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Using Internal Family Systems To Treat Eating Disorders. Presented by Judi Addelston, Ph.D., LMFT Developed by Richard Schwartz, Ph.D. Internal Family Systems. Our internal system has different parts that interact in sequences and styles that are similar to the ways people interact.
Presented by Judi Addelston, Ph.D., LMFT
Developed by Richard Schwartz, Ph.D.
Our internal system has different parts that interact in sequences and styles that are similar to the ways people interact.
All parts are valuable, have good intentions, and want to play a positive role in the system.
“All parts are welcome”
Maladaptive symptoms (eating disorders) occur when parts take on extreme roles due to life experiences.
An Eating Disorder is a part, or coalition of parts, that is protecting one or more exiles.
Proactive parts that run the daily life of the person and work to keep the exiles banished by:
Ask the manager:
Parts that react when exile pain is activated in an effort to distract or extinguish their feelings or dissociate the person from them.
Often, therapists are scared of firefighters because of their extreme consequences – cutting, starving, suicide can all lead to death.
Ask the firefighter:
No matter how much we may help managers and firefighters, unless they agree to let us work with and help the exiles, they will continue to do their job of protecting the system from being overwhelmed by the pain of the exiles.
As long as our protective parts believe there is still a fire to control or put out, they will not change.
Polarized parts cannot and
will not change unilaterally.
We often make the mistake of asking our clients to “relax” or “eat” or “have a food plan”, not realizing we are activating the other side of the polarization, thus making both sides more extreme.
Polarized parts do not see that Self is present
and can support the system.
Both sides of the polarization need to be
shown that Self is present and can
protect the vulnerable parts.
Ask each side – what are you afraid will happen if you don’t do your job?
Typically – both sides have the same job – to protect a vulnerable exile.
When they realize this, in the presence of Self, they are more likely to relax, and take on a preferred role.
As therapists, we may be drawn to exiles, and may want to get rid of protectors because they seem maladaptive.
We can only access exiles by getting permission from the protectors.
Remember – they are just doing their job.
People who have anxious parts dominating their system are typically driven by managers who are trying desperately to control the system so the pain of the exiles does not leak through.
Depressed parts feel utterly hopeless and have blended with and overwhelmed the system.
This may be the result of a protector depressing (exiling) parts. This takes so much life-force energy that there is little left for anything else.
Goal is to learn the part’s story, develop
a relationship between the part and
Self and have the Self provide Hope.
Addicts are driven by firefighters – extreme protectors working hard to keep extreme exile pain/shame away from the system.
Stop the pain at all costs,
even if it costs everything
Trauma survivors have parts that are stuck in the past that need to be retrieved and unburdened.
“Trauma survivors don’t have
memories, they have symptoms”.
Their “symptoms” (starving, binging) are protectors working to keep the painful memories exiled so the person NEVER AGAIN has to feel that pain.
“Even the worst impulses and feelings -- the urge to drink, the compulsion to cut oneself, the paranoid suspicions, the murderous fantasies – spring from parts of a person that themselves have a story to tell and the capacity to become something positive and helpful to the client’s life. The point of therapy isn’t to get rid of anything but to help it transform.” Richard Schwartz, Ph.D.
In addition to thoroughly learning IFS theory and technique, the Level 1 training program invites participants to explore their own inner worlds in a safe, nurturing context. Participants:
The format includes lecture, discussion, demonstration, experiential exercises, and small group supervision and practice.
Level 1 is six weekends over the course of one year, 108 CEUs.
If you are interested in bringing a Level One IFS Training to Orlando, please go to the above link and add your name to the Orlando Interest list.