Internal Family Systems – Parts Map

What are parts?

IFS therapy says that “parts” represent different parts of a person’s personality. We work with the various sub-personalities or “parts” within ourselves. Multiplicity of the mind is normal, but when early trauma influences our live these parts can become extreme. The goal of IFS therapy is to facilitate a harmonious relationship among these various parts. IFS involves identifying our parts and understanding their roles and relationships.

Internal Family Systems- How to map parts?

What is the Internal Family Systems parts map?

  1. Find a comfortable and safe space where you can explore your inner world without distractions.
  2. Pay attention to your emotions, thoughts, body sensations, believes and behaviors that you experience. These can give you clues about the different parts that might be operating within you.  You can start by choosing to focus on a current problem. What emotions are you feeling in regards to this problem? What thoughts come up? What body sensations surface when you think about this issue? Be aware of physical sensations, they can provide insights. What beliefs come up in regards to this problem?
  3.  Name Your Parts. Emotions, thoughts, core beliefs, or body sensations mentioned above are your parts’ expressions. So they are your parts feeling and thinking in a certain way. Now, you can choose to give them names. For example, you might have a “Perfectionist Part,” a “People-Pleasing Part,” a “Fearful Part,” and so on. This naming helps create a sense of separation between your self energy and these parts.
  4. Visual Representation: Consider creating a visual representation of your parts. You can draw a diagram or use symbols to represent each part. You can use circles, shapes, or arrows to show their relationships. Use this free and editable online map in Canva to visually represent your internal family systems parts. It’s a big size format with plenty of space to add text and many images. Upload images that remind you of your parts and add descriptions As an example, if you have an angry part, you could locate a picture of a solitary, melancholic child sitting in the corner of a room, then add the name of the part and a fitting description.
  5. Journaling: Alternatively, you can keep a journal where you document your interactions with each part. Jot down talks with your parts, what you learn about them, their emotions, and thoughts.

Integration & Further Process

The ultimate goal of mapping parts is to foster integration and harmony among them. As you engage with your parts and understand their motivations, work on finding ways to meet their needs in healthy and balanced ways. So the next step is to understand these parts and form a friendly and compassionate space. It is called the Self energy in the IFS terminology.

Remember that mapping parts is a gradual process and may require patience and self-compassion. The goal is not to eliminate parts but to understand, communicate with, and integrate them that promote inner healing and growth.

If you find this helpful you can check out my upcoming workshop: Learn IFS Basics.

You can also purchase a book from the founder of IFS, Richard Schwartz; there are a bunch of great exercises for mapping your parts.