IFS Introduction

Getting Started

Introduction to IFS: Lucas Forstmeyer

IFS Techniques: Lucas Forstmeyer

IFS Series: Dr. Tori Olds

IFS Videos featuring Dr. Richard Schwartz

Other Videos on IFS

The Lighter Side


Built on a supportive foundation of self-exploration and internal harmony, this course aims to offer guidance, tools, and practical techniques to promote a deeper understanding of one’s inner world. It represents a pathway to self-discovery, emotional regulation, and conscious empowerment.

Richard Schwartz describes it in this way:

“We were all raised in what I’ll call the mono-mind belief system—the idea that you have one mind, out of which different thoughts and emotions and impulses and urges emanate. That’s the paradigm I believed in, too, until I kept encountering clients who taught me otherwise. Because the mono-mind view is so ubiquitous and assumed in our culture, we never really question the truth of it. I want to help you take a look—a second look—at who you really are. I’m going to invite you to try on this different paradigm of multiplicity that IFS espouses and consider the possibility that you and everybody else is a multiple personality. And that is a good thing.”Schwartz, Richard, Ph.D.. No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model (p. 6). Sounds True. Kindle Edition. 

This master class is a step-by-step program of self-improvement modules designed to nurture self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and resilience. Through a combination of psychoeducational lessons, instructional content, experiential activities, interactive exercises, and guided self-reflection, participants will explore the richness of their internal landscapes and learn to harmonize different aspects of themselves. This approach can be used to help you access your conscious Self so that you can heal wounded parts of your Psyche and bring your mind and body into balance. IFS is an evidence-based practice used to treat a range of mental health disorders including anxietydepression, PTSD, substance abuse, and eating disorders. IFS can be helpful in finding, developing, and maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships.

A core concept of IFS is the existence of the conscious Self. The Self is the innate presence within each person that is the pure essence of who they are. It is inherently good and whole, and cannot be broken or corrupted. When a person is Self-led, their system is balanced and all the aspects of who they are – “parts” – are integrated and acting in harmony with one another. Sometimes the Self and other parts become blended and sometimes parts become polarized, obscuring the Self. When this happens, the first step is to differentiate the Self from the blended and polarized parts.

When you are in Self, you should feel one or more of the qualities listed below. In Self, you can effectively communicate with your parts. Accessing Self is the first step in beginning to heal your system. You will have a chance to learn about the 8 C’s and 5 P’s in much more detail based on the principles of Character Strengths and Virtues in Positive Psychology, and the Virtues Project international.

Being in Self is marked by the 8 C’s and 5 P’s of self-energy:

  • Curiosity
  • Calm
  • Clarity
  • Connectedness
  • Confidence
  • Courage
  • Creativity
  • Compassion
  • Playfulness
  • Presence
  • Persistence
  • Patience
  • Perspective. 

Another core concept of IFS is the existence of parts, distinct and separate aspects of our personality. Sometimes referred to as subpersonalities or families, each part has their own memories, beliefs, schemas, expectations, perceptions, thoughts, sensations, emotions, and behaviors. They can each interpret your world and the people in it differently. They may be a different age or gender than you. All parts act from a place of positive intention. There are no bad parts, only maladaptive roles and behaviors. When a part feels threatened and doesn’t trust the Self, they act out to try to protect the system. Because parts are often stuck in time or polarized with one another, the behaviors they elicit are extreme or out of sync with reality. When parts trust the Self, and feel understood and appreciated, they take on positive roles and the whole system acts in harmony.

“All of us are born with many sub-minds that are constantly interacting inside of us. This is in general what we call thinking, because the parts are talking to each other and to you constantly about things you have to do or debating the best course of action, and so on. Remembering a time when you faced a dilemma, it’s likely you heard one part saying, “Go for it!” and another saying, “Don’t you dare!” Because we just consider that to be a matter of having conflicted thoughts, we don’t pay attention to the inner players behind the debate. IFS helps you not only start to pay attention to them, but also become the active internal leader that your system of parts needs.”Schwartz, Richard, Ph.D.. No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model (p. 7). Sounds True. Kindle Edition.

The initial goal of IFS therapy is to help you access your conscious Self and befriend your manager and firefighter protector parts. Then, in Self, you can access exiled parts and heal them through the unburdening process. The ultimate goal of IFS is to increase your access to Self, strengthening your conscious Self, so you can be more Self-led. 

“The mono-mind paradigm has caused us to fear our parts and view them as pathological. In our attempts to control what we consider to be disturbing thoughts and emotions, we just end up fighting, ignoring, disciplining, hiding, or feeling ashamed of those impulses that keep us from doing what we want to do in our lives. And then we shame ourselves for not being able to control them. In other words, we hate what gets in our way.”Schwartz, Richard, Ph.D.. No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model (p. 7). Sounds True. Kindle Edition.

This process may naturally allow you reach health and wellness goals you may have set for yourself, such as improving your resilience to stress, decreasing anxiety symptoms, alleviating depression symptoms, improving your relationship satisfaction, and recovering from traumatic stress.

Although it is not required, it would be helpful if you have started or completed the mindfulness course before beginning this course. Mindfulness would allow you to cultivate wise mind (a synthesis of emotions and logic), would allow you to observe, describe, and participate in your internal and external experiences and interactions without judgment, staying present in the moment, on purpose, with intention. It makes it easier to detect, access, and unblend your parts.

Reflection & Processing

  • [Reflection] Self Reflection Journaling Exercises – Concerns/Comments/Response/Goals
  • [Session] Review of Section (Therapy session processing of homework)

Content References

1. Introduction to Internal Family Systems Model (2001) Richard Schwartz

2. No Bad Parts (2022) Richard Schwartz

3. Self Therapy Jay Earley

4. Self Therapy Workbook Bonnie Weiss

5. Parts Work Tom Holmes

6. Virtues Project International

7. Character Strengths and Virtues Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman

8. Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook Marsha Linehan

9. IFS Course Videos Lucas Forstmeyer

10. The Others Within Us Robert Falconer