Internal Family Systems

The Internal Family Systems (IFS) model is a powerful and organic approach to heal emotional wounds and to gain mastery over life’s challenges. Developed over the past three decades by Dr. Richard Schwartz, IFS combines our understanding of the inner life of the psyche with our knowledge about interpersonal relationships. It creates lasting transformation and provides life-long tools to lead a more peaceful, powerful, and passionate life.

The IFS model is based on the belief that our natural language of parts (i.e. “part of me wants to go, and part of me wants to stay”) quite accurately reflects the various parts/sub-personalities we all have. We observe protective parts (active or reactive), vulnerable parts, and a wise healing core.

You will discover that even parts that take on the most destructive roles and behaviors, such as addictive, suicidal or aggressive behavior, all have good reasons for what they do. It is their learned way of trying to protect you from pain and danger.

However, often these parts are stuck in the past, when certain situations were just too painful, confusing and/or overwhelming, and when you did not have the appropriate resources to help yourself more effectively.

As soon as you fully understand the validity of these parts and their methods for survival, safety and comfort, they then start to learn that you can now protect yourself more effectively as an adult, and they can become less extreme. Right away you become calmer, clearer and more confident and with some practice will be able to deal with present difficulties more effectively.

During the healing process, we will be very careful not to overwhelm you by rushing to vulnerable feelings/parts too quickly. It is the fear of overwhelm that could even keep you away from therapy and healing altogether. As we respect your fears fully and understand them, we will know how to comfort and strengthen you to proceed in a safe way.

Over time you will become less reactive and more confident in leading from what we might call Wise Self (or Divine Self), something we can all connect with, no matter how abused and neglected we may have been. This Self can consider other parts’ feelings and beliefs about any given situation, but will lead actions with confidence, compassion, and caring towards the best common good for the internal family of parts—you. While the therapist might take on the role of the Self for moments during therapy, she will help you to connect with your own Self, which will be instrumental in unburdening old beliefs and painful feelings. The transformation is complete when new (or previously displaced) qualities are integrated and used in every day life.

For more information about IFS, please go to

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. —Albert Einstein


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