I recently discovered these great comics about the experience of Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy: Mardou is a British cartoonist who lives in the US – https://ifscomics.com/
She says: “These comics inspired by the Internal Family Systems therapy model (or IFS) began as something I drew for myself in my sketchbook as a way to record and help integrate the work I’d done in sessions with my therapist.”
“We all struggle, at one time or another, with emotions and relationships and just with being human. Learning the IFS model and applying it to my inner life has helped me so much. I’m happy in some small way to share my own experience with the process and perhaps shed light on what happens during an IFS session.”
“After two years of working with my parts and gaining repeated access to my Self, my inner system is so much calmer, more self-compassionate and confident. This method has been a way for me to understand myself really well and I feel I’ve got the ability now to let my Self lead me through the storms of life.”
People who are not familiar with IFS therapy, usually giggle or feel awkward initially when they are invited to communicate with their Parts. Eventually, the process becomes more natural and they are able to notice how their Parts make themselves known in daily living situations. IFS uses a combination of both top-down and bottom-up interventions.
Top-Down or Talk Therapy
Traditional supportive “talk” and strictly cognitive therapies are considered top-down methods. They use the neocortical or thinking areas of the brain and then assess or challenge thoughts to change the brain. While these techniques have scientific evidence and many great benefits, clients who have experienced trauma, stress, or crippling anxiety, find that these traditional top-down methods of therapy fail to create significant and lasting changes.
Bottom-Up or Body-Brain Based Therapy
Effective therapy for lasting change needs to prioritize bottom-up approaches and integrate them with the top-down therapies. The latest neuroscience teaches us that our body and our nervous system leads our response to the events in the environment, whereas the thoughts in our neocortex follow, usually quite a bit later. In bottom-up therapies, the therapist works with the client’s body and autonomic nervous system to help the client’s system unburden as it processes a sensation or a movement somatically. This results in a cascading effect on the emotional brain and helps put client’s thinking brain in the neocortex at ease.
IFS supports vertical (top-down and bottom-up) integration. Feel free to reach out to Elaine Korngold to learn more about how IFS helps specific conditions and how Elaine uses it in sessions to help her clients.