Internal Family Systems Model Approach to Individual Therapy

Michael Elkin, MA, who will speak on July 26th, uses Dr. Richard Schwartz’s Internal Family Systems Model to approach individual therapy.

Internal Family Systems

The Internal Family Systems Model (IFS) is a way of applying the systems therapy for families and organizations to the internal world of the individual.  Other theorists have described the internal world of the individual as consisting of sub-personalities, of schemata, or of internal objects.  For the past 20 years Dr. Richard Schwartz, PhD has worked to synthesize IFS into a comprehensive approach that includes guidelines for working with individuals, couples, and families.

Dr. Schwartz began conceiving of the mind as an inner family and using family therapy techniques, like tracking sequences of interaction, with the inner parts or roles of the individual. He has learned that an individual’s inner roles and relationships are not static and can be changed if one intervenes carefully and respectfully.

The IFS Model views a person as containing an ecology of relatively discrete minds, each of which has valuable qualities and each of which is designed to — and wants to — play a valuable role within. These parts are forced out of their valuable roles, however, by life experiences, like trauma or family of origin interaction patterns, which can reorganize the system in unhealthy ways.

What is novel to IFS is the attempt to understand all levels of human organization — intrapsychic, family, and culture — with the same systemic principles, and to intervene at each level with the same ecological techniques.

To learn more about the Internal Family Systems Model visit http://www.selfleadership.org/ MK

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