Many times when we become anxious, we view our rapid heartbeat, heavy breathing, and cold sweat as an inconvenience. But according to Richard Schwartz, the originator of Internal Family Systems (IFS), we need to understand these symptoms differently. In fact, he argues, we need to learn how to befriend them. Then and only then, he says, can we not only heal the trauma that constricts us, but help these symptoms abate as well.
In the following video clip with Networker editor Rich Simon, Schwartz explains his method.
Richard Schwartz, PhD, is director of the Center for Self Leadership and the originator of the IFS model. He’s on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and the author of Internal Family Systems Therapy.
As Schwartz explains, trauma survivors can actually begin a dialogue with their fearful “inner parts” and take the first step in moving from being frozen in a traumatic moment in the past to entering into the present.
“In the absence of self-leadership, inner parts become scared, rigid, and polarized, like older kids in a parentless house,” Schwartz says in his Networker article. “With IFS, things like flashbacks, dissociation, and panic attacks are useful signposts indicating what needs to happen in therapy. Beneath the surface of their parts, all clients have an undamaged, healing self.”
Did you enjoy this video? You might also enjoy Schwartz's article, Facing Our Dark Side, to find out how we can deal with inner parts that might bring us shame or embarrassment, or When Meditation Isn't Enough, where he explains how to help clients transform the disruptive feelings and thoughts that they’ve learned and simply observe them during meditation.
Tags: complex trauma | family | family systems | family systems therapy | internal family systems | kids | panic attack | panic attacks | survivors | therapy | trauma treatment | traumatic | treating trauma | Dick Schwartz | IFS | inner parts | Richard Schwartz PhD