If you're interested in MDMA therapy, you may want to learn about IFS therapy.

New to or MDMA? Check out our overview page.

Here are some reasons that you’ll benefit massively from looking into IFS therapy if you’re interested in MDMA therapy.

I wrote this post because I recently discovered IFS and have found it so useful that I want to help more people discover it. I have no association with any IFS companies – I just want more people to discover the benefits!

MDMA therapy seems to enhance IFS therapy, and IFS is a primary therapy method used by MDMA therapists.

“Our preliminary analysis reveals that study participants have spontaneously brought up their awareness of different parts [IFS is all about working with parts] of themselves in 81% of the MDMA-assisted sessions, and greater understanding and acceptance of these parts have often been important elements in the therapeutic process.”1

1. IFS Therapy is a method of doing psychotherapy. It happens to be abnormally promising.

I’ve been told that it’s beginning to become extremely popular in the world of therapists. Expect IFS to get more and more popular.

2. IFS can help with eating issues, procrastination, the inner critic, depression, perfectionism, anger, indecision and more

IFS can help with eating issues, procrastination, the inner critic, depression, perfectionism, anger, indecision and more!2

Transform psychological issues, such as procrastination, depression, shyness, anxiety, eating issues, addictions, perfectionism, etc.

Working through interpersonal patterns such as people-pleasing, passive-aggressive, victim, controlling, rebel, judgmental, etc.

Healing emotional wounds from childhood such as shame, abandonment, being judged, guilt, feeling unlovable, feeling worthless, etc.

Developing healthy capacities such as love, personal power, self-confidence, life purpose, flow, creativity, peace, vitality, clarity/organization, contributing to social transformation, etc.3

IFS isn’t just for people with depression or anxiety. IFS is also for people interested in personal growth, or things like procrastination, perfectionism, or people wanting more peace, more flow, etc.

3. You can do IFS yourself, without a therapist!

Even better if you do it with a partner – and the partner can just be a friend, they don’t have to be a therapist.

There are books written all about how you can do IFS yourself or with a partner, without needing a therapist.

That said, some people have so much pain or trauma in their background that it isn’t safe to do IFS themselves or with a partner, and instead they should only do it with a trained IFS therapist. If you have high levels of pain or trauma in your background please take note of this.

4. People who’ve used IFS rave about it

“IFS is the most useful form of therapy that you can perform on yourself.”4

“This method led to more progress than any other tactic I tried in therapy”5

“Perhaps the best self-help book ever written”6

“Completely changed my life, my husband’s life, and the lives of friends. This book helped me to understand and process the many inner-critics and fearful protectors that I had running rampant in my subconscious mind. If there is one book I would recommend that people should read prior to marriage and/or having children, it is this one. The mental clarity I’ve gained from the insights in this book have completely changed my life.”7

“I think the book is excellent - I’ve already recommended it to numerous people. Internal Family Systems is the best thing I’m come across in the psych world in the course of reading a fair number of psych books in my 44 years, and this book by Earley does a great job of explaining it. … If you stumbled across this book while surfing the net, I strongly recommend you plop down the small cost to get it. It might well change your life. And at the least, I think almost all people will get at least $15 of value from it, enough to be worth the cost. It’s very rare that I find a book I can say that about.”8

IFS is even beneficial for people who’ve already done a lot of therapy. Someone told me that it’s not that therapy isn’t beneficial. Therapy bought many insights. But it didn’t bring about healing like IFS has. IFS has bought healing for them, in a way that lasts. And they know many other people who’d worked with regular therapists for years before doing IFS who have had the same experience – regular therapy brings insights and is somewhat useful, whereas IFS brings about healing.

