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Navigating Internal Polarizations: A Therapeutic Journey with IFS, EMDR, and Beyond

Updated: Apr 21

Within each of us lies a complex tapestry of thoughts, emotions, and experiences that shape our inner world. Sometimes, this internal landscape can become fraught with conflict and polarization, leaving us feeling fragmented and disconnected from ourselves. In such instances, an integrative approach using Internal Family Systems (IFS), EMDR, Somatic therapies, and beyond offers greater understanding, communication, and integration of the various parts of our selves. This blog will explore a step-by-step guide to working with inner conflict and polarizations using an integrative IFS approach.


Using IFs & EMDR therapy to cultivate compassion and curiosity
Cultivate Compassion & Curiosity

Cultivate Curiosity and Compassion: 

Approach polarizations with curiosity and compassion. Encourage clients to explore the different parts involved in the conflict, inviting them to express their concerns, desires, and fears. By approaching each part with an open mind and non-judgmental attitude, clients can start building a trusting and empathetic relationship with their internal family members.


Recognize and Acknowledge Polarizations:

The journey towards healing begins with acknowledging the presence of internal conflicts and polarizations within our psyche. These conflicting parts often emerge as protective mechanisms in response to past experiences or traumas. By recognizing their presence, we create space for understanding and healing.


Cultivate Self-Leadership:

Central to the IFS integrative approach is the concept of the Self, a compassionate and grounded presence within each individual. Cultivating self-leadership involves connecting with this core aspect of ourselves, which serves as a guiding force in navigating internal conflicts with wisdom and clarity.


Externalize and Identify Parts:

Encourage clients to externalize their internal parts by giving them names and personifying them. For example, a protective part might be named "The Protector," while a vulnerable part could be named "The Inner Child." Explore the roles, emotions, beliefs, and motivations of each part through compassionate inquiry.


Facilitate Internal Dialogue:

Once your client has identified the conflicting parts, facilitate a dialogue between them. Ask each part to express its intentions, concerns, and fears. Encourage an open conversation where each part can listen to and understand the other's perspective. Remember, the therapist's role is to act as a mediator, guiding the conversation and ensuring that all parts feel heard and respected.


Acknowledge Positive Intentions:

Every part within the internal system carries positive intentions, even if their methods or behaviors are counterproductive or conflicting.  Help clients explore and appreciate the positive intentions behind each part's actions.  This understanding fosters compassion and paves the way for finding more adaptive strategies to fulfill those intentions.


Unburden Exiled Parts:

Polarization often stems from unhealed wounds or traumas carried by exiled parts within the internal system. Support clients in creating a safe and nurturing environment for these exiles to express themselves. Through gentle exploration and healing interventions, such as guided visualization or EMDR techniques, clients can release the emotional burdens held by their exiles and integrate their experiences into their sense of Self.


Build Inner Collaboration and Integration:

As the therapeutic journey progresses, assist clients in finding common ground between polarized parts. Encourage them to explore ways in which the parts can collaborate, finding a balanced approach that respects the needs and concerns of each part. Help clients integrate the strengths and positive qualities of both parts, fostering a sense of wholeness and harmony within their internal system. 


Foster Cooperation and Harmony:

Facilitate communication and negotiation among conflicting parts, helping them recognize their shared goal of protection and well-being. Encourage cooperation rather than dominance or suppression, exploring ways in which parts can work together towards mutual understanding and integration.


Integrate Conflicting Parts:

Guide clients in integrating conflicting parts into the Self, recognizing that all parts have valuable insights and contributions. Encourage parts to relinquish extreme roles and polarized beliefs, fostering a sense of balance, flexibility, and harmony within the internal system.


Practice Self-Compassion and Self-Care:

Encourage clients to cultivate self-compassion and self-care practices as they navigate their inner conflicts and polarizations. Acknowledge the courage and resilience required for this journey, offering support and validation throughout the therapeutic process.


Evaluate and Review Progress:

Continuously monitor clients' progress in integrating conflicting parts and resolving internal polarizations. Celebrate achievements and milestones along the journey towards inner harmony and self-integration, remaining flexible and adaptive in adjusting therapeutic interventions based on evolving needs and experiences.


Working with inner conflict and polarizations through an integrative approach that uses IFS therapy, an EMDR Lens, somatic techniques, and transpersonal understandings requires patience, empathy, and a commitment to self-discovery and healing. By embracing the complexity of the psyche and honoring the wisdom of its parts, individuals can cultivate greater self-awareness, resilience, and well-being. Through this journey of integration, inner harmony and wholeness become achievable goals.


With love, AGLOW


Stacy Ruse, LPC


Stacy Ruse, LPC, is an esteemed Evergreen EMDR consultant, IFS-Institute consultant, and founder of Aglow Counseling. Stacy teaches a therapeutic style that is characterized by the art of EMDR & IFS therapies with a transpersonal twist, transcending the conventional boundaries of traditional therapy. Her holistic approach acknowledges the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit allowing individuals to tap into their innate resilience and ignite their personal transformation journey. As a trauma expert, national and international trainer, and clinical consultant, Stacy's approach is deeply rooted in trauma-informed methodologies.

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AGLOW is a global hub for therapists and the world. Led by trauma expert Stacy Ruse, LPC, providing training, consultation, and counseling services. Specializing in an integrative approach using EMDR, IFS, Somatic & Transpersonal therapies to inspire therapists and individuals alike.





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