Internal Family Systems

Internal Family Systems

"A compassionate way to be with ourselves".


Internal Family Systems (IFS):

We are complex creatures with multiple parts.

Imagine your inner world comprised of many different parts, almost like different family members. Each part is looking out for us in the ways they know how. Our parts all have something to offer, including opinions, memories, beliefs and energies.

Sometimes, when not acknowledged or cared for, a part can become quite loud or persistent. Other times, we lose touch with parts of ourselves and becoming reacquainted offers relief. We also hold younger parts who have been wounded from earlier experiences. All of our parts benefit from loving care and attention from our Core Self--our Wise One Within-- who holds unflappable calm, curiosity, clarity, compassion, connectivity, creativity, courage and confidence.

The True and Untainted Self

IFS also suggests we have an openhearted and spacious place inside-a true and untainted Self. We can access this compassionate energy--and often do--perhaps when we are being creative, enjoying a connected conversation with another, or when we are meditating, hiking, dancing, playing, listening to music or watching a beautiful sunrise.

We know when we are accessing Self-energy when we feel compassionate, curious, connected, calm, creative, clear, courageous and confident- the 8 "C" words.

Connecting to our Core Self becomes a reliable and trustworthy resource. With strong Self-energy "on board", we can create a loving relationship with our parts and attend to their challenges, thoughts or emotions. We can even unburden our wounded parts who may cling to often outdated beliefs or feel stuck in past traumas. The work of IFS is to heal the injured parts and restore balance within our system by attending to our often child-like parts who need loving care. In this way, we are able to manage difficult emotions with less reactivity, more intention and awareness.

Illumination Counseling and Gayle Waitches offer Internal Family Systems (IFS) informed Individual and couple's therapy in Southeast Portland.  

Gayle has completed the IFS training, including Levels 1, 2 and 3. She is also a member of the IFS continuity program, and is supported by local IFS practitioners in her professional and personal work.