Becoming an IFS Coach: Training, Techniques, and Triumphs

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on September 17, 2023
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Welcome to the world of Internal Family Systems (IFS) coaching!

As mental health takes center stage, the role of an IFS coach becomes more significant than ever. They help individuals navigate their emotions and achieve emotional well-being.

Here’s what you need to know about IFS coaching:

  • IFS coaches are trained professionals who use the IFS model to help clients understand their complex systems.
  • They make a profound difference by guiding clients in exploring their inner selves and healing their emotional wounds.
  • The demand for IFS coaches is rising as more people recognize the importance of mental health and become more familiar with the notion of “parts”.
  • Becoming an IFS coach requires rigorous training and certification, showcasing dedication to fostering well-being.

Join us to learn more about IFS coaching and how you can contribute to this transformative field. Let’s dive in together!

What an IFS Coach Does and the Principles Underlying IFS Coaching

An Internal Family Systems (IFS) coach is a trained professional who uses the IFS model to help individuals understand their complex internal systems and navigate their emotions.

The IFS model, developed by Richard C. Schwartz in the 1980s, is an integrative approach to individual psychotherapy that has been increasingly applied to coaching.

The core principle of IFS coaching lies in its basic assumption: We all have various parts within us that hold different roles and emotions. An IFS coach helps clients identify these parts and understand their functions.

This process involves mapping out what’s happening inside us and recognizing which parts have dominated.

Here’s a simplified explanation of what an IFS coach does:

  1. Assessment: The coach assesses the fears and values of the ‘manager parts’ within a client. These parts often control our behavior to avoid pain or harm.
  2. Accessing the Self: Using specific techniques, the coach helps clients access the Self, characterized by calm, clarity, curiosity, and compassion.
  3. Guidance: The coach guides clients in directing their inner players, promoting healing and personal growth.

By harnessing our resilience, IFS coaching empowers individuals to deal with life’s challenges more effectively.

Understanding these principles can provide valuable insight into this transformative field, whether seeking personal growth or considering a career as an IFS coach.

My Journey with Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy

A few years ago, I was at a crossroads professionally and personally. As an eating disorder coach, I have always connected with my clients, empathized with their struggles, and guided them toward healthier relationships with food and their bodies. But despite all my training and experience, I felt like something was missing.

That’s when I stumbled upon Internal Family Systems (IFS). I was initially intrigued by the idea of understanding all levels of human organization — intrapsychic, family, and culture — with the same systemic principles. It felt like a fresh perspective that could enhance my professional practice and personal growth.

I appreciated that we all have different “parts” or sub-personalities that influence our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. This concept was especially relevant in eating disorders, where conflicting inner parts often vie for attention.

Applying IFS principles to my coaching practice was transformative. I started helping my clients identify and understand their internal family systems. This approach allowed them to address their concerns and achieve healing by learning how their sub-personalities interacted and influenced their relationship with food.

Personally, the journey was equally rewarding. I began to explore my internal family system, understanding how my different parts interacted and influenced my behaviors and emotions. This exploration brought a sense of calm and compassion to my life, enabling me to manage my stress better and improve my relationships.

Please note I am not a certified IFS therapist, but value this practice!

What I Wish I Had Known About IFS Beforehand

Looking back, there are a few things I wish I had known about IFS before embarking on this journey:

  1. It’s a process: Understanding and working with your internal family system does not happen overnight. It requires patience, introspection, and time.
  2. It can be emotional: Uncovering and interacting with different parts of yourself can bring strong emotions. It’s essential to have support during this process.
  3. It’s not just for therapists: While IFS is a therapeutic model, its principles can benefit various areas of life, including personal development, conflict resolution, and leadership.
  4. It’s about balance: The goal of IFS is not to eliminate or suppress any part but rather to achieve harmony among all parts.
  5. Continued learning is key: Many resources are available for learning about IFS, from books and articles to podcasts and videos. Get continuing education credits and learn IFS via PESI.

In conclusion, learning IFS principles has been a journey of self-discovery and growth, both professionally and personally. It has equipped me with a new lens to understand and navigate the complexities of human behavior, enhancing my coaching practice and enriching my life.

How to Become an IFS Coach

Dr. Richard Schwartz and the Institute for Coaching

Becoming an Internal Family Systems (IFS) coach is a rewarding journey that requires commitment, training, and practice.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to embark on this path:

1. Understand the Basics of IFS: Before diving into training, familiarize yourself with the principles and techniques of IFS. This knowledge will provide a basis for your professional development.

2. Enroll in IFS Training Programs: The IFS Institute offers three progressive levels of professional training—from beginner (Level 1) to advanced (Level 3). These comprehensive programs equip you with both IFS theory and technique.

3. Practice Under Supervision: IFS training allows you to practice with immediate guidance and supervision. Witnessing live demonstrations gives you a ‘felt sense’ for parts work—an essential component of IFS coaching.

4. Complete Required Hours: Complete at least 200 direct IFS work over two years. This hands-on experience is a crucial part of becoming a competent IFS coach.

5. Obtain a Clinical Consultant Recommendation: An approved IFS-I Clinical Consultant must sign off on your practice hours and attest to your skills.

