Internal chatterWe have feelings that talk to us all day long. You know the internal chatter… sometimes we have a grip on it and sometimes, when the chatter is loud and opinionated, it can get away from us.

So what do we do?

Often times, we quiet these feelings, treat them as untrustworthy or unnecessary, and dismiss them.

The animated Pixar film, “Inside Out,” would encourage you otherwise.

Before we lose you at animated film, many psychologists and counselors would agree too. One of whom is Marguerite Turner MS LPC, our Family Services Assistant Program Director. Turner has been counseling clients at Catholic Charities for 15 years.

Internal Family Systems

She utilizes the Internal Family System (IFS) in her treatment, a model that embraces these feelings as both needed and different parts of our self. The IFS model of psychotherapy offers a compassionate, non-labeling, and empowering method of understanding human problems, as well as healing problems that still hurt us.

Turner uses IFS to help clients see their strengths and to make sense of their inner world. She said it also helps clients calm any fears that they are bad, wrong or worthless.

In fact, Turner is so well-versed in using IFS, she was recently asked to provide trainings to two groups of therapists on the subject. She incorporated “Inside Out” into her presentations.

“Inside Out”

Turner says that “Inside Out” is a remarkable depiction of IFS and the way it is described by Dr. Richard Schwartz, the psychotherapist who developed the approach in the early 1990s.

The 2016 Oscar winner for best animated film tells the story of Riley, an 11-year-old girl who has just moved with her family from Minnesota to San Francisco. Most of the movie’s activity takes place in Riley’s brain where five of her emotions — Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Fear — struggle to help her cope with these changes.

Each of these emotions is personified by an animated character and has a necessary role which they carry out in Riley’s neurological command center, her brain. Most of the time they work together. However, the movie tells a tale of one of the times these feelings don’t work together.


Watch the trailer of “Inside Out” here.

Many people enjoy the movie because they can relate to a time when their feelings were at odds and were overwhelming. It’s simply a time when the chatter is too loud and too opinionated…

Just like Riley, we have parts of ourselves whose job it is to react to life and protect us from harm.

The nice things to know is our parts are good and only want what’s best for us. They often have very different ways of going about helping us. But sometimes things don’t turn out so well. “Inside Out” illustrates all of these scenarios in a way that kids and adults can relate. It’s a great way to broaden the talk of feelings in our homes and culture.

Our Core Self

In addition to our protector parts, we have a core self.

We all have ‘core’ memories that stay with us long after an event is over. And then other memories disappear no matter how hard we try to remember them. Some of our dreams wake us up and some don’t. Movie viewers come away with a greater understanding of how our brains work.

Our core self is healthy, balanced, and is the best one to lead us through life. Many people consider core self to be our soul, the person God has made us to be.

And just as in the movie, when our parts work together rather than fight each other for control, we are more likely to be healthy and happy. When Joy realizes that Riley needs Sadness so she can let her parents know she needs their help, the two emotions work together and stop fighting each other. Then Riley has the chance to feel better and adapt to her new life.

So the next time the voices are clamoring inside your head, try to let them work together instead of dismissing them. Claim the value in each one of these feelings and see what positive role they can play. Letting go of extreme reactions helps us live more effectively and emotionally healthy. It helps us live as the man or woman that God has called us to be!


For more information on our Family Services Counseling, contact our Director of Clinical Services, Dr. Michael Horne, at or call our intake line at 703-224-1630 to make an appointment. Our Catholic-based counseling is charged on a sliding scale to allow our services to help those most in need. To enable us to continue to see suffering families, please go to our donation page to make a gift today.