5. IFS has promising early evidence from research studies

In arthritis patients, IFS decreased perceived pain (p = 0.04), self-compassion (p = 0.01), and depressive symptoms (p = 0.01), and these benefits remained when tested 1 year later.9

6. Read this narrative on the IFS advantage by Jay Earley

Sandy wanted to take on a creative video project, but she couldn’t seem to get started.  First she had to clean up her office, and that seemed to take forever. Then she found herself working out on the treadmill.  Okay, she thought, now I’m ready to go.  But instead of going to her office, she headed for the kitchen.  A half hour later she was preparing a 3-course meal.  After a few days like this, she acknowledged to herself that she was avoiding the project. This procrastination made her feel vaguely bad about herself, lethargic, and stuck. Sandy’s long-standing pattern of procrastination and depression was back.

If she picked up a self-help book, it would give her tips on mobilizing herself, rallying support, making decisions, and thinking positively. But these approaches ignore the crux of the problem. There is a part of Sandy that doesn’t want to work on her video project. That part is unconscious but nevertheless has the power to stop her. Actually the part has such power because it is unconscious. Since Sandy doesn’t know about it, she has no way to interact with it. A hidden part has extra influence because it can’t be addressed. It is like someone speaking ill of Sandy behind her back. Rumors would begin to fly, but Sandy wouldn’t know where they came from. She wouldn’t be able to confront the source.

If Sandy went into conventional therapy, she would probably uncover the avoidant part that keeps her busy with unrelated tasks. Then she might try to convert it or overcome it, seeing it as her enemy. However, this approach won’t work very well because it ignores the very real fears and motivations of this part. Sandy might explore where the avoidant part came from in her childhood, but this usually involves analytically understanding her history, and real change rarely comes from intellectual insight alone.

If we ask why the avoidant part operates the way it does, we see that several parts of Sandy are involved in her procrastination, and these parts have important relationships with each other. There is also a child part of Sandy who was criticized harshly by her father and made to feel incompetent. Whenever she attempts to accomplish something difficult, a task that she could fail at, that child part is triggered, like an echo from her past.  The avoidant part is not really Sandy’s enemy at all.  On the contrary, it is trying to protect this child; it is afraid she will be hurt again if Sandy tackles her video project.

There is also another force at work here.  A third part of Sandy pushes her to work hard and criticizes her when she doesn’t. It is constantly on her case to get working and be productive. All this self-criticism is grinding Sandy down, making the child part feel hated and worthless. Therefore the avoidant part is rebelling against this pushy/critical part. It doesn’t want Sandy to be dominated by harsh judgment, so it distracts her with other activities. But she can’t enjoy them because the demanding part keeps yelling at her in the background.

These parts are all extreme and are in serious conflicts with each other. Sandy feels like a ship in a storm, buffeted here and there, without a center from which to understand herself and move forward. What she needs is a way to integrate those parts into a caring, cooperative whole so she can feel good about herself and function well.

Even if all three parts were uncovered in traditional therapy, the change would need to come through a developing relationship with her therapist, which can be expensive and time-consuming to establish. Many people want to feel better but don’t want to spend a decade on a therapist’s couch to do it. Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) is an approach that helps you find your center, pinpoint the parts of you that are causing difficulties, heal them and unify them. Furthermore, IFS is not only a powerful form of therapy, it can be used for self-therapy. My IFS classes show you how to do that.

Using IFS, Sandy would learn how to access her true Self, a port in the storm, a place of strength and compassion which is the source of internal healing. Her Self would connect with each of Sandy’s three parts in a loving way that allowed them to trust her. Following the IFS procedure, she could help them release their fears and negative beliefs, allowing their natural strengths to flourish. They would learn to cooperate with each other and support the unfolding of her life. She could then move ahead with her video project passionately and without reservations.10

7. Learn more about IFS on this podcast episode

What You’ll Learn in This Episode:

What the history of the Internal Family Systems model and the Center for Self Leadership is.

The basic tenets of the Internal Family Systems model.

What the current research findings are regarding the efficacy of IFS in therapy.

How to pursue training in the IFS model.

And a great deal more!

Listen to the podcast episode here.

8. See how IFS can help with various issues:

9. What Next?

You have a few options for learning and working with IFS.

Check out the following and then pick the option that suits you best: