Intimacy From the Inside Out (IFIO) is a couples therapy method built on the foundational principles of the Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy developed by Dr. Richard C. Schwartz. Couples enter therapy to feel loved, safe, understood, and to build intimacy for their unit of two. IFIO therapy is experiential and process-oriented.
Healing Internal Attachment
With a focus on generating internal attachment stability to sustain each partner through the moments when the other is unavailable, couples in IFIO therapy reconnect with their essential needs, change their conversations and learn to make requests that invite rather than threaten in order to get those needs met.
Couples start therapy when their two internal systems collide with each other to produce the rigid patterns that drive them toward dissolution. Each person brings in their injured parts who were exiled in various ways by their own protective parts, whose protection, while desperately needed at origination, has become an integral part of the problem.
In IFIO therapy we work to gain the cooperation of each person’s protectors in order to be effective in treatment. There is a wide range of content issues or behavioral interactions in session that arises with any couple.
Intimate Relationship Factors
Intimate relationships are formed and maintained based on many factors, including but not limited to:
- Intergenerational influences
- Religion and spirituality
- Gender and sexuality
- Cultural and legacy burdens
- People’s connectedness to extended family or self-made community
In couples therapy, the client is the couple system, not two separate individuals. The whole is greater than the sum of two parts and the relationship has a life of its own. IFIO therapy helps couples increase their capacity for emotional co-regulation, unblend from their inner protective parts, and bring more Self energy into the relationship.
IFIO Therapy Phases
The 3 Phases of IFIO therapy are:
Phase 1 Beginning: the couple presents the relationship – their hopes, desires and goals; and the current challenges and fears. The couple is introduced to the IFS model and learns about the possibilities of positive transformations.
Phase 2 Eddies and Flows: the couple follows non-linear protocols to experience staying securely connected inside, while being securely connected to the partner, in order to deepen connection and intimacy. We identify and track the couple’s negative cycles of interaction to help notice how unmet needs for safety, connection or love, fuel their fights. Once these needs have been identified, the partners do internal healing work in the presence of their compassionate witness.
Phase 3 Ending: the couple repairs and envisions the future. The couple practices resolution and forgiveness. The couple experiences the launch of a relationship that acknowledges differences with love and mutuality, and shares a vision.
IFIO Therapy with Elaine Korngold
IFIO therapist attends to the needs of each person and to the connection between the two people. IFIO therapist does this by guiding couples to understand how they project childhood injury into current relationships. When a partner feels threatened, frustrated or angry, they can lose track of their underlying needs to feel safe, connected and loved.
IFIO therapist unblends from their own protectors so that no matter what is happening in session, we can respond to the couple spontaneously, from our heart, drawing on our inner wisdom, life experience and training, while staying unattached to how things “ought” to go.
I am a Certified IFS Therapist with additional training in IFIO. I also have extensive training in the evidence-based Gottman Method Couple Therapy. In my sessions with couples I blend in these two approaches to create the structure of the treatment process and to enable deep healing for the relationship. I also specialize in working with mixed neurology couples in a neurodiversity affirming setting. Contact me to learn more.