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Internal Family Systems Counsellor – Exclusive Interview With Kylie Feller

Before launching her own coaching and counselling business Kylie worked in the field of mental health and addiction for 10 years. She was always passionate about understanding human struggles and how to overcome and heal them. She has specialized in a form of therapy known as Internal Family Systems which guides people inside where they can develop an intimate relationship with themselves and the parts of them that have been struggling. She hopes to inspire people to realize we did not come here to just survive we came here to live and experience life to the fullest. She has personally taken this path of overcoming and healing childhood trauma which is often what sets people back in life. She knows it is possible to heal anything and to tap into our inner strength and compassion.

Kylie Feller, Counsellor and Life Coach


Who is Kylie?


I am a counsellor and coach, and I always knew I wanted to be in this profession. I really desired to understand people and how we become who we are. I grew up experiencing a lot of unfortunate events and experiences as my father died when I was young, and my mom struggled with her mental health. Growing up with parents who were unable to be present opened the door to me getting a lot of first-hand experiences of a number of challenges that children can face that impact them later in life. I wanted to understand how to heal the experiences I had been through so I could really live life in the present and feel safe and connected to others.


When you grow up with a lot of childhood trauma it can feel like that is your identity, it can be hard to get out from under it. I knew though there was a life outside of it and I fought hard to get there. At times it felt like I was going through the motions of life, but I knew even when I did that parts of me were really present and loving it. I always tried to treat myself with love and give myself a lot of experiences knowing that one day I would look back and know I had really given it my all.


I grew up in a small town where I did not feel like I really fit in. I was able to leave this small community when I was 15 on a rotary student exchange in Thailand. It was one of the first times I ever really felt like me. I got to connect with people who had similar values and interests, other exchange students who were also more academic and had a passion for life. This trip fed my desire for traveling and experience other cultures. Thailand is also a Buddhist culture, and this is where I began to understand meditation, mindfulness and non-attachment, a different way of living than in the West. I often return to Thailand in the winter and enjoy exploring other surrounding countries.


My travelling also was a key part of my healing journey. One trip that changed my life was my trip to Peru for a 10-day ayahuasca retreat. This experience really showed me my path and my Soul. I could see how my life experiences had prepared me for the journey I chose. I got to experience some magic and I believe it's important to appreciate and find the magic in life. I feel shamanism and spirituality are a key part of healing, we are spiritual beings. I integrated more spiritual practices into my own care and that for my clients. I am a level 3 reiki practitioner, yoga instructor/Nidra guide and Akashic Records coach. Internal family systems therapy also links the scientific with the spiritual which is a key ingredient to healing trauma and contacting our authentic self.


Everything that I teach my clients and share with them is things I have tried and used in my own life and for my own healing. I know not everything will resonate and work with everyone, but I believe as a counsellor it's important to personally know and experience what you teach. It blows my mind that counsellors are not required to get regular counselling and supervision themselves. We are all humans and counsellors have a position of power and if we do not do the work, we will project our traumas and triggers onto our clients.


I studied psychology for around 10 years until I really started to find approaches that could help people heal. I feel like there is a lot of great stuff out there, but it is, unfortunately, kind of hidden. It won't come up right away in a google search unless you know what you are looking for. Also, it's not taught in schools so many doctors, nurses, counsellors, and other mental health professionals are unaware of the approaches that can help people heal rather than just cope. This is why so many people feel defeated and like there is no hope, they go to the doctor and counsellors, and it does not help. Talk therapy is not made to heal. There is also a big difference between surviving and optimal health, our health care system does not teach about optimal health.


What Is It That You Do For Your Clients?


I create and hold a safe space for my clients to do their own inner work. One of the reasons I love IFS is that I just help the clients get into a relationship with their True Self and their parts, they do the work. I feel like we all have the ability to heal and in fact, our minds and bodies want to heal we just need the right environment. I help people get into that environment and teach them to get there on their own. It's really an unlearning and re-learning of how to be with ourselves in the world that opens the door to more intimacy with ourselves and thus others.


I believe we all can heal, anything, and IFS backs this idea. Since IFS can work with any part, anxious, depressed, bi-polar, traumatized, angry, people-pleasing, numbing, pretty much anything I can help anyone with pretty much anything. Since I experienced a lot of trauma in past I do gravitate towards helping people heal from trauma but I feel like most struggles we have in life are due to some level of trauma. Many clients do not even know they have trauma and that is the root of what is holding them back.


Key examples of traumas that people miss are being bullied in school or by family members, being told you were not smart or capable when younger, having parents that struggle with expressing or controlling their emotions, even when there is a lot of love in the house growing up if your parents could not emotionally attune to you, it will have left an attachment injury. Children who have parents who work a lot can also internalize this and feel there is something wrong with them for them not to be there when they need them. Children need their caregivers to survive so when their needs are not met, they internalize it believing there is something wrong with them. Some people never go back and heal these beliefs, leaving them feeling unworthy in adulthood which has a huge negative impact on their health and well-being.


