Parts are categorised as exiles and protectors. Exiles are young parts that have experienced trauma and hurt and carry overwhelming feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and sensations called burdens.
Protectors banish these young parts out of awareness to protect the system from unbearable emotional pain. Protectors embody either the role of managers or firefighters.
Managers are proactive and help the client to function in daily life through roles such as working hard, pleasing people, perfectionism, and inner criticism.
Firefighters are reactive and focus on immediately suppressing any emotional pain of exiles through extreme strategies such as addictions, rage, self-harm, or suicide.
The goal of IFS therapy is to heal and integrate protective and exiled parts to enable Self-leadership of the internal system.
Rather than eliminating parts, IFS seeks to relieve them of their extreme roles so that their original talents and strengths can unfold in the system.