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

I have been using Internal Family Systems in the therapy room for as long as I have been in mental health. I understand IFS from both the client and counselor perspective. I continue to educate myself on the most useful and appropriate ways to use IFS in session.

— Laura Wood, Counselor in Seattle, WA
 

There are so many facets to who you are, and layers to your experience - and they all deserve loving kindness. By getting to know and understand the parts which make up your whole self, we work to release old hurts and create new patterns. Whether as an individual or in relationships, it is important to learn "from where am I speaking?" and unburden those parts of you that are stuck in painful places so that you can move forward into becoming your most authentic self.

— Katrina Knizek, Counselor in Spokane, WA

I fell in love with the practice of IFS as soon as I learned about it in graduate school. I align with the strengths-based belief that we all have a courageous, compassionate, creative core, known as the Self, that is able to be accessed with curious exploration into our internal world of parts. Through IFS, the Self can serve as our guide to creating the life we desire. I have received trainings over the last 8 years by some of the leading IFS innovators and utilize it in work with clients.

— Melanie Taylor, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Philadelphia, PA

I have completed Level I of Internal Family Systems training through the IFS Institute and practice this work regularly. I find that IFS incorporates the best insights of psychodynamic therapy in a pragmatic, accessible, and transformative relationship between the self and our conflicting parts. It is a different way of doing therapy than most are used to doing, in that the relationship between client and therapist becomes secondary to your relationship with your own "parts" of self.

— Anthony Rella, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in SEATTLE, WA

I am currently in the process of obtaining additional training in IFS, and use many of the principals of Janina Fisher's book, Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors in my current work.

— Nancy Gardner, Therapist in Chicago, IL
 

We've all got internal roles that help us navigate our needs, defenses, and systems. All inner parts of us have a valuable role, but the way this is expressed might be maladaptive. Your need to control, push, or avoid is the solution to resolving something deeper.

— Kayla Lajoie, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Ann Arbor, MI

IFS is an evidenced-based approach to therapy that is grounded in the belief that we all have multiple parts within ourselves that can create internal conflict, pain, and confusion. These parts may be strong, confident, and secure or afraid, angry, sad, and insecure. IFS therapy focuses on healing the wounded parts of ourselves that cause us pain in order to restore a sense of internal peace and emotional balance.

— Emily Franchi, Psychotherapist in Chicago, IL
 

What looks like controlling, judgmental, perfectionistic tendencies is actually a way of managing fear. Addiction, avoidance, and panic are other ways we try to run from fear. They are a well developed defense mechanism learned early on to keep you feeling safe. Recognizing that these parts (or Internal Family Systems - IFS) are all trying to protect you and keep you from feeling your feelings is the first step. You don't have to be afraid of your feelings. IFS work will teach you how .

— Cynthia Goeller, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in ,

IFS is my main treatment orientation. It is the most effective and rewarding healing tool I have found. IFS helps you experience healing, self-love, and inner harmony. IFS is helpful if you feel torn, disconnected, at war with yourself, or are experiencing uncomfortable thoughts, emotions, or behaviors you can’t understand. It may include working with the inner child, the inner critic, and all the parts of you which make you unique. It is experiential, imaginative, and fun!

— Emma Donovan, Counselor in St. Louis, MO
 

I was fortunate to have a professor in graduate school trained by Richard Schwartz and who worked primarily with IFS. In my practice, I use IFS to help clients differentiate themselves from their strong feelings, thoughts, and sometimes physical sensations. Next we work to use the client's core self or intuition to heal the painful feelings and to redirect their most destructive impulses. I believe that all of our habits and thoughts are essentially trying to help us but often need a little help

— Whitney Roberts, Marriage & Family Therapist in Parker, CO

One of the main roadmaps I use is called Internal Family Systems. I believe people are made up of ‘parts’ and that every part is important to know and welcome into the room. Everything you do has a purpose and a good intention (even if the impact is harmful) and makes sense within the context of your life.

— Arianna Smith, Licensed Professional Counselor in Littleton, CO
 

IFS is an incredible approach that helps us to look at our painful emotions and honor them so that we are able to truly let them go. Our positive, negative feelings and thoughts are all a variety of parts that reside within us. Why not look at all of our different hurt feelings and allow them to express themselves and finally be released.

— Nina Kelly, Marriage & Family Therapist in Santa Cruz, CA

IFS, or "parts work," is a great way for clients to uncover what their symptoms are trying to do for them and heal old wounds. I integrate IFS with Acceptance Commitment Therapy and Movement Therapy, so my approach is customized for each client.

— Megan "Megz" Roberts Roberts, Therapist in Chicago, IL
 

I'm a Level 3 Certified Internal Family Systems Therapist and find IFS as organic, intuitive and effective. We are a multiplicity of parts and in getting to know them, we develop internal coherence and comfort. After all, as people, we all want to be seen, heard, understood and acknowledged. What holds for others, also holds for our internal parts. Working with your parts allows you to honor "the holes within the whole" of your being and thus honor all that you are.

— Benita Silver, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Asheville, NC

I frequently use the non-pathologizing "all parts are welcome" techniques in my sessions. While not yet officially trained in IFS, i have self studied the concepts extensively and love the non judgmental approach this method offers.

— kaseja wilder, Counselor in Eugene, OR

I'm a Level 3 Certified Internal Family Systems Therapist and find IFS as organic, intuitive and effective. We are a multiplicity of parts and in getting to know them, we develop internal coherence and comfort. After all, as people, we all want to be seen, heard, understood and acknowledged. What holds for others, also holds for our internal parts. Working with your parts allows you to honor "the holes within the whole" of your being and thus honor all that you are.

— Benita Silver, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Asheville, NC
 

IFS is an approach that uses a systems type of model that understands our minds via different parts. Understanding our experiences through this model can help us speak to and understand our parts, communicate with and honor our parts and then integrate our parts to create a more harmonious inner world.

— Jesse Kahn, Sex Therapist in new york, NY

I have been trained in and practicing IFS since 1994. I have completed levels 1, 2 and 3, and been a program assistant for several level 1 trainings. I attend as many of the conferences as I can and participate in the online circle as well to continue to enhance my skill and profiency. This approach is what informs all the other approaches and techniques I utilize.

— Tina Ottman-Boykin, Counselor in Plymouth, WI
 

It is best practice to see the individual with respect to the various systems, or identities, of which they may belong.

— Christopher Freeman, Licensed Professional Counselor in Atlanta, GA

This theoretic approach is intertwined into the underpinnings of my foundational education and are a main part of my working with clients. My supervision mentors worked directly with Mr. Richard Schwartz in his years developing this theory. Further trainings were in person with Dick Schwartz where I participated in level one and two.

— Amy Belval, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Columbia, CT