6. Apply for Certification: Once you’ve met all requirements, you can apply for IFS certification. This globally recognized credential validates your expertise as an IFS coach.

Remember, the journey to becoming an IFS coach is not just about professional growth but also personal transformation. As you guide others toward healing and self-understanding, you, too, will learn and grow. Please refer to IFS Coaching FAQ – A Thousand Paths for more info.

A Balanced Perspective: The Advantages and Challenges of Being an IFS Coach

Being an Internal Family Systems (IFS) coach can be challenging yet rewarding. It involves helping clients navigate their internal world, bringing about personal growth and mental wellness.

Let’s explore the advantages and challenges that come with this role.


  1. Personal Growth: As an IFS coach, you embark on a journey of self-discovery, which can catalyze your personal growth.
  2. Empowering Others: You guide clients to establish themselves as their inner leader, fostering harmony.
  3. Diverse Applications: IFS has evidence-based effectiveness in treating various issues, making it a versatile tool in your coaching repertoire.


  1. Complexity of the Model: Understanding and applying the IFS model requires intensive training and practice.
  2. Emotional Intensity: Dealing with clients’ emotional complexities can be challenging and may require you to manage your emotional responses.
  3. Maintaining Objectivity: Balancing empathy with professional distance can be tricky, as you need to provide support without becoming overly involved.

Becoming an IFS coach is not just about mastering techniques—it’s about embracing a journey of personal and professional transformation. The path might be challenging, but the rewards for you and your clients are significant.

the Benefits of Becoming an IFS Coach

Becoming an Internal Family Systems (IFS) coach is an enriching journey of personal growth and professional development. It not only benefits the coach but also creates a profound impact on their clients’ lives.

Here are some key points to consider:

  • Understand your internal parts to facilitate personal growth and self-leadership.
  • The journey involves extensive training, practice, and self-exploration.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of oneself and others.
  • Help clients become their inner leaders and bring harmony within.
  • Access the state of Self, characterized by calm, clarity, curiosity, and compassion.
  • Clients gain better control over their reactions and behaviors.
  • Promising results include executive coaching, legal mediation, and conflict resolution.
  • Help clients achieve their goals faster and improve mental wellness.
  • Potential benefits include reduced psychological distress and improved self-concept.
  • Create a ripple effect of positive change, one client at a time.

Becoming an IFS coach offers a unique opportunity for personal growth and creating positive change in the lives of others.

Addressing Common Questions About Becoming an IFS Coach and Practicing IFS Coaching

Internal Family Systems (IFS) coaching is increasingly gaining recognition for its transformative potential in the field of mental health.

If you’re considering this career path, you may have some questions. Let’s address a few common ones.

1. Should I be a credentialed therapist to offer services as an IFS coach?

You don’t need to be a credentialed therapist to become an IFS coach. However, training and certification in IFS are crucial to ensure you can effectively help your clients. Coaching and therapy have many similarities, but they are different.

2. How do I benefit from becoming an IFS coach?

Becoming an IFS coach offers personal and professional benefits. It can lead to personal growth, a deeper understanding of oneself and others, and the satisfaction of helping clients navigate their internal systems.

3. Can I practice IFS on myself?

While it’s possible to use IFS techniques for self-help, professional guidance is recommended, especially when dealing with traumatic or complex issues.

4. What training is necessary to become an IFS coach?

There are three levels of IFS training approved by the IFS Institute. Level 1 Training provides a comprehensive introduction to the theory and techniques of IFS.

5. Do I need to be licensed/certified for clinical practice to become an IFS therapist?

To become an IFS therapist, you must be licensed/certified for clinical practice. However, you don’t need these prerequisites to become a certified IFS practitioner or coach.

Becoming an IFS coach is a rewarding journey that requires dedication, patience, and a deep commitment to helping others. So, take your time, explore your options, and embark on this transformative path when ready.

IFS Training Conclusion

In conclusion, becoming an IFS coach involves discovery, growth, and profound impact. Through rigorous training, individuals learn to master the techniques that allow them to guide others toward better mental health.

This process equips them with professional skills and fosters personal development, making the path to becoming an IFS coach a transformative experience.

The benefits of becoming an IFS coach extend beyond the individual. As an IFS coach, you can make a significant difference in people’s lives, contributing to a healthier society.

So, as we reflect on the insights gained from this article, consider this: Could you be the next person to embark on this enriching path?

We value your input! Do you have a mental health application you’d like to see reviewed on our Online Mental Health Reviews platform? We’re all ears! If your organization is exploring a new mental health tool, don’t hesitate to reach out for a review request. If suitable, we’ll conduct an undercover evaluation of the service of interest and provide a detailed review. Your experience matters to us!

In Case of Emergency:

If you are in a dire situation, waiting for an online therapy session might be unsafe. If immediate assistance is needed, such as if you or someone else is in harm’s way, don’t hesitate to call 911. This includes situations with a risk of self-harm or injury to others.

If thoughts of self-harm are present, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is there for you. Simply dial 988 to connect with help that’s available around the clock.

Additionally, you can contact the National Helpline of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 800-662-HELP (4357). This line offers free and confidential assistance to individuals struggling with mental health or substance abuse. They provide treatment referrals and vital information, day and night, throughout the year.

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