IFS Informed Therapy

Internal Family Systems (IFS), developed by Dr. Richard Schwartz, is a non-pathologizing, philosophical framework and therapeutic approach that acknowledges that multiplicity is a natural part of the human experience and that all people have an inner healing resource (Self) that they can access. Specifically, all people are composed of different parts that create an internal family system and just like an external family system, these parts develop relationships with one another that have a significant impact upon overall wellbeing. Might sound odd until you call to mind how often when faced with a crossroads or a decision in life one part of you felt one way and another felt quite different. IFS seeks to support clients in developing a deeper understanding of their own internal system so they more effectively navigate their internal and external worlds with more compassion, curiosity, courage, calmness, clarity, creativity, confidence, and connection (8 C’s of Self).

How does IFS Informed Therapy work?

“All parts are welcome” is a well known IFS mantra which means that the goal is not to reduce or eliminate anything but rather to explore with curiosity, to listen, and to heal parts that are carrying burdens or protecting wounds.

During initial sessions the therapist provides some background information on IFS and works with the client on noticing the presence of different parts of their system. Next, the therapist helps the client learn more about their own internal system of parts through mapping and other exercises. Getting to know parts better often helps them to soften a bit which allows more space for healing Self energy. Over time, the therapist and/or the client are able to hold compassionate space for their parts and understand the job that they are doing for the system. All parts, despite how destructive their behaviors may be, have a positive intent for the system. Getting to know them and connecting them to Self energy facilitates healing so that in time things shift and become more harmonious inwardly and outwardly. In between sessions clients are encouraged to check in with their parts regularly and to give them opportunities to express themselves through journaling, play, creative arts, or whatever way they like to communicate.

Who Can Benefit from IFS Informed Therapy?

Anyone who is interested in developing a deeper relationship with themself and others can benefit from IF Informed Therapy. IFS is listed in the National Registry for Evidence-based Programs and Practices as effective for improving general functioning and well-being. In addition, it has been rated promising for improving phobia, panic, and generalized anxiety disorders and symptoms; physical health conditions and symptoms; personal resilience/self-concept; and depression and depressive symptoms.


If I have parts does that mean I have multiple personalities?

No, it means that you are human. We all have parts. Under the IFS lens, people who are diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder have parts that are more distinct from one another than people without this diagnosis.

How do parts communicate?

Parts communicate in a variety of ways including thoughts, feelings, movements, body sensations, images, narratives/memories, and more. Each person’s system is different and often different parts have different ways of expressing themselves.

This sounds really weird. How do you know it is real?

All IFS-informed therapists at our practice have done their own extensive parts work (in addition to training). There’s no way a therapist can effectively support your inner journey unless they’re on their own. An IFS informed therapist here won’t ask you to do anything unless they are regularly doing it or have done it as well.