IFS a promising treatment for PTSD
A new study has been published that found that IFS (Internal Family Systems) is “promising practice for the treatment of PTSD among adults with a history of childhood trauma.” Here is a the link to the study.
Here are the details in more plain language.
The people in the study had a history of multiple childhood traumas, including physical, psychological and sexual abuse. The study was relatively small and they did not run a different group using a different approach to compare.
In the study 17 adults received 16 sessions with therapists using IFS. They evaluated each participant before, during and after the sessions. They looked at PTSD symptoms as well the following:
Dissociation (disconnecting from one’s thoughts, feelings, memory or sense of identity)
Somatization (when the physical body expresses stress or emotion)
Affect Dysregulation (strong emotional reactions to negative things)
Disrupted self-perception (excessive guilt or shame cause people think / feel bad about themselves)
Ineroceptive Awareness (Being able to understand what is going on inside you and respond)
Self-Compassion (ability to view oneself with care)
After the study concluded they found that 92% of the participants no longer met the criteria for PTSD.
They also found a significant improvement in the areas of dissociation, somatization, affect dysregulation, and self-perception.
The results stand in contrast to other approaches to trauma like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Processing Therapy which do help lots of people, but are not as affective as we might hope. As many as 50% do no respond to these approaches and still report significant symptoms of PTSD.
What they found is very consistent with the experience of other IFS therapists that have tried other approaches. IFS is also easily integrated with other popular trauma therapies, especially the ones that use bilateral stimulation or eye movement like EMDR, ART, EMI and Brainspotting.