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

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
 

My knowledge of Internal Family Systems (IFS) was initially built through supervision and educational trainings and has evolved through my work with clients in my practice. I have been able to successfully integrate IFS with practices such as EMDR and Art Therapy to treat issues such as: PTSD, sexuality/gender-related stress, depression, anxiety, family & relationship stress, and substance abuse.

— Martha Cowley, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Carmichael, CA

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
 

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

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 Roswell, GA
 

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

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 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

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

Through my readings I began utilizing Internal Family Systems in my work with trauma clients. The theory speaks of externalizing symptoms, ways of thinking, patterns of behaving into particular modes or states. Central to each individual is the concept of Self-a wise, calm state of being that is able to think and see clearly. In assessing Self and these different modes, I help clients to see the context of each of their symptoms and to not be flooded by any particular emotion.

— Jeremy Cooper, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Richardson, TX
 

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

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
 

Completed IFS Level 1 training and additional trainings through the Center for Self Leadership.

— Erica Thompson, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Diego, CA

Please see www.krystinaptasinski.com for more details.

— Krystina Ptasinski, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Seattle, WA
 

For detailed information see the "services" at my website: www.summitwellnesscounseling.com.

— Aaron Porter, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Intern in Eugene, OR

What looks like controlling, judgemental, 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'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'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
 

Have you ever felt at odds with yourself, or with something that you felt driven or obligated to do? Internal Family Systems is a perspective that focuses on all of the aspects of a person, and helps ease the arguments that nearly all of us have going on inside ourselves.

— Eric Mills, Counselor in Federal Way, WA

My work draws primarily from the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model of counseling. It uses the relationship itself as a vehicle for growth and healing of the individual, as well as the couple or family. It’s a non-blaming approach that assumes that human beings are resilient and have inner resources of self-love and self-regulation to heal and grow.

— Stacey Curnow, Counselor in Asheville, NC
 

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

"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 ,
 

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

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