What is Internal Family Systems?

The Internal Family Systems model (IFS) was originated by Richard C. Schwartz, Ph.D. and integrates family systems theories with the idea that there is an internal system in us all made up of personality parts that hold beliefs and feelings of their own. Schwartz was trained as a family systems therapist and kept noticing that people talked about the internal "parts" of themselves that conflicted with each other. This model suggests that our minds consist of sub personalities (parts). This is considered a psychodynamic model. IFS works with individuals, couples, and families and the goal is to learn and understand the perceptions, fears, and wishes of each "part" with the ultimate aim of restoring parts access to the "Self". Self in this model seen as the spiritual center, that sense of knowing, the calm and compassionate leader. The therapist acts as a coach moving at the pace directed by the client. Initial work concentrates on identifying the parts and giving them voice, eventually the wounded parts feel safe enough to identify their wounds often resulting in great release for the client and a shift in trust toward the self.

In work with couples and families this model allows couples or family members to see how their parts interact and react to the other's parts and they can shift and begin to speak for their parts instead of from their parts, reducing tension and allowing more love and compassion into the relationship.

(see the resources page for more in-depth description of this model and Dr. Schwartz's website)


Happiness is not something you postpone for the future;

It is something you design for the present.


–Jim Rohn

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