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

Many of my therapeutic interventions are derived from Internal Family Systems (IFS). Also known as "parts work," IFS suggests that individuals are made up of various "parts," and we are not one unitary identity as we often view ourselves to be. An individual's various parts (which can also be thought of as thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and body sensations) have different wants, needs, and emotions, and can often conflict with each other. Please see my website for more info about IFS.

— Arielle Fettman, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Intern in Portland, OR
 

Have a background working at a residential/outpatient treatment facility based in IFS, and continue to refer to the model. Thinking of true self and parts of the psyche has been helpful to most of my clients to move past many of their problematic behaviors/thought patterns and to get to how we can heal their attachment wound.

— Kelley Goodwin, Licensed Professional Counselor in Atlanta, GA

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'm a Level 3 Certified Internal Family Systems Therapist and I find IFS is organic 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 known, seen, heard, understood and acknowledged. What holds for others, also holds for our internal parts. Working with your parts is honoring of "the holes within the whole" of your being and honors all that you are.

— Benita Silver, Licensed Professional Counselor in Asheville, NC

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
 

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

"Parts Work" involves accessing positive aspects of the self that were wounded at different times in our lives. Early wounding, in particular, necessitated those parts to go into hiding in the unconscious for survival. For protection, those parts may appear to us now as negative aspects, e.g., as the critic, the undeserving one, the shamed one, so we won't want to look at them. Through dialogue, we can find out how these part have served us, what they need, and how we can help them heal.

— Renee Beck, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in ,
 

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

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 Professional 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

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 ,
 

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
 

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

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
 

In IFS, we take a look at the different parts of you - even the parts that can be challenging, like parts that feel worried or depressed or angry. The goal is not actually to get rid of these parts. Instead, we seek to understand the parts: how they are trying to help, what they are afraid of, and what they are communicating. Much like a relationship with a person, you develop a relationship with your parts, which allows them to naturally and easily quiet down or take on new roles.

— Paul Abodeely, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Seattle, WA

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'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 Professional Counselor in Asheville, NC

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