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lundi 19 mars 2012

IFS et dépression

Quelques bons extraits d'article en anglais sur IFS. Je ne peux pas traduire c'est trop long !
Les points liés à la dépression sont intéressant ! La dépression est vue comme une partie de nous qui souvent protège une autre partie (souvent colérique) qui elle-même protège une partie exilée et blessée (qui est souvent un petit enfant)... ou alors à force d'avoir eu des échecs, la partie "dépressive" est une partie de nous qui veut simplement nous protéger de prendre toute nouvelle intiative par peur d'un nouvel échec ou d'une nouvelle souffrance, pour se faire la partie dépressive nous enlève énergie et émotions.

“Once I was able to set aside my preconceived notions about therapy and the mind, and began to really listen to what my clients were saying, what I heard repeatedly was descriptions of what they often called ‘their parts’…” Richard C. Schwartz, Ph.D. The Internal Family Systems Model.
While many others have spoken about these “parts” within us (including Freud and Jung), Dr. Schwartz discovered the importance of paying attention to the interactions between the different internal parts of ourselves. This was an extremely important discovery. From that he was able to develop a way for therapists to help their clients finally understand all of those confusing and sometimes devastating internal conflicts that we feel and the equally confounding behavior we often see in those around us. Have you ever said to yourself: “A part of me feels this, but a part of me feels that?” He discovered that we have a kind of inner family inside our brains, with different parts of this family playing specific roles. He was able to make a map of the way these aspects of ourselves organize within us:
Internal Parts Map.  Each of us has one Self and a number of parts in each of the other categories:

  • Self – the core or center of the person (see next section.)
  • Exiles – these parts hold painful emotions or burdens from unresolved trauma. They are often young and always have vulnerable feelings.
  • Managers – these parts try to protect the Exiles from the outside world and from Firefighter parts. They also often try to hide the Exiles from the rest of the internal system. They try to keep you in control.
  • Firefighters – they try to protect too but either by distracting or by taking the system out of control so that you will get help. Examples include: Addictions, dissociation, obsessions, compulsions, shopping too much, over-exercising, workaholic behavior, self-harm.
The Self.
A key tenant of Internal Family Systems therapy is that all of us have a core Self that is never damaged and does not need to be healed. At our core we are calm, centered, compassionate, curious, connected, confident, creative, courageous, and clear. The ultimate goal of IFS therapy is for the Self to resume leadership of our lives. As little children we developed our Exile parts when we were hurt. Managers and Firefighters came along to protect us from the outside world. Just as in any external family, these parts of ourselves were born along the way and now exist within us.

It is important to realize that multiplicity (having parts) is our natural internal condition. The goal of IFS is not to get rid of any of our internal parts. It is to help them return to their original, helpful and non-extreme roles. For instance, I have a part of myself that is shy and introverted. Another part of me is outgoing and social. When I need to give a public lecture, I call upon the outgoing part and ask the shy part to stay home. My shy part is useful when I need to get a lot of reading done. Both of these aspects of myself help me a lot, if they don’t get extreme.
The work with an IFS therapist begins by learning to step back when you are fused inside of one part and to actually see or sense it in front of you. From this perspective you can talk to or sense the feelings of the part. Once you can do this, you are on the route to deep and lasting healing.

The Story.

One of the biggest gifts Dr. Schwartz has given to the world of therapy, in my view, is that he takes the existence of parts within us seriously. While many of us sense that we have different aspects of ourselves inside there, we tend to ignore or discount that fact. This is one of the reasons that it is so hard for us to heal sometimes.
A big part of the IFS process is to stop ignoring our internal parts and start really listening to them, just as we would our own children. Over-reactive parts of ourselves need to tell us about their fears and worries. When we ignore them, just like children, they act out more and more. Until they get heard and trust your core Self again, they will not let go of the extreme role they have within your system.
As an example, think of a woman named Ann. She goes through long periods of feeling very depressed. She can not seem to get rid of this “terrible depression.” Even medication does not seem to help very much. In the IFS Model, her depression is a part. It has a story it needs to tell her. Chances are very good that its role is to protect her from a really angry part she also has inside. Like all the others, this angry part is just performing a job for her. Most likely it is protecting a vulnerable and wounded young part of her from getting more wounded by the outside world. And it is probably also protecting her from knowing something that happened to her when she was a little girl. Several things have to happen for Ann to heal.

