Internal Family Systems

The Internal Family Systems Model (IFS), first developed by Richard C. Schwartz, is an integrative approach to individual psychotherapy that combines systems thinking with the view that mind is made up of separate subpersonalities, each with its own viewpoint and qualities. The focus of IFS therapy is to get to know each of these subpersonalities and understand how they work as a whole in order to better achieve healing. IFS can be used to treat individuals, couples, and families and it has been shown to be effective for treating a variety issues, including depression, anxiety, and panic. Think this approach might be right for you? Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s Internal Family Systems specialists today.

Need help finding the right therapist?
Find Your Match

Meet the specialists


Sometimes it feels like we have many conflicting parts of our internal world. This can lead to feeling a lot of confusion and self doubt. Using Internal Family Systems, I can help you untangle what may feel like a jumbled mess in your mind so that you can get to know your true Self and all the “parts” of yourself, especially the protective parts of you that can sometimes get in the way of your goals.

— Taylor Kravitz, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Portland, OR

What I like about IFS is that it's very intuitive. As we go through life, difficult experiences can lead us to create defense mechanisms that we put in place to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable. Although those protective parts are necessary and helpful to our survival, sometimes they can go on overdrive and overtake our entire being. IFS can ease those protective parts so that we can feel more connected to our pre-traumatized selves and learn to once again, live a full & balance life

— Sayuri (Julie) Heinl, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Arlington, VA

Level 1 & 2 Trained with IFS Institute, pursuing full certification

— Erika Barrington, Licensed Professional Counselor

Ever heard (or said), "One part of me wants this, while the other part wants that"? Well, those parts are real! We are wonderfully complex creatures, made up of countless identities and sub-identities that don't always agree. Helping the "family system" that lives inside us to get along better means less suffering and more joy.

— Jesse Cardin, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in San Antonio, TX

Internal Family Systems Therapy posits that your mind is multiple by design - that you have different aspects of your personality that arise at different moments and that you have various parts that help you move through the world. These parts often hold emotional pain, negative beliefs about yourself or the world, and the key to understanding your behavior. When we connect and build trusting, compassionate relationships with parts, you feel deeper clarity and more control in your life.

— Summer Forlenza, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in , CA

I am an Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapist with training through the IFS institute. We all have parts of us that feel angry, hurt, sad, critical, scared, etc. These parts sometimes cause us to react rather than respond to life. Developing a relationship with these different aspects of ourselves can help to balance our lives to increase the self energy used to navigate life.

— Evonne Jenkins, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Charlotte, NC

I have used IFS to treat a wide variety of mental health conditions and psychological wounds. I've applied it in relationship and individual counseling.

— Jules Allison, Professional Counselor Associate in Portland, OR

Aligning the parts of ourselves with loving, compassion, and acceptance of self.

— Denae Arnold, Licensed Professional Counselor in Wheatridge, CO

I practice IFS and Ego State Therapy, both systems that address the parts or facets of the personality that interact to shape our behavior. In these treatments, you get to better know and understand these parts of the self, and how and why they exist to protect you. You'll work to get all of you "on the same team" which can greatly reduce the conflict and distress you experience, particularly if you dissociate a great deal.

— Allison Gilson, Clinical Psychologist in Ann Arbor, MI

IFS is an evidence-based type of therapy that believes the mind is naturally multiple and that is a good thing. Our parts are the unique parts of our personality. This system also believes that each of us has a core self that knows how to heal, knows what we need, and is compassionate, loving, confident, and creative. In IFS, these parts of our personality take on the role of protector when bad things happen. Healing involves reconnecting parts with our core self allowing our parts to relax.

— Tara Beardsley, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor in Asheville, NC

IFS views the mind as being made up of many different minds or sub personalities, called “parts”. Many of my clients will learn to better understand their emotions and the parts that make up themselves; the inner-critic, the inadequate part, the people pleaser, the perfectionist, the inner child. When we gain an understanding of our parts we can begin to recognize “who” is showing up at any particular moment and making our life’s decisions. We begin to offer our vulnerable parts attention and ca

— Lia Schaefer, Therapist in Seattle, WA

Internal Family Systems is a framework for speaking to the range of your complex experiences that exist in your life. In session we will use parts language to begin to get to know 'the family' that exists in your internal world. In my experience, letting the different parts of your experience speak leads to greater acceptance of past events and present circumstance, increased sense of efficacy in work and relationships, and greater joy in one's experience of one's own life.

— Andrew Fontana, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate in Seattle, WA

This approach is a creative deep dive into the often conflicting internal dialogues we all hold inside. Ever felt one particular way but also pulled in another direction? Ever wanted to work on building healthy connection to a person but anger and resentment seem to be driving the interactions? This approach engages directly the tensions that pull us apart and cultivates a deep centeredness in what we call "self" energy - the wise healing intelligence already within you.

— Leigh Shaw, Associate Clinical Social Worker in Tacoma, WA

Most of my work with individuals and couples is centered around IFS in both my private practice and through my work with marital conflict at The Relationship Institute.

— Leticia Berg, Psychotherapist in Ann Arbor, MI

Internal family systems, or IFS, is a transformative type of therapy that believes we are all made up of several parts or sub-personalities, some of which are wounded. These wounded parts can carry painful emotions such as anger and shame. The goal of IFS therapy is to restore balance and harmony within the internal system by healing the wounded parts and learn to manage inner conflict in healthier ways.

— Carmen F Juneidi, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Chicago, IL

Internal Family Systems, or parts work, helps us to gain awareness into the different parts of ourselves and what functions they serve. IFS also helps us to see how our internal parts are communicating with each other, such as when we are having an inner conflict, or a defense mechanism comes up to protect us from pain. As a "Fun IFS Fact", the Pixar movie "Inside Out", although more simplistic, has been deemed to have some parts work credibility from the found of IFS himself.

— Angela Shankman, Therapist in Agoura Hills, CA

I have received formal training from the IFS institute of Canada (IFSCA) to provide an excellent parts-work approach to inner healing that really works. I encourage you to learn more about this psycho-spiritual, somatic model by visiting the IFS website:

— Margaret King, Licensed Professional Counselor in Portland, OR