People who struggle with parts such as an inner critic or procrastination part are often surprised to find younger parts of them that are stuck in situations where they are feeling shame, guilt, or pain. These feelings are keeping them stuck and tied to certain survival strategies that were opted when younger to stop them from being overwhelmed by these emotions. When you get curious with the parts of you that are keeping you stuck, they will let you know what is going on and what needs to be healed to let it go. When these parts feel understood and are often given an update that the client is no longer the age, they needed to pick up these protective roles they can unburden and release the pain and hurt that kept them stuck in time and join the client in the present. When a part is unburdened and feels you are really safe now, they can provide a lot of wisdom and support for you in your life. When you are younger, they sacrifice themselves to hold these intense emotions and develop survival roles to keep you safe, when you heal them they go back to their original roles which include a lot of gifts such as presence, playfulness, fun, love, connection, meaning, rest, purpose, creativity etc.


In a nutshell, I feel like I help people heal by connecting themselves back to themselves. I also offer a lot of support around creating a routine and the right self-care to help you feel your best each day. I find when we can get to the root of our struggles and heal them then everything else becomes so much easier. Then we can enjoy yoga, being in nature, our connection to our friends, travelling etc. When we are unhealed or parts of us are stuck in the past and in survival strategies it's hard to feel present and thus life feels like it's at a distance or we feel a lot of fear or anxiety when with others. When you heal and connect back to yourself your whole life opens up, the smallest things can bring you the most Joy. I really enjoy helping people find joy in life.


What’s Next? What is Your Vision and Future Plans?


My dream is to run more workshops and events teaching people about themselves and how they can fall more in love with themselves and life. I will also continue to see a small number of clients in my own private practice. I am planning on working on my Podcast, Your Best Chance, where I can offer more insights, tools and resources to people on their journey. We are all in a process of healing and becoming. I am hoping to also interview other people in different fields who can offer more insight tools and resources. Although I have dedicated my life to learning how to help others, I feel like I am just brushing the surface and have so much more to learn.


I am also working on writing a few books, one to help people navigate dating in a way that fosters great growth and self-love. I then really want to share my story and how I have healed my own trauma with a number of different approaches and experiences. I feel like a lot of people don’t think it's truly possible to heal or to even consider what that would look like and feel like. People can get so stuck in survival mode, and this has been normalized. I want to share in a relatable way how we can all really thrive in life. To feel comfortable living in the present and experiencing everything life has to offer without it even being overwhelming. A key part of happiness I believe is trusting oneself in life. I don’t think a lot of people trust or even really know themselves at a deep level, this makes it hard to feel like we are connected to others. How do we develop intimacy with others if we don't have it with ourselves? I hope to teach people more about how to do this.


What Are Some Internal Family Systems Approaches Clients Can Use Now?


It is easy to start incorporating Internal family systems into your own life. All you have to do is begin getting curious about yourself. We can get so focused on the external work and other people that we can forget to check in with ourselves and begin noticing what is happening in our inner world. When we react or are hurt by other or have an extreme reaction to something it is often a trailhead that we can take inside and heal that part of us that is getting hurt. It is less about other people or trying to change them and more about working within ourselves, then setting boundaries, communicating our needs, and creating an external healthy environment is a lot easier.


I also find people take their feelings and reactions as just part of them and they are but if they are causing one pain or suffering or disconnected it doesn’t have to be that way. When we are suffering or in pain, it is a sign a part of us is stuck and needs help. Every symptom we experience makes sense. For example, when we are down and feel depressed it often means there are too many overwhelming emotions so a part of us has numbed it all. When we feel anxious it often means a part has gotten too good at trying to protect us and things in the present are triggering past fears and threats. How would you approach different parts of you like your anxiety and depression if you knew they were trying to protect you and help you? What if every part of you was good but was stuck in an outdated survival role?


Try in this moment to think of a part of you that you would like to get to know better or maybe it’s one you feel is a barrier in your life. Choose one and then notice where it shows up in or around the body? Can you feel it inside of yourself? Maybe as you focus on it you might notice some emotions come up or thoughts, words, images. Just notice, there is nothing you need to do here but get curious. See if you can get some space in your heart to just understand it and just be there with it. See if the part can notice you being curious about it?


If so, here are some questions you can ask it:


What would it like you to know about it?

What is it afraid would happen to you if it did not do what it does?

What is its positive intention for you?

What is it trying to protect you from?

How old is it? or When did it get this role?

What does it need from you?


Write down what you find. You can also just find a part in your body or imagine it in your mind and then ask it these questions and just write what it wants to share with you. It can also help to draw parts and then write what comes up around it.


The main thing you want to do is just start by getting curious with yourself and seeing what is going on under the surface of your personality. To be guided in this there are guided Internal Family Systems exercises on Insight Time by myself and by Richard Schwartz. Also, his No Bad Parts is a great book to listen to to help you experience the approach with built-in guided experiences. You can also get an Internal Family Systems Counsellor, I suggest finding one of the Internal Family Systems Website as they will have had formal training in the model.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, and visit my website for more info!


 

Kylie Feller, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Kylie Feller, M.A., is a registered clinical counsellor and life coach. She specializes in helping people understand and heal trauma while connecting them to their own innate healing force, their True Self. She believes that there is nothing people cannot heal and that all individuals can thrive and flourish if given the right formula. She has also launched an online program to help individuals navigate dating in a way that promotes greater growth and healing called, Swipe Right into Loving Yourself. She is a trained Internal Family Systems therapist, Empowerment Coach, Akashic Record Coach, Reiki Healer, and Yoga Teacher. She works with individuals one-on-one online helping them to access inner transformation so they can truly succeed in all levels of life.

 

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