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

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

I am level one IFS trained. I complete at least one IFS training per year to continue my growth in this area. IFS is an evidenced base treatment approach to improve quality of life.

— Ruth Siborg, Licensed Professional Counselor in Colchester, CT

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 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

IFS is my primary modality for individual counseling because it is both highly effective and relatively easy for most people to work with, across a range of issues. It can help bring clarity to all the myriad parts of a complex human being dealing with complex life issues. I find that IFS also supports differentiation of self, which is key to personal freedom and relationship success.

— Kelly Arthur, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Intern in Portland, OR

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

All humans all different parts or voices or aspects; we are complex creatures. IFS creates space for us to explore, understand, and have compassion for all parts of you, while figuring out how all these parts can work together in greater harmony, led by your inner voice of wisdom. It is a non-judgemental path to great self compassion and understanding.

— Elizabeth Pettit, Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

Internal Family Systems is by far my favorite approach to therapy. By getting to know your inner parts and how they function as a system influencing your behavior and emotions, you can gain harmony and mastery of your self! I have attended training with the creator of IFS, Richard Schwartz, and have been using IFS with clients for over two years. Together, we will use a variety of expressive modalities, narrative therapy, and mindfulness to get to the root of your inner protectors and exiles.

— Safrianna DeGroat, Counselor in Hagerstown, MD

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

Internal Family Systems is built on the understanding that there are many parts that makeup who we are. Though all these parts developed at a certain time to help us deal with stress, some of them have reactions that aren't helping us anymore. In IFS we work to develop an understanding of how the parts of you interact, gradually developing a great sense of Self and ability to take self-leadership of your internal world.

— Elliot Huemann, Counselor in Seattle, WA

Because of my expertise in family work, I am an advocate for internal family systems work, through the lens of Richard Schwartz. I have taken multiple trainings in IFS done by Richard Schwartz, read extensive texts, and I am working toward certification.

— Rowen Beaudoin-Colegrove, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in West Boylston, MA

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