Frank Anderson, MD and Richard Schwartz, Ph.D., instructors
Developed over the past three decades, the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model offers an empowering and nonpathologizing approach to treating trauma. It helps clients access an undamaged essence called Self from which they heal parts (subpersonalities) of them that continue to live in shock, pain, and shame. Many trauma therapies propose that the existence of subpersonalities is a sign of pathology—a consequence of the fragmentation of the psyche by traumatic experiences. In contrast, the IFS model sees all parts as innately valuable components of a healthy mind. Trauma does not create these parts, but instead forces many of them out of their naturally healthy states into protective and extreme roles and makes them lose trust in the leadership of the client's Self, which in IFS is an inner essence of calm, confidence, clarity, connectedness and creativity.
This essence does not need to be developed or cultivated and is not damaged by trauma. Most people, and particularly trauma clients, have little access to their Self in their daily lives because it is obscured by the protective parts that dominate them. When their parts trust that it is safe to allow their Self to manifest, clients will immediately display those strengths. The goal then becomes not to eliminate parts but instead to help them relax into the knowledge that they no longer have to be so protective. IFS assists them in realizing that they are no longer under the same level of threat and that there exists a natural inner leader who they can trust. In this way, IFS brings family systems thinking to this internal family, understanding distressed parts in their context, just as family therapists do with problem children, and restoring inner leadership in a way that parallels the creation of secure attachments between parents and children. Very often, trauma clients hold the belief that they have been so damaged that they will never heal and that their very essence is tarnished. When IFS clients experience that their trauma did not touch their essence and that they don't have to meditate for years to begin to experience liberation from suffering they feel empowered and released from shame. They also learn that their parts are not what they seem, and that by turning toward parts with compassionate curiosity rather than trying to get rid of them, they transform into valuable qualities. This presentation will provide an introduction to the basics of the IFS model and its use with attachment and trauma. An overview of IFS and its clinical applications along with relevant neuroscience findings will be presented and illustrated through lecture and video.
Upon completion of the program the student will be able to:
1. Understand the importance un-blending and not overwhelming the system when working with clients who have traumatic histories.
2. Understand a neuroscience-based explanation for hyper-aroused and hypo-aroused extreme protectors in the IFS Model of therapy.
3. Explain at least 2 ways the unburdening process can be blocked and be familiar with way to overcome these obstacles.
4. Explain how the IFS model works with the therapist’s reactions to being with traumatized clients, helping them stay clear and centered throughout the healing process.
Program Code: HST6
6 CE Credits MFT
Location: at William James College, (MSPP), Newton
Richard Schwartz, Ph.D., began his career as a systemic family therapist and an academic. He co-authored, with Michael Nichols, Family Therapy: Concepts and Methods, the most widely used family therapy text in the U.S. Dr. Schwartz was Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Institute for Juvenile Research and later at The Family Institute at Northwestern University. Grounded in systems thinking, Dr. Schwartz developed Internal Family Systems in response to clients’ descriptions of various parts within themselves. He focused on the relationships among these parts and noticed that there were systemic patterns to the way they were organized across clients. He also found that when the clients’ parts felt safe and were allowed to relax, the clients would experience spontaneously the qualities of confidence, openness, and compassion that Dr. Schwartz came to call the Self. He found that when in that state of Self, clients would know how to heal their parts. This approach to psychotherapy suggested alternative ways of understanding psychic functioning and healing, and lent itself to innovative techniques for relieving clients’ suffering and symptoms. IFS is a nonpathologizing, hopeful framework within which to practice psychotherapy. In 2000, Richard Schwartz founded the Center for Self Leadership in Oak Park, Illinois. IFS trainings and workshops are also being held in several European countries. A featured speaker for national professional organizations, Dr. Schwartz is a fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and serves on editorial boards of four professional journals. He has published five books and over fifty articles about IFS. His books include: You Are The One You’ve Been Waiting For: Bringing Courageous Love to Intimate Relationships; Internal Family Systems Therapy; Introduction to the Internal Family Systems Model; and The Mosaic Mind: Empowering the Tormented Selves of Child Abuse Survivors (with Regina Goulding); as well as Metaframeworks (with Doug Breunlin and Betty Karrer), about transcending current models of family therapy.
Frank Guastella Anderson, MD, completed his residency and was a Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He currently is the chairman of the Foundation for Self Leadership and has served on the Research Advisory Committee and the Speakers Bureau for the Center for Self Leadership. He has lectured extensively on the Neurobiology of PTSD and Dissociation and wrote the chapter “Who’s Taking What” Connecting Neuroscience, Psychopharmacology and Internal Family Systems for Trauma in Internal Family Systems Therapy-New Dimensions. He has maintained a long affiliation with the Trauma Center at Justice Resource Center in Boston and maintains a private practice in Concord, MA.