Internal Family Systems

The Internal Family Systems Model (IFS), first developed by Richard C. Schwartz, is an integrative approach to individual psychotherapy that combines systems thinking with the view that mind is made up of separate subpersonalities, each with its own viewpoint and qualities. The focus of IFS therapy is to get to know each of these subpersonalities and understand how they work as a whole in order to better achieve healing. IFS can be used to treat individuals, couples, and families and it has been shown to be effective for treating a variety issues, including depression, anxiety, and panic. Think this approach might be right for you? Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s Internal Family Systems specialists today.

Meet the specialists

Sometimes it feels like we have many conflicting parts of our internal world. This can lead to feeling a lot of confusion and self doubt. Using Internal Family Systems, I can help you untangle what may feel like a jumbled mess in your mind so that you can get to know your true Self and all the “parts” of yourself, especially the protective parts of you that can sometimes get in the way of your goals.

— Taylor Kravitz, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Intern in Portland, OR

Most of my work with individuals and couples is centered around IFS in both my private practice and through my work with marital conflict at The Relationship Institute.

— Leticia Berg, Psychotherapist in Ann Arbor, MI

I have been using the concept of "parts" and "inner voices" since before beginning my clinical practice, based on the work of Hal and Sidra Stone. The additional structure and training in IFS has helped me refine and strengthen this helpful tool. I've attended workshops and trainings, as well as online classes and readings to deepen my understanding and use of IFS.

— Kirsti Reeve, Licensed Professional Counselor in Royal Oak, MI

IFS was developed by Richard Schwartz PhD in the early 1990s and has since been listed in the National Registry for Evidence-Based Programs and Practices. In the model’s name, Internal Family Systems, lies the belief that we all have a psychological system made up of a constellation of parts (or family members) that are in need of reconciliation. We approach the following topics from an IFS framework: Chronic Stress, trauma, anxiety, depression, anger issues, self-esteem, grief.

— IFS Telehealth Collective, Therapist in New York, NY

Transform your life with this powerful, evidenced-based model to embody more of your core Self. There are multiple parts of you (i.e., sub-personalities) which may have emotional and relational injuries. There may also be other multiple protector parts of you (i.e., managers & firefighters) who try to control and defend you from the wounded parts. IFS will help you unburden your parts that need attention to intention and client-centered care to welcome & heal all of the parts of your Self.

— Matthew Braman, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

What I like about IFS is that it's very intuitive. As we go through life, difficult experiences can lead us to create defense mechanisms that we put in place to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable. Although those protective parts are necessary and helpful to our survival, sometimes they can go on overdrive and overtake our entire being. IFS can ease those protective parts so that we can feel more connected to our pre-traumatized selves and learn to once again, live a full & balance life

— Sayuri (Julie) Heinl, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Arlington, VA

Sometimes we repeat patterns or behaviors that we don't like, that don't seem to make sense. Whether it's emotional eating, perfectionism or overwork, the struggle feels intractable. We may feel conflicted, like part of us wants to do one thing or be a certain way, while another part of us wants to go the opposite direction. IFS offers a framework for understanding these inner conflicts, and support a return to harmony within that honors the wisdom of your True Self.

— Kim Torrence, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Rockville, MD

I have used IFS to treat a wide variety of mental health conditions and psychological wounds. I've applied it in relationship and individual counseling.

— Jules Allison, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Portland, OR

There is a wise core “Self” to each person, along with other “parts” which intend to be helpful but can take on unhealthy roles or “burdens”. These burdens can manifest in a myriad of ways. Parts associated with trauma and shame are often pushed down or “exiled” out of awareness. When they emerge, other parts work to suppress them. This blocks access to core Self, where they can be healed. Helping all your parts get access to core Self is a big part of the work we can do.

— Melissa Hartley, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Portland, OR

Sometimes part of you wants to do something, and part of you doesn't. It can feel like a battle in your head! You may feel frozen or indecisive. Additionally, it can lead to feeling like part of you "takes over" and leaves you feeling ashamed or upset that you didn't handle something the way you wanted to. We can get a better idea of what all parts of yourself want, and get them communicating kindly, so you feel integrated in your choices, and like you're acting in your own best interests.

— Colleen Hennessy, Licensed Professional Counselor in , CA

I am trained in Ego State and I use IFS (parts work) to treat most individuals. This is a powerful concept that most of my clients identify with.

— Anna Schäfer Edwards, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Cooper City, FL

I have studied the classic Internal Family Systems Model as taught by Dr. Richard C. Schwartz. I hold to the belief that humans have various parts that are activated depending on the situation. If we address these parts with compassion, our true self surfaces and we live in congruence and with self love and honor. I have practiced this model with clients, and have experienced it is my own healing journey over the last decade, and see the power in this orientation.

— Marc Heuser, Counselor in Golden, CO

I'm very grateful that Dr. Richard Schwartz came along and hugely upgraded the "inner child work" that many of us had been doing for decades. IFS tools allow us to work with immediacy to address what's happening and provide relief.

— Christine Bates, Licensed Professional Counselor in Oxford, MS

Internal Family Systems focuses on learning to listen to the different parts of our psyche. Often these different parts of ourselves are in conflict with one another due to wounds from past experiences. This can lead to any number of symptoms - anxiety, depression, deep-seated trauma, feelings of an internal battle within ourselves, etc. When using IFS, we discover that these parts of ourselves contain insight on how to heal when we learn to listen to them.

— Jack Rubin, Counselor

If you have ever said "there's a part of me that feels..." then you are already on track to work with me. You have a whole world of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors bundled into your 'parts'. These parts are their own entities within us, that you can build a relationship with and get to know. Together we can explore how they got their jobs, what their goals are, and working to help continue doing their best to help us.

— Timothy Kelly, Counselor in Auroa, CO

Exploring and understanding the different parts of us, and how each part can benefit the whole self can be a powerful and unique experience.

— Rachel Wethers, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

This may not be family therapy but family systems (upbringing) & attachment theory often apply.

— Robert Preston, Associate Professional Counselor in Phoenix, AZ