How does IFS informed EMDR work?

Dec 10, 2023

Software and Hardware

I've developed a focused passion for seeing psychological therapy through the lens of 'trauma' in the light on people like Bessel Van Der Kolk and Gabor Māte who see most emotional and relational problems as a product of emotional trauma, beginning in childhood. 

Our attachment years growing up are significant, even if we have PTSD from a big-T trauma in our adult lives. Our feelings are 'young' in many ways and these parts can be easily wounded. So modern therapy integrates Internal Family Systems (or 'parts') therapy with attachment-focused EMDR. These therapies reconnect you with your self and process and befriend root causes. 

I love stories and i'm on the panel of The Orwell Prize for Dystopian Fiction for 2024 and I believe in the power of processing your stories. And yet often we get stuck with old narratives of our selves. It's like we have old software running an old programme in our nervous system.  Sometimes these stories become sick and show up as 'symptoms'. For example panic disorder can be 'old software on repeat'. How do we fix the panic? We connect with it and give it a hug. We unburden the panic using EMDR and reset the software. 

Moreover, sometimes these sort of symptoms (ADD, OCD, PTSD) belong to generations going way back in your family system. Abuses, abandonments, neglect can be handed down like the 'sins of the father'. I use protocols for pre-verbal trauma and transgenerational trauma. We can give therapy to your ancestors and heal the vortex of handed-down trauma.  

In the sessions, we begin by making you feel safe. Often your nervous system is dysregulated and out of sync. So we add resources to stabilise your sense of self. I use meditation techniques and tapping to connect you with your body. This is because your feelings are mostly in your body. We love and befriend your self with compassion. 

We can begin to locate a current problem ie ye old panic. We can find the overactive part, desensitise the trauma and dialogue with the part. We can bridge back to your childhood and locate the source of loneliness or abandonment or shame. Often emotional problems relate to you losing touch with your inner child. So we give these 'hurt' parts a hug. 

IFS, on the other hand, is a psychotherapeutic model developed by Richard Schwartz in the 1980s. It views the mind as made up of relatively discrete subpersonalities, each with its own viewpoint and qualities. IFS aims to understand and harmonize these subpersonalities or "parts" and to help individuals become more self-led.

IFS Therapy