy, Response Prevention, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Cognitive Processing Therapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. All these modalities have their strengths. There is value in being able to directly challenge ways of thinking and experimenting with new responses. Many clients need to be challenged to put themselves in new and different environments and experience that they can in fact handle what they previously felt they could not. Helping clients onto their leading edge of discomfort to promote growth is a powerful intervention. Behavioral modalities help clients gather evidence and take action in areas where they feel anxious or stuck. Behavioral tools are excellent for coping with many forms of anxiety and for habit formation. While I believe cognitive/behavioral tools have their place in therapy, I have come to learn that they are best used as an adjunctive modality rather than a primary modality.

Hiking Path
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