IFS questions


My T and I have been using IFS off and on for a few years, and it's really been the most helpful modality. Sometimes I'll be working with a smaller Part and instant body memories come up, or a problem in my day-to-day life gets resolved, etc. However, I'm wondering how much credence I should be giving to a Part when they're telling/showing/transmitting something to me.

One of my biggest struggles is not believing or wanting to believe a Part, especially when it comes to the identity of any abusers because I don't want to accuse the wrong person (even though the ones at the top of my suspect list are already known offenders/molesters).

In my memories, the perp remains unknown. Even the "scenes" and tiny blips that T and I choose to go in and work around/with, like this week for instance, the perp's whole body and face is obscured. This week it was hidden by a big frozen steam/bubble cloud (bathroom setting), but I could see the Part (smaller me) trying to get my aunt's attention to look in the bathroom to see what was happening. Now, the covered up perp could be her husband, my #1 suspect for a majority of the abuse, or her brother, another abuser whom she shared an apartment with as an adult.

Looking for anyone who can maybe give an example of how an IFS session(s) has helped them gain clarity or better understanding of a certain aspect of their trauma. When T tells me the questions to ask these Parts, I'll ask them over and over again in my mind before answering out loud just to make sure that the answers/images/transmissions they give me are and stay consistent, which they always do.

Any thoughts, experiences, clarity?


Hi! My T was not trained in IFS, she learned about it from me, so that was not our main modality. She was trained in Transactional Analysis and the Psychodynamic process, which recognizes parts, but in a different way, so she fully accepted the concept.

I don’t know if I can give you any clarity but I feel compelled to share about my experience because there is a similar quality, with the unknown/hidden aspect and being shown relevant information by my own body-mind.

In my situation I knew who the perpetrator was (my dad). Well, let me back up. I figured out that he was the perpetrator when I was around 40 years old. I had a memory that was confusing and I had misinterpreted it until that time. My mind finally discerned what was actually happening (sexual abuse) and I told my T and eventually my mom. I had been going to therapy for an unrelated reason and then when that was discovered, only a few months into working with her, the focus rapidly shifted.

My perp (this is actually the first time I’m writing that word and honestly it feels a little strange but logically it makes sense) and I had actually lived together most of my life, except for a few years here and there. I was married with children and my family and my parents shared a beautiful house with plenty of land.

I told my mom about a month after I figured it out. She asked my dad if it was true and he said yes. So I never had to confront him, because she told him to leave immediately and he did.

All that’s pretty cool but I’m getting to the part which is relevant to your story.

In the aftermath of that family break I had a long road of recovery. And in the months following my body-mind began to show me more things that my dad had done to me, but when I was only an infant. The memory I recovered which I told my mom about happened when I was around two and a half. Infant memories are considered unreliable.

So why did I trust them? Because all my life I had had some odd body sensations that would come up randomly. And after I had accepted the memory which made my dad leave as true, it was like my body (or my parts) wanted to show me why all my life I had had these odd body sensations sometimes. So my parts showing me took the form of these sort of flashbacks that happened in the shower. I say sort of flashbacks because they were like flashbacks on steroids, where my whole body was like possessed it seemed and I *knew* beyond a shadow of a doubt that what was being revealed to me was true, and after being “shown” (but much more than shown because it was like my body was reenacting what happened) I had this point of judgment which had to take place. Like all my parts, especially the infant parts which showed me, were staring at me and asking, “Do you accept this to be true?” And it was frightening because

because I don't want to accuse the wrong person
Or in my case accuse him of something he didn’t do. That felt like a load of responsibility to say in my heart of hearts that he did something and have no proof. Even though he admitted to the first thing I never wanted to talk to him again to find out if these other allegations were true and besides he could lie or forget.

But! If I didn’t accept what would be the consequences inside my own body-mind? And I have to live inside this body-mind. So I decided to accept and promised myself I would accept completely whenever this sort of flashback event would happen. And the little bit of proof that I got was that those odd sensations that would happen randomly stopped happening. And I think it’s because I figured out and accepted the source of them.

And the thing is, though, that even though I promised myself that I would accept it, I went through countless rounds of self-doubt through my recovery, which I think I’ve learned from hanging out here is normal. And ultimately I’ve mostly come to the conclusion that it wasn’t even necessarily each individual act, but the entirety of the person—he’s just not someone who is good in my life. He treated me in a really crappy way other than the sexual abuse, the whole person was no good for me.

And so I’ll never be completely certain whether my dad committed all the crimes that my body-mind revealed to me, only the one. But there’s a lot of things in life in general that I’m not certain about and I still live my life anyway! My T said I have to get more comfortable with the grey in order to feel good.

And so maybe you’ll never have the satisfaction of certainty, but you might get close and that’s a precious jewel that your body-mind can provide you. It sounds like both those offenders are/were no good for you to be around and either or both could have been sexually abusing you.

I think a helpful test is to try accepting what your parts are telling you and live your life as though it’s true. If that helps you to move forward in your recovery and reduce symptoms, then factor that in. If it makes you feel uncomfortable and worse in your symptoms and full of doubt then factor that in.

Most of all try to be gentle with yourself and your parts. My parts were scared to be judged and isolated and told they were wrong. It took me a long time to give them the nurturing they desired, but it helped me a lot with integrating myself. Best of luck to you, I look forward to following along on your journey. 💜