Combining EMDR and Internal Family Systems therapies

Dec 04, 2023


When it comes to holistic healing, there are various therapeutic approaches that can be combined to provide a comprehensive and effective treatment. One such combination is the integration of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Internal Family Systems (IFS). These two modalities, although distinct, can work together synergistically to address a wide range of emotional and psychological issues.

The Power of EMDR

EMDR is a psychotherapy technique that has been proven to be highly effective in treating trauma, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. By using bilateral eye movements or other forms of rhythmic stimulation, EMDR helps individuals process distressing memories and experiences, reducing their emotional impact and promoting healing.

How EMDR Works

During an EMDR session, the therapist guides the client to focus on a specific traumatic memory or distressing event while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation. This could involve following the therapist's fingers with their eyes or listening to alternating sounds in headphones. The bilateral stimulation helps activate the brain's natural healing mechanisms, allowing the client to reprocess the traumatic memory in a more adaptive way.

EMDR therapy

The Essence of Internal Family Systems

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a therapeutic model that focuses on understanding and harmonizing the different parts of an individual's psyche. According to IFS, each person has various subpersonalities or "parts" that play different roles and hold different emotions. By identifying and working with these parts, individuals can achieve a greater sense of self-awareness, self-compassion, and healing.

Working with Parts in IFS

In an IFS session, the therapist helps the client explore and communicate with different parts of themselves. These parts may represent different emotions, beliefs, or protective mechanisms. By understanding the intentions and needs of each part, individuals can develop a more compassionate and balanced relationship with themselves.

Internal Family Systems therapy

The Synergy of EMDR and IFS

Combining EMDR and IFS can be particularly powerful in holistic healing. Both modalities work on different levels of the individual's experience and can complement each other in the therapeutic process.

Addressing Trauma with EMDR and IFS

EMDR can help individuals process and desensitize traumatic memories, while IFS can provide a framework for understanding and integrating the different parts of themselves that were affected by the trauma. By combining these approaches, individuals can heal not only the distressing memories but also the underlying emotional wounds associated with the trauma.

Trauma healing

Benefits of Combining EMDR and IFS

When EMDR and IFS are used together, clients may experience a range of benefits:

  • Enhanced self-awareness: IFS helps individuals develop a deeper understanding of their internal world, while EMDR brings awareness to the specific memories and emotions linked to trauma or distress.
  • Integration of conflicting emotions: IFS allows individuals to explore and reconcile conflicting emotions, while EMDR helps process the emotional charge associated with traumatic experiences.
  • Improved self-compassion: Both modalities promote self-compassion, allowing individuals to approach their healing journey with kindness and understanding.
  • Greater emotional resilience: By addressing both the traumatic memories and the underlying parts involved, individuals can develop greater emotional resilience and a sense of wholeness.


Combining EMDR and IFS offers a holistic and comprehensive approach to healing trauma, anxiety, and other emotional challenges. The integration of these two powerful modalities allows individuals to address the root causes of their distress while developing a deeper understanding and connection with themselves. If you are seeking a transformative healing experience, consider exploring the synergy of EMDR and IFS with a qualified therapist.