Exiled Parts Created by Trauma and Stressors

An Exploration in the Context of Internal Family Systems


Exiled parts within the Internal Family System (IFS) are the sub-personalities or parts that have been pushed aside, marginalized, or disowned because of the trauma or painful emotions they hold. These parts carry the weight of past experiences, and they are typically hidden away to protect the individual from the pain associated with those experiences.

Exiled Parts Defined

Exiled parts are often formed in response to trauma or significant stressors in life. They contain the pain, fear, shame, or other overwhelming emotions that the system cannot manage or tolerate. These parts are often isolated from the rest of the internal system, and they carry the burden of these unresolved issues.

Traumas and Stressors That Form Exiled Parts

Traumas and stressors that might lead to the formation of exiled parts include:

  • Physical Abuse: Physical violence or injury can create a lasting emotional wound that becomes an exiled part.
  • Sexual Abuse: This can lead to feelings of shame or guilt that may become exiled.
  • Emotional Abuse or Neglect: Chronic emotional mistreatment can lead to exiled parts holding feelings of unworthiness or rejection.
  • Loss and Grief: The death of a loved one, divorce, or other significant losses can cause parts to be exiled.
  • Chronic Illness or Disability: Long-term health issues can create feelings of helplessness or frustration that become exiled parts.
  • Societal or Cultural Trauma: This may include discrimination, war, or systemic oppression that leads to exiling of parts.

Blending with Self and Protection by Other Parts

In the IFS model, the Self is considered the core or essence of an individual, compassionate and confident. When an experience or event causes so much pain and discomfort that the Self is not equipped to manage, the pain is too overwhelming, and so other parts develop to stop the pain from happening again, and it suppresses that pain, and any memory of the experience, thereby creating an exile.

Exiled parts often escape to come into our seat of consciousness and they can become blended with the Self, meaning that they influence or overtake the person’s thoughts, feelings, or behaviors without their awareness. When blended, it becomes difficult for the person to operate from the Self, and instead, they function from the perspective of the exiled part.

Other parts, known as managers and firefighters, act to protect the Self from the pain held by the exiled parts. Managers attempt to keep control and prevent the pain from surfacing, while firefighters act impulsively to extinguish emotional pain when it does arise. Both act to keep the exiled parts suppressed and isolated.

Working with Exiled Parts in IFS Therapy

Working with exiled parts within the IFS therapy approach involves several key steps:

  • Building Awareness and Connection: Identifying and acknowledging the exiled parts, understanding their role and function within the system.
  • Creating a Safe Space: Building trust and safety within the therapeutic relationship to allow these parts to emerge.
  • Unburdening: Supporting the client in releasing the burdens held by the exiled parts, enabling healing and integration.
  • Fostering Self-Leadership: Encouraging the Self to lead and integrate the system, promoting harmony among all parts.


Exiled parts in the IFS framework represent the hidden wounds created by trauma and stressors in life. Understanding and working with these parts require compassion, patience, and specialized therapeutic interventions. Through a safe, careful, supportive, and nurturing approach, IFS therapy helps individuals unburden these exiled parts, allowing for healing, integration into the whole system, and a more cohesive sense of self. By approaching the topic through a compassionate and understanding lens, this reflection aligns with the practice of strengthening your conscious self, which can lead to a harmonious and balanced life.


Schwartz, R. C. (2001). *Introduction to the Internal Family Systems Model.* Trailheads Publications.

Gómez, A. (2013). *EMDR Therapy and Adjunct Approaches with Children: Complex Trauma, Attachment, and Dissociation.* Springer Publishing Company.

Siegel, D. J. (2012). *The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are.* Guilford Press.