IFS Therapy for Gay Men in Canada

Takeaway: Internal Family Systems (IFS) is an evidence-based counselling method for transforming your relationship with yourself

“There are parts of me that I feel ashamed of, and there are even parts I hope no one ever discovers.”

You feel exhausted after trying your hardest to control the different parts of yourself, all while hoping no one finds out about this inner struggle.

I can get so worried about what other people think, and don’t want other people to be upset with me.

Certain people can make me feel really scared, and I can’t seem to think my way out of the overwhelm. 

There are days where I’ll replay moments in my mind constantly and just feel exhausted without any solution.  

I feel on edge about trying to do things better all the time. It makes me feel physically tense.

Sometimes when I’m feeling really low, deep down I feel like I’m just a bad person.

Your journey as a gay man is a rich and complex story, filled with many challenges that have shaped who you are today.

Perhaps you’ve faced rejection or judgment from loved ones or your community for being gay. Even if these relationships are repaired on the surface now, these traumatic experiences might still cause pain, like old wounds that haven’t fully healed.

Your childhood could’ve felt like a battleground where your uniqueness was met with emotional or physical abuse. And after all these years, these moments can still feel fresh when something reminds you of the past.

Facing these past traumas, you might sometimes question your worth, wondering if there’s something wrong with you that caused these experiences.

Coming out is a courageous act, but the time spent hiding yourself can cast a long shadow. Even now, you might feel like parts of you are still hidden away in the closet.

As you reflect on your past, you might even be noticing those familiar feelings of shame, fear, or anger starting to rise.

These feelings are all normal responses to the hardships you’ve faced. There’s nothing inherently wrong with you for experiencing these emotions. In fact, they’re a testament to the reality of your resilience and your humanity.

And this reality comes with another empowering truth: you don’t have to navigate this journey alone.

Meet Jordan Gruenhage, IFS Therapist in Canada

ifs therapy for gay men

Jordan Gruenhage

(he/him) • MA, CCC, RCC

🖥️ Exclusively online

🗓️ Accepting new clients

Jordan is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and Canadian Certified Counselor who has dedicated over 10 years to research and specialized training focused on the unique challenges and experiences of gay men. He brings a sense of warmth, safety, and playfulness to his work with clients as they explore their mental health concerns.

Jordan excels at helping gay men understand their feelings better, heal trauma, and grow their sense of self-worth. He uses IFS as his primary therapeutic approach and has completed IFS institute-approved training with the creator of IFS, Dick Schwartz. He’s also learned about the nuances of using IFS with 2SLGBTQIA+ folks from expert LGBTQ therapists Derek Scott and Frank Anderson. In addition, he’s completed comprehensive coursework on IFS and complex trauma with senior IFS trainer Mike Elkin.

Jordan specializes in offering support with complex trauma related to shame, self-worth, family of origin, identity, sexuality, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

FAQs about IFS therapy for gay men

Who is IFS good for?

The internal family systems model is an ideal approach for gay men who want to get better at befriending themselves. Because we live in a society where most 2SLGBTQIA+ folks have experienced stigma related to their sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expression, it’s often difficult to find an internal sense of calm and connectedness with yourself.

One of the reasons the IFS model is so effective is because it helps to increase access to what IFS calls “Self-energy.” You can think of Self-energy as the ability to bring more self-compassion, curiosity, confidence, and calmness to your inner world and to others. In addition, IFS is a systems approach, which means it’s sensitive to the ongoing and lasting impacts of colonialism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and all other systems of oppression and discrimination. For these reasons, many clients find that IFS is an excellent way to connect with their own gender and sexual diversity in a way that’s sensitive to the wide-ranging systems they’re a part of.

What is the difference between IFS and EMDR?

The primary differences between IFS and EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy) are the methods for processing trauma, the scope of issues they can treat, and the flexibility of each model to support your specific mental health needs.

EMDR is a straightforward approach which pairs guided eye movements to traumatic memories in order to decrease distress associated with the memories. However, using EMDR as a standalone approach can often feel too intense and rigid for those who live with complex PTSD (CPTSD).

IFS uses a more talk-based approach. Your therapist typically guides you through a process that feels like a guided meditation focused on the feelings, thoughts, memories, and parts of you that you want to heal. IFS is an extremely flexible and adaptable approach, so the style, pacing, and intensity can be adapted to your unique mental health challenges.

What are the drawbacks of IFS?

Some people may find the standard IFS approach in which they’re guided by a therapist to feel too confusing, challenging, or intense. In particular, folks who live with complex trauma may find IFS feels destabilizing at first if their therapist isn’t knowledgeable about how to work with complex trauma. Fortunately, the flexibility of the IFS model means that it’s easy for a skilled therapist to adjust the standard IFS approach so that it feels grounding, safe, and beneficial to your specific therapeutic needs.

Now imagine waking up one day to find that your relationship with yourself has totally transformed.

Your past is still a piece of your story, but it no longer carries the same pain. You begin to notice some wonderful changes:

Your triggers, those certain people or situations that used to unsettle you, lose their power. You handle conflict with courage and confidence.

Challenges are met with gentleness and compassion towards yourself. You’re understanding and patient with your own process.

You’re able to sleep peacefully, waking up with a sense of clarity and calm. You feel a strong connection with yourself each morning.

Those intense feelings of shame, fear, and anxiety don’t spike the way they used to. Instead, you’re able to savour the enjoyment in your everyday activities.

You even start to tap into a sense of curiosity and creativity that had been overshadowed for too long. You rediscover playful parts of you that bring joy and lightness into your life.

ifs therapy for gay men

The best part? This isn’t just a dream.

These are the sorts of transformations we’ve witnessed repeatedly in gay men who’ve embraced the IFS approach.

Through IFS, you can foster a deeper, more compassionate relationship with all parts of yourself, leading to profound healing and personal growth.

Curious about taking the first step?

Start your journey towards self-understanding, acceptance, and transformation today by scheduling a free consultation using the button below.