Internal Family Systems – Parts Therapy

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What Is Internal Family Systems (IFS)?

We all have an inner critic. That voice inside that holds you back by telling you you’re not good enough, smart enough, capable enough, worthy enough and so on. By creeping to the forefront of your mind during certain moments in your professional or personal life, it can undermine your efforts to experience life to the fullest. And it can sometimes lead to destructive behaviors.

The voice of this inner critic can create a frustrating disharmony because it holds you back from your potential and ultimately stands in the way of your ability to live your happiest, most fulfilling life. In short, this voice knocks the wind out of your sails before you even get started — and it can be debilitating.

Internal Family Systems therapy, or IFS, is a specific type of therapy known as “Parts work therapy.” It is a deep therapeutic practice that gets to the root of that inner critic in order to heal the wounded parts of yourself.

Internal Family Systems therapy pays attention to how different parts of ourselves hold various messages we’ve received over time – and how sometimes these parts can subconsciously prevent us from living our best, most fulfilling lives.

In this deep therapy practice, the focus is on YOU and all of the various parts of you that formed during impactful, and sometimes traumatic, past life experiences. These parts, having experienced struggles that are not yet resolved, may now be showing up in your life as the parts of you that feel frustration, unworthiness, and feelings of being “stuck” in your personal and/or professional life.

What You Can Expect

At Kathryn Grooms & Associates Psychotherapy, we offer a safe, nonjudgmental space where we strive to make every person feel supported and welcomed.

Our goal is to create an environment where you will feel supported, heard, and seen.

In IFS therapy, our skilled therapist serves as a guide leading you to view your life with a new lens, through which we can observe your past and present experiences and ultimately shape a vision of what your desired future experiences look like. It’s not easy, but it is worthwhile and potentially life-changing work.

Together with a credentialed and experienced therapist, you can do the hard work of exploring all the different parts of you, working through them, and inviting them to cooperate and work together to achieve harmony and wellbeing.

We’ve all experienced shame at some point in our lives. And when we experience shame on any level, whether in childhood or as an adult, it can have profound, lasting effects. Effects that can include but aren’t limited to addiction, eating disorders, compulsive or self-defeating behaviors, depression, low self-esteem, and trouble in personal or professional relationships.

Shame builds walls. The work of Internal Family Systems is SHAME-BUSTING.

When you work with a therapist trained in Internal Family Systems at Kathryn Grooms & Associates Psychotherapy, you will have a trusted partner who will:

  • Help you break down those walls
  • Invite you to be more vulnerable
  • Guide you toward creating a new and freer way of living your life.

Noted shame researcher and author, Brené Brown said, “When we experience shame, we feel disconnected and desperate for worthiness. Full of shame or the fear of shame, we are more likely to engage in self-destructive behaviors and to attack or shame others. In fact, shame is related to violence, aggression, depression, addiction, eating disorders, and bullying.”

You may be inclined to read that quote and think of these behaviors or thoughts as negative or bad. However, this kind of therapy welcomes every part of the person to the table. Why?

Because these behaviors, these “parts”, have often emerged as a result of some kind of trauma, some kind of wound, which the person experienced at some point in their life. And, the person is having trouble coping. These behaviors emerge as a sort of coping mechanism, a way of dealing with the trauma or the wound. They occur because the parts want what’s best for that person.

Our practice in Internal Family Systems is rooted in the work of Dr. Richard Schwartz, the founder of Internal Family Systems therapy. In his work with people suffering with eating disorders, he noticed there were different, competing sides of his patients that emerged as they told their stories – namely the parts that wanted to binge on food and parts that wanted to restrict or purge food. Importantly, each part wanted to protect the patient from harm. There were different parts of themselves that needed to be heard.

In his patients, Dr. Schwartz noted what he called, the “Self” —a confident, curious, core of someone’s identity that has compassion for its wounded parts. His professional goal became to guide his patients’ parts to cooperate with one another under the leadership of the Self.

The work we do at Kathryn Grooms & Associates Psychotherapy, is to get these parts to cooperate with one another and to understand that even the parts we might be inclined to label as negative or bad actually want what’s best for the person.

Through Internal Family Systems therapy, all parts are welcomed to the table in a nonjudgmental way. The goal is to build a relationship, a bridge, between the True Self and The Parts. To ultimately balance out the imbalance and allow for greater healing.

