Trauma and IFS

Trauma is an emotional response of a survivor or witness to a terrible event such as a violent crime, natural disaster, military action, devastating loss, or an abusive relationship. It may come as a result of a single life-threatening event or in the course of the long, slow burn of a neglectful upbringing or toxic relationship.


The traumatic event overwhelms the person's normal capacity to cope with stress. Traumatic symptoms of shock, denial, dissociation, and so on help the person to survive the experience. The experience of the trauma and these symptoms remain alive until the survivor discovers new coping strategies emabling the body and mind to heal the impact of the devastating event.


Treatment for trauma proceeds in stages. In the first stage, individuals are given coping skills to help manage feelings of overwhelm and empowered to make choices about how much trauma material to deal with at one time. It is not a good idea to try to face everything at once or to face more than we know we can handle. The first stage involves developing the skills to handle intense feelings and intrusive thoughts more effectively.


In the second stage individuals begin the work of processing traumatic memories and learn to distinguish past and present. Choosing which parts to work with and for how long is important. IFS is a powerful tool for working with parts that are still living with the pain of past experiences.






Introduction to IFS


Dr. Lori Olds created a playlist of videos in which she offers an excellent introduction to IFS


Here is the first video:




You may also follow deeper conversations at IFS Talks



This guided meditation comes from Self-Therapy by Jay Earley, PhD


Self Meditation
Self-Therapy by Jay Earley (Pattern System Books, 2022) p. 108-109
MP4 video/audio file [4.5 MB]

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