Internal Family Systems to Relieve Pain, Reduce Stress, and Improve Health Conditions
- Does it ever feel like your body is getting in the way of you improving your life or health?
- Do you struggle with understanding why your body just can’t seem to relax?
- Do you ever feel like you just can’t trust what’s going on with your own body because of what’s going on in it?
As a physician that is quadruple board certified in Family Medicine, Integrative Medicine, Medical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, I specialize in treating chronic pain and stress-related conditions. Patients are often referred to me by other physicians or practitioners because patients haven’t been able to get any relief or answers. There often is an incredible amount of pent-up frustration with the situation, with their health and their body. This frustration is completely understandable and I often hear things like:
- I keep trying to figure out what’s wrong with my body and I’ve seen so many doctors and no one can really tell me what’s going on.
- I wish I could just try a medication or have a procedure, but I just can’t seem to get my body to do it.
- I am used to just going about my day, or ignoring what’s going on, but I keep having symptoms in my body and the uncertainty is unnerving and no one knows why.
The heart of the problem is some type of internal conflict. Conflict with the medical system and/or physicians. Conflict with medications or procedures. Conflict with symptoms or your own body.
Is it possible to resolve this internal conflict? And what would happen if this internal conflict was resolved?
Yes, it is possible to resolve this conflict! There’s a psychotherapeutic modality called Internal Family Systems (IFS) that is tailor-made to address this. IFS is based on the notion that our personality is made up of parts. Most people don’t have control over these aspects of their personality, or parts, and they often react automatically to situations. Conflict occurs when parts of us react in ways that cause problems, like conflict with our body for example. IFS is a way of developing a relationship with these parts of our personalities so we can find out why they do what they do. When we get to know these parts better, what we find is that these automatic reactions are often protecting vulnerable or more sensitive parts. Ultimately, we can help heal any pain or vulnerability that may be fueling these automatic reactions. Once that happens, this can resolve the inner conflict and we can then choose how we want to respond, rather than just reacting.
There’s been research done on Internal Family Systems with rheumatoid arthritis patients. What they found is that there was often an internal conflict between a part of themselves that focused on taking care of everyone else but themselves and a part of themselves that was actually feeling emotionally overwhelmed or vulnerable and needing attention. As this internal conflict resolved and improved, pain was relieved and self-compassion increased. In fact, a year after the intervention patients still had improvements in joint pain, self-compassion and depressive symptoms! This research was reviewed by the National Registry of Evidence-based Practices and Programs (NREPP) and they accepted and recognized IFS Therapy as an evidence-based modality.
I’ve been working with patients since 2008 in utilizing mind-body techniques and practices and now utilize IFS as the foundation of my work with patients who are wanting to improve their relationship with their body, their health, and their health conditions. I’ve received additional training in IFS and have served as faculty at the University of Santa Monica’s Spiritual Psychology program since 2012 primarily in the Consciousness, Health and Healing program.
Conditions that I find IFS to be useful for:
- Chronic Pain Conditions
- Tension Headaches
- Migraine Headaches
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- TMJ syndrome
- Chronic abdominal or pelvic pain syndromes
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Stress-related conditions
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Interstitial cystitis
- Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome
- Inappropriate sinus tachycardia
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
- Functional dypepsia
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Spasmodic dysphonia
- Medical Trauma
Have any questions if Internal Family Systems can help you? Setup a free 10 minute consultation with Dr. Chee to see if IFS is a good fit for you as well as answer any of your questions.