Many people have challenging relationships with their parents or caregivers and they may struggle with this well into adulthood. This is not uncommon, particularly if they were raised by critical parents. Sometimes, this difficulty with primary caregivers leads us to struggle with vulnerability in other relationships – we may find ourselves fearful of rejection and doing whatever we can to avoid it. The result of experiencing repeated, unwanted behavior in a relationship is sometimes referred to as complex or relational trauma – something we often see in our clients at Kathryn Grooms & Associates Psychotherapy.

Internal Family Systems addresses complex or relational trauma.

Working with one of our professional therapists, Internal Family Systems therapy can help people re-parent themselves and find the compassion for their inner child that they may have lacked when they were younger.

Most of our parts form at a very young age. As adults, we walk around with these parts that taught us lessons and all serve a good purpose. However, during the parts work, we get to learn more about them. We learn about the emotions surrounding the parts. How long has that emotion been around? What is it afraid of? Where did it come from? What did it need back at that early age, and perhaps most importantly, what does it need today, right now, in order to heal?

IFS looks at the parts of us, and their coping patterns, that formed during these difficult experiences, knowing that they may have helped people to cope initially. But now, they no longer serve the greater purpose.

By mentioning these parts and putting them out into the open, they become more manageable and malleable. It’s like when the Wizard of Oz was exposed from behind the curtain — once he was revealed, his powers weren’t as mystifying or dazzling.

TV host and educator Mister Rogers articulated it beautifully when he said, “Feelings are mentionable and if they’re mentionable, then they’re manageable.”

When we’re young, we’re born with tons of curiosity! We’re untarnished because our parts haven’t formed yet. But as we develop and grow, we have many experiences that teach us about trust, about what to fear, and about what to love.

During these experiences, we develop parts of ourselves that have learned these lessons and learned to cope. All of these lessons and experiences become parts of ourselves and manifest later when we become adults. Some parts do not cause struggle while others do. Consider a child who learned that the dark is scary — somewhere along the way something happened that made them learn to fear the dark. Now, as an adult, if there is a power outage or blackout at work or home the old fears and coping mechanisms may return.

In Internal Family Systems therapy, we get to know all of the parts and we figure out why the part was formed initially and what it’s protecting us from. Once we do that, we can then see what the part needs now in order to heal.

When you work with one of our trusted and highly trained therapists, you will be with a gentle, compassionate listener who provides a safe, nonjudgmental space for healing and growth. Our therapists guide every client to give themselves what they need in a healthy, respectful way.

Our aim is to help every client to be comfortable in their own skin and safe in their own being. We want you to be free from unhelpful patterns and behaviors and to have a mindset that embraces the notion that:

I am safe and welcome.
I belong here.
I feel understood and seen.
I am lovable.
I can trust.
I have self-acceptance.


During this unprecedented time, you may be experiencing increasing feelings of uncertainty, loss, anxiety, fear, grief or rage. We are all experiencing a different reality and it can and will affect everyone very differently.

Whether you’re performing an essential job that requires long hours and potential risk to your health, or you’re navigating school re-opening, returning to work or continuing to work from home and practicing social distancing, please know that you are not alone.

We are pleased to offer the same level of compassionate care through the convenience and confidentiality of TeleTherapy services, accessible on your computer, tablet, or phone. We are welcoming fully vaccinated clients to return to the office for in-person sessions on a case by case basis.

Please stay safe and know that we are with you.

Have Questions?

Payment can be cash, check or credit card. (Please note: there is a surcharge of $2.50 per invoice.) Payment is expected at the time of each session. We are an out-of-network provider with all insurance companies. On a monthly basis we will be happy to provide receipts and/or completed insurance forms for you to submit for out of network reimbursement.
We request that you provide no less than 3 days (72 hours) notification to cancel appointments. We will make every effort to reschedule cancelled sessions within the same week, at no additional fee. If you cancel within the 72 hour period, and we are not able to reschedule within that time frame, you will be responsible for paying the full amount of our session. Note: this cannot be submitted to insurance for reimbursement.

Free Phone Consultation

We offer a free phone consultation prior to making an in-person appointment. Schedule online or call us today to get started.

Call Us: (347) 983-2233