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  • dionerousseau

How To Continue Your Healing Outside Of Therapy Sessions

The internal family part of internal family systems therapy refers to our internal experience - all of the aspects or parts of ourselves that makeup how we feel, what we do, how we do it, how we interpret and react to the world.

In IFS therapy sessions, we get to know these aspects of ourselves intimately. But when we leave the session, we go back to our usual lives and back into our cycles of becoming blended and seeing through the lenses of whatever part becomes activated until we return to them the next scheduled session.

If you want to make your counselling/therapy experience more conscious and commit to the healing of your inner child(ren), it’s extremely beneficial to spend time being with your inner ‘family’. 

This can look like closing your eyes while you’re having your coffee or tea throughout the day and letting yourself consciously feel and be a witness to all of the emotions, thoughts and feelings that are happening inside in that moment - or in a reflection of a difficult situation, noticing who gets activated inside and why.

You do not have to spend a long time doing this, it may just be for a few moments. Making contact with your inner children and being with the aspects of yourself from a place of conscious awareness and compassion can provide some much needed comfort and support from especially the anxious, worried or agitated parts of you.

If you’re just starting out on your therapy journey and are just getting to know the aspects of you from a witnessing place, then perhaps during these moments you’re sinking inside of yourself to notice how these aspects of you feel in your body, what their fears are, what they react to and how.

If you are aware of many aspects of you already then being with them from a place of understanding and comfort will help them feel more at ease and will further build their trust in your ability to support them. 

If you’re unsure what I mean by being with aspects of you from a witnessing place, what I’m talking about is the aspect of you that is the witness to it all. In IFS it is called the Self. It’s who you are underneath the activation, it’s the awareness of the aspects of you who get activated.

Once you start to get to know the aspects inside of you, how they’re feeling, what they do and how they do it, you can be with them from a re-parenting/mothering perspective and from a loving and understanding place. Once these aspects of you feel you there with them and feel your understanding of what they’ve been through and are going through, you are meeting some of their biggest needs and providing them with much relief.

This is so important because most of the time, when we’re upset, angry, defensive, scared, we seek validation and reassurance from others, externally. When we do this, it sets us up for disappointment because so often others don’t know how to get outside of their own projections in order to really see and validate us. 

Or when someone does see and validate us, it provides us with a temporary feeling of relief that eventually wears away as we encounter further challenges and triggers in the world. The validation from others externally may be temporarily relieving but it is not enough to heal our inner child.

The more you make compassionate contact with the different aspects of yourself or your inner child(ren), the more awareness and trust from these aspects of yourself that there is a space inside of you that can hold and support them in all of their feelings and perspectives. 

It can be immensely relieving within itself just to recognize that our distressing thoughts and feelings are merely aspects or parts of us, not all of us. From this perspective we can see the distressing thoughts and feelings as aspects of us that are trying really hard to ‘fix’ or find a solution in an attempt to make us feel better. 

Regardless of how destructive or counterproductive a behaviour/thought/feeling might be, there is always a positive intention that it has for us underneath it. 

In moments of acknowledging these aspects of ourselves from this awareness, even if we don’t yet know how to help the distressed aspect of ourselves, we can at least pause, tell that part of us that we know it’s carrying a lot and that we know it really cares and we can plan to tend to it in session. This is an important part of the unburdening/re-parenting process.

Not all aspects of us can be helped all at once or in one session, instead they tend to bubble up and expose themselves to us over time showing themselves in different ways, giving us memories that they’re connected to, etc. so it is incredibly helpful to touch base with them like this even if we don’t know everything about them yet or how to help them. 

Just making compassionate contact knowing that you intend to return to these aspects of you in a conscious way in session to get to know and help them more can provide them with a greater sense of trust in the space inside of you that can be of support to them. It is the ultimate healing place - YOU.

If you have any questions or are interested in meeting for a free consultation regarding my counselling services, please send me an email at or fill out the contact form on my website. I’d love to hear from you!

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