Internal Family Systems Seminar

I attended a seminar on Internal Family Systems (IFS). IFS is a psychotherapeutic theory that is used to reframe and rethink about behaviour.

Essentially, your Self has a relationship with Parts of you (subpersonalities), and these Parts have relationships with each other. Each Part has its own viewpoints, qualities, and agenda, and can assume Roles (extreme feelings/actions) to deal with Exiles (feelings that overwhelm; e.g. humiliation, shame, loss of control, terror, abandonment).

These Roles can be protective. Protective Roles come in a dichotomy: Managers and Firefighters; Proactive avoidance and reaction.

In order for your Self to moderate all your Parts, it’s important that no Parts run especially wild or distract the other Parts. The key is to release the burden of the Role, not to dismiss the Part or fear the trigger — you allow your Parts to return to their valuable states.

Evolutionarily, the hindbrain developed to lead to the limbic system (80% neurons outgoing, 20% back to hindbrain), and so the limbic to the prefrontal cortex.

Using this logic, experience leads to narrative, narrative leads to logical conviction.

To allow your Parts to relinquish their roles, you must act experientially, and turn your experience into narrative.

This supports two sections of my teaching philosophy:

  1.  Embodied approaches to pedagogy greatly allow for deeper and more meaningful learning; and
  2.  Learning can and should impact both the affective and cognitive domains.

The seminar was just an introduction to a series (which I did not attend), so there is a lot more to IFS than this, and a lot more about how the Parts interact with each other.

I wonder how this links to Polyvagal theory.

I’m anticipating this tool being a useful way of looking at student behaviour.