Internal Family Systems (IFS): A Non-Coercive, Integrative Therapy Model for Individual and Couples Work
Online Course Materials: Articles Audios Articles
Developed by Garry Cooper, LCSW
General Course Description
Internal Family Systems (IFS), developed by psychologist Richard Schwartz, is a non-pathologizing, creatively dynamic psychotherapy suitable for virtually any disorder. Although its name suggests that IFS is a family therapy, it’s more often practiced with individuals and couples. 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. The process can be thought of as the therapist coming on board a ship that’s wobbling off course, with the crew on the verge of mutiny or other chaos, and helping the Captain (the client’s Self) learn how to deal with each crew member by helping the Captain enlist the active, genuine support of each crew member.
This introductory level course consists of an audio interview with Schwartz (transcript provided) and four articles. Part One provides an overview of the theoretical and historical basis for IFS and treatment principles. Part Two shows IFS in action with individuals and couples and disorders which include anorexia, suicidal thoughts, borderline personality disorder, and sexual intimacy issues. Additional resources and references are provided for further study, but they are not part of the course.
- 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.
- 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.
- Definition of Internal Family Systems
- The function of parts from a non-pathologizing perspective
- Cultivating a relationship between parts and self
- Understanding the parts of a personality
- The origins of parts
- Attachment issues
- Normal consequence of development
- 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
- IFS with specific disorders and populations
- Suitable for almost every disorder and issue
- Sexual intimacy difficulties
- Eating disorders
- Borderline personality disorder
- Dissociative identity disorder