Ellen Sharp, PhD
IFS-INFORMED INTEGRATION COACH
I help people prepare for and integrate experiences of non-ordinary consciousness.
We all possess the capacity to heal ourselves. I use a therapeutic modality known as IFS (Internal Family Systems) to track and reflect your internal states, guiding you as you shine the light of your inner knowing on the places within that need your attention. This tending and befriending allows you to live a more harmonious and fulfilling life, one in which you feel more deeply connected to yourself, to others and to nature. Psychedelics are a wonderful ally in this process. Altered states of consciousness take our default mode network offline, allowing us to fully feel the undamaged, untraumatized presence that is who we truly are.
Affordable IFS Therapy
What I Do
IFS stands for internal family systems, an uncharismatic name for a very effective technique for understanding yourself and others. With roots in Jungian psychology and gestalt, IFS is based on two premises:
1. We all contain multiples.
2. All of these subpersonalities just want what’s best for us.
In practice, it can be hard to feel like everything inside of you is well-intentioned. Say your inner critic is lacerating you, your inner child is cowering in a corner and other parts of you jump in to put you out of your misery by mindlessly scrolling social media, pouring the first drink of the day or eating a gummy. Usually we’re not conscious of these elements as separate parts, but in IFS we take the time to separate them out, giving them our attention and hearing their stories. While some spiritual traditions talk about transcending or killing off the ego, the goal of IFS is to establish congenial relations with all of your egoic fractals. When you do this, you experience fewer doubts, anxieties and inner conflicts as your entire system starts to function more harmoniously.
Apart from our parts, we all have a Self, a presence within that remains pure and untarnished by the vagaries of life. This Higher Self can never be overwhelmed by pain and has enough curiosity and compassion to tend to all of our well-armored and tender places. Bringing Self online to witness our own distress causes your whole system to take a sigh of relief, as you ease into and appreciate the beautiful being that you already are and the beautiful life that you have. It’s akin to falling in love with yourself. And this love is available to all of us, no matter how traumatic and loveless our lives have been up to this point.
Unlike conventional talk therapy, it’s not my role to provide brilliant interpretations, give advice or empathize with you. The healing doesn’t happen through transference with me. Nor is IFS about telling your story. In fact, you don’t have to tell me anything, because the healing is not in the telling. Rather, the healing is within you, in the intrapsychic witnessing that takes place when your Self makes contact with the parts of you that need your attention.
Very common parts include perfectionism, people-pleasing, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and any number of addictive processes (drinking, smoking, cutting, or even just obsessively checking your cellphone…) We welcome all of these parts and thank them for their efforts: they are only trying to keep you from feeling the pain of very young, exiled parts. Once we gain the trust and permission of these protectors, we can work to unburden the frightened inner children they’ve been working so hard to defend. When you do this, you start living a life where you’re able to act from choice rather than compulsion, responding rather than reacting to its vicissitudes.
An IFS session is akin to a guided meditation through your inner landscape. My job is to hold a compassionate space for you, creating a safe container as I guide you on your inner exploration. I track and reflect your ever-shifting states, naming your parts for you as they appear. While I may make suggestions, I’ll never tell you what to do, because what needs to happen inside of you is something that you already know. I help you clear the space so you can access this inner knowing. When I do this, I get to access my own compassion and curiosity. Ideally, we leave our session feeling lighter and more in touch with our authentic selves.
Psychedelics like psilocybin and even cannabis can heighten and accelerate the work of IFS. States of non-ordinary consciousness make it easier see your parts as a part of you rather than all of you. They also make it easier to access and bask in the compassionate presence of your Higher Self.
Per IFS, bad trips happen when we don’t take the time to get the consensus of all of our parts before a journey. A manager part might have read How to Change Your Mind or other positive press and said, “Sign me up, we’ve got to get fixed.” Yet other more tender parts might feel afraid of unconscious material that could come to light when the medicine lifts the lid of your unconscious. Sometimes these fearful parts can be so strong that people can be completely unresponsive to high doses of medicine.
Before an experience, we take our time to consult all of your parts, getting to know them, hearing their hesitations and concerns, and asking their permission. We also spend this preparation period negotiating what kind of role you will want me to have during your experience. For some, I will sit with you and quietly hold space, communing with my Higher Self in order to amplify your experience of your own. Others may want more interaction, and this is something we will plan in advance according to your comfort level. Following up with integration, when you share your insights with all of your parts, is essential to making sure you have the most beneficial and transformational experience possible.
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