  • She needs to unblend from her parts. To learn what is a “part” and what is “Self.”
  • She needs to really listen to her parts, hearing their worries and fears.
  • She needs to show her parts that they can trust her core Self.
  • She needs to wait to talk to some parts until other protective parts have enough trust in the process.
  • She needs to help each burdened part of herself release the toxic cargo it is carrying.
  • She needs to help each part replace its burdens with something wonderful.
  • She needs to help her over-reactive aspects find new “jobs” to do.
  • She needs to lead her parts from her core Self.
An IFS therapist knows how to help you through each one of the steps listed above. At the same time the therapist is always teaching you how to “lead with Self,” how to work with and understand your own internal map. In this way, you are becoming your own therapist!

Some of the things you can expect from working with me are:

  • Learning about your own internal structure and becoming able to deal with life’s challenges with confidence.
  • Coming to feel a regular sense of the natural centeredness, calm, compassion, creativity and curiosity you were born with.
  • Understanding other people’s “irrational” and “annoying” behavior and knowing how to cope with whatever is directed at you.
  • Healing those old wounds that have made you feel vulnerable, sad, fearful or angry.
  • Having a more joyful and fulfilling life.


In a culture such as ours where the goal of instant and total happiness is promoted, depression can be a stigmatised condition; and is often viewed as a moral failure. This can make it difficult for people to seek help, particularly when a part of the system may have internalized this belief. The very nature of depressed parts is that they may believe there is no hope, and again may dissuade a person from seeking support.
When depressed parts blend with us (so we experience ourselves as only that part) we may experience “depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration.” (World Health Organization) and it is hard to recognise that this is a part of the personality system seeking attention.
Oftentimes depressed parts are protectors for the system. The blanket of emotional fog that emanates from them can effectively prevent the parts that have hope and motivation from being accessed.
One might ask how this can be protection, and the answer lies in recognising that a continuing cycle of hope, then hopes being dashed, then more optimism, then devastation can lead to protectors deciding that it is simply not safe to have hope; it can only result in more pain. If depression or despair is present then there is no “risk” that hope will lead to more pain. There is no need to take responsibility for anything. There is a kind of peace in the system – the peace of absence of feeling.
When working with a depressed part it is important to recognise the value it has as a resource in the system. And to ask it if it is willing to allow you (Self) access to the part or parts it is protecting; the ones that carry the pain and hurt (exiles) that may be connected to hope for change.
Once the exiles are heard and unburdened the protector may choose a different form of protection for the system, and the depression need no longer be present.

IFS Therapy
We all have deep within us a non-judgmental Core Self that has the characteristics of calm, confidence, compassion, courage, curiosity, connectedness, and clarity. Ideally, the Core Self is the Captain of our human ship, and leads us through life in consultation with our various parts.  When the Core Self is at the helm, we experience ourselves as “Being in the Flow” and experience a sense of joyful spontaneity.  Everything seems connected and effortless. 
 We also have “Parts” that are either protectors or exiles, helping us to live our lives and make sense of experiences. 
The parts called Exiles are vulnerable combinations of thoughts and feelings that we pick up through life such as feeling Unlovable, or feeling like a Failure, or feeling Bad in some way.  When feelings from these vulnerable exiles surface it is painful and difficult.  Therefore, our Manager protector parts work overtime to keep us from feeling those feelings ever again by such means as keeping us busy or away from memories. When our Exiled feelings do come up, our other protectors, the Firefighters, jump right in.  Firefighters could be in the form of Drinking, Binge Eating, Anger, Changing the Subject, Addictions, or anything that will push the Exiles and their feelings away. 
Richard C. Schwartz, PhD, author of the book, You Are the One You’ve Been Waiting For, discovered this phenomenon by listening to his clients as they described their inner lives made up of many parts almost like a family within. He developed the Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) as a deep way of understanding our inner lives and healing the vulnerable exiles.  IFS has been a remarkable tool for thousands of people for inner healing and for life enhancement, and self empowerment.  Many report more calm, joy, confidence, a connectedness with others, and self compassion, all qualities of the Core Self.
IFS therapy has been useful for persons with PTSD, depression, divorce, anxiety, perfectionism, addictions, and other symptoms.  IFS therapy is especially good for improving relationships.  Many couples have found a greater connection after IFS Couples Therapy. 

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