The Russian Nesting Doll Of IFS Therapy

“No matter how much pain or dysfunction you have to deal with in your life, every part of your psyche is doing its best to help you” – Jay Earley

I’m currently in therapy and part of this therapy in EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) and IFS (internal family system). Let me quickly explain what these acronyms mean and what they have to do with a Russian nesting doll. 

What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR is trauma therapy. In particular, it brings up traumas and then desensitizes and reprocesses them to put them in the past where they belong. The process of doing EMDR can contain a few items, including buzzers in your hands and a lightbar.

At the start of an EMDR session, my therapist leads me into the target with the buzzers buzzing. After I’m in the target and have assessed how stressful it is for me, where I’m feeling it in my body, I move to the light bar. The lightbar’s color can change based on what I want or what my therapist deems best. The buzzers continue buzzing but the lightbar’s light moves opposing to the buzzers. Thus, activating both sides of the brain, and let me tell you it is exhausting. 

What is IFS Therapy?

I’m pretty sure this is a lesser-known form of trauma therapy but it doesn’t consist of fun extras, it can but isn’t needed. The main point of IFS is to identify the different portions of who you are. This can include a protector/manager, inner child, the self, and a few more. Some might consider this DID (dissociative identity disorder) now it can be but it doesn’t inherently mean that.

What does therapy have to do with a Russian nesting doll?

A little bit ago in therapy, I was doing EMDR and processing a target from when I was younger. We had done a few sessions, meaning the lightbar and buzzers going for a bit then stop and we chat for a bit. This time when the buzzers and lightbar were paused and my therapist asked me how I was feeling I kind of just started into the abyss for a little. 

After a deep breath, a told her that I feel like a Russian nesting doll. There’s my protector which is on the outside and is the biggest, protecting everything on the inside. I personally have multiple protectors but they are all on the outside. Then there’s my self which is next in line, not on the outside but not on the inside either. Then last but not least there’s the inner child which is the smallest doll at the inside of the dolls.At times it can feel like my inner child or self are trying to escape and be seen and heard by my protectors. But the protectors have been around for so and are on the outside which means it’s a lot easier to hear everything going on on the outside as opposed to the inside. 

This was a big revelation for me, and it might be a revelation for you as well. You don’t have to go to therapy to try and use these tactics. This thought process can help, doing inner work and particularly inner child work can change everything. 

If you are interested in trauma therapy and how trauma can affect your mind and body I highly recommend reading “The Body Keeps The Score“. This book is what originally pushed me over the edge to go to therapy. I was scared of it for a long time but these epiphanies and small moments of validation are life-changing. 

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