The Multiple Mind

Lizbeth @ Multiple Mind
3 min readMay 4, 2023

The Internal Family Systems therapy model can transform every aspect of life: finding peace in conflict, fulfilling relationships, better parenting, healing the scars of trauma, racism and more.

With this powerful model, we can make wise decisions that bring about lasting change.

Internal Family Systems is a method of psychotherapy, and a model of understanding the inner world. It was developed by Richard Schwartz, a psychologist with a background in family therapy and systems thinking.

At the heart of the model is the multiple mind. We are made up of different parts or sub-personalities. IFS uses a familiar language to describe the inner system.

“A part of me really wants this job, but another part of me is worried that I can’t cope.”

It aligns with the breadth and diversity of the human experience.

However, it is a challenge to the firmly entrenched model of the monolithic mind. Clients may wonder if they are like Sybil and have multiple personality disorder.

But multiplicity is normal. The model explains how a person behaves so differently with different people and in different situations in their lives.

The inner system is made up of parts — managers, firefighters, and exiles. Managers and firefighters are protector parts whose role is to protect our exiles from getting re-triggered. Our exiles carry burdens of trauma and emotional pain.

Managers are proactive. They run a tight ship and keep everything under control so that trauma and emotional pain stay locked away.

Firefighters are reactive. They distract us from emotional pain, or resort to extreme behaviors once the pain has been re-triggered.

There are no bad parts. When truly heard, we can understand that they all have good intentions, though not always the best strategies. Therefore, in IFS, all parts are welcome.

In my practice, I value all parts of you, even those you may loathe, deny, or feel deep shame towards. I help people make friends with the parts they don’t understand so they can learn to appreciate them in the fullness of their experiences.

There is a deep peace that comes with quietening the internal cacophony and knowing that, while we may not condone their behaviors, we truly seek to understand all parts. Then, they may step into healthy and life-affirming roles.

At the core of everyone is the Self — your essence; your true self; pure, unadulterated, joyous You. Some people understand it as their highest Self, Christ-nature, or Buddha-nature. The Self is curious, calm, centered, and compassionate.

When we lead from Self-energy, we can heal old wounds, change patterns of reactiveness, transform conflict, and make wise choices.

It is time for a paradigm shift, for people to become fluent and familiar with their multiple minds so that everyone may have greater self-awareness, healing, and wholeness.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay.

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Lizbeth @ Multiple Mind

Certified Internal Family Systems practitioner, educator, conflict mediator, laughter-yoga leader. I blog about the multiple mind, applying IFS therapy to life.