Continuing IFS Work in a New Session

Frequently, you will end an IFS session before you have completed the piece of work you started—in other words, before you have fully unburdened your target part and any exiles it is protecting. When you begin your next session, it is often useful to pick up the work where you left off in the previous session. This isn’t always necessary. Sometimes you may want to begin a new session with a different part because something urgent has come up in your life. However, don’t wait too long to pick up the thread of previous work so you don’t leave your parts hanging or lose track of the exploration you have already begun.

How to Continue Your IFS Session

Here’s how to continue from where you left off in a previous session. First re-access the part you were working on. Review your notes from that session to jump-start your memory, reminding yourself of what you learned about the target part, your relationship with it, and where you were in the IFS process. Remember to be aware of any concerned parts or protectors that didn’t fully step aside. You may need to begin with one of them.

Remember how you knew the part in the previous session through a visual image, body sensation, emotion, and/or internal voice. Re-access the part using that modality. For example, if you had an image of the Caretaker as a mother with an apron, use that image to re-access the part. Ask the part what it is feeling now and if it is ready to continue interacting with you. Then continue where you left off at the end of the previous session. For example, if you were getting to know the caretaker but hadn’t yet understood its positive intent for you, ask questions that will uncover that. Sometimes you may need to get to know the part over again to renew your connection with it experientially.

Don’t assume that the part will be exactly the same as before. Be prepared for it to feel different now than it did in the last session or have different things to say to you. For example, maybe the caretaker was very concerned about your husband in the last session, but now it is worried about your child.