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Internal Family Systems: Theory and Applications

Online Course Materials:    ArticlesArticles    AudiosVideos   ArticlesArticles   

All materials are available as audios with transcripts.

Co-developed by Glenn Marks, Ph.D. and Garry Cooper, LCSW

General Course Description

Internal Family Systems (IFS), developed by psychologist Richard Schwartz, is a non-pathologizing, creatively dynamic psychotherapy utilized in a variety of applications. Arising from Schwartz’s early training as a family therapist, it refers to the internal family we each have within us–our various parts. Drawing upon many of the major influences of therapy–psychodynamic, Gestalt, family systems, mindfulness, client-centered, and humanistic–IFS engages the client and therapist in helping clients tune into their various parts, cultivating a healthy curiosity toward their parts, and developing a Self that nurtures and listens to each part.

This introductory level course consists of 3 articles (with audio versions) and a recorded audio interview with Dr. Schwartz (with transcript provided). Part one provides an overview of the theoretical and historical basis for IFS along with its usage in treatment. A review of research with a variety of populations is provided along with a discussion of the strengths and need for further studies. Part two includes an interview with Dr. Richard Schwarz, along with two of his early writings in which he lays the foundation for the IFS approach.

Educational Objectives:

    This course will teach the participant to:

  • Define and identify the role of the various parts of a client’s personality.
  • Define the concept of Self and its role in mediating among the parts of a client’s personality.
  • Identify how legacy burdens contribute to racism.
  • Explain the role of mindfulness in IFS and how it differs from how mindfulness’s role is conceptualized in other psychotherapies.
  • Discuss how IFS conceptualizes psychopathology.


  • The Origins of Internal Family Systems
  • Understanding parts and their roles
    • Exiles
    • Protectors
      • Managers
      • Firefighters
    • Self
      • Self Leadership
  • Burdens
    • Legacy Burdens
  • The Therapeutic Technique
    • The role of the therapist
  • The role of mindfulness and meditation
    • Cultivating a relaxed, non-judgmental attitude toward one’s parts
    • Going beyond mindfulness/meditation to active dialog with one’s parts
  • Using IFS as a Clinical Intervention
    • Health and well being
    • College women with depression
    • Attachment issues
    • Eating Disorders
    • Veterans with PTSD
    • Internalized Racism
    • Increasing self-awareness of therapists
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Cost: $29.00


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