Internal Family Systems Training Resources for Clinicians and Clients

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on September 17, 2023
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Hello there! We understand that the world of mental health can sometimes feel like an intricate labyrinth, especially when exploring different therapy modalities.

One such important modality is the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model.

IFS is a transformative, evidence-based model of psychotherapy. It believes that the mind is naturally multiple, which is good. Our “parts” or sub-personalities contain valuable qualities, and our core Self knows how to heal, allowing us to become integrated and whole. In IFS, healing happens when parts are unburdened and balanced in their roles.

As a clinician or client, you might have many questions about IFS – how it works, its benefits, how to apply it, and where to find reliable training resources. That’s why we’ve created this empathetic and informative guide.

Whether you’re a clinician seeking to expand your therapeutic toolbox or a client looking to understand and manage your mental health, this blog will help you navigate the IFS landscape with confidence and clarity.

So, let’s embark on this journey of self-discovery and healing together!

Detailed Explanation of the Core Concepts of IFS

Dr. Richard Schwartz explains Internal Family Systems (IFS)

Understanding the core concepts of Internal Family Systems (IFS) can be a transformative experience. Like a family unit, our minds consist of numerous parts that interact and influence each other.

So, let’s delve into these intriguing aspects.

1. Self: At the heart of IFS is the concept of the ‘Self’. This isn’t a part but your core or essence. It’s described as the confident, compassionate, curious, and connected part of you that can lead the other parts.

2. Parts: The ‘parts’ are sub-personalities within us. They carry burdens from traumatic experiences and protect us from pain. These parts are categorized into three types:

  • Exiles: These are young, vulnerable parts often burdened by pain or trauma. They’re exiled or suppressed by other factors to protect us from feeling their pain.
  • Managers: These parts maintain control and prevent exiles from emerging. They’re responsible for our proactive protective behaviors.
  • Firefighters are reactive protectors, dousing emotional pain when exiles break through. They may trigger impulsive actions or behaviors.

3. Healing and Harmony: IFS aims to heal the parts carrying burdens and restore balance. By showing compassion and understanding towards all aspects, we can unburden them and allow the Self to lead.

How to Identify if IFS is the Right Approach for You or Your Client

The Internal Family Systems (IFS) model is an innovative and empowering therapeutic approach. Still, it’s crucial to understand whether it’s the right fit for you or your client.

Here are some steps to help guide this decision.

  1. Understand the Core Concepts: Before deciding, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the core concepts of IFS. This method views the mind as composed of different parts, each with its perspective and characteristics.
  2. Identify Your Needs: IFS has reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, and trauma-related disorders. IFS might be suitable if these areas concern you or your client.
  3. Consider the Time Commitment: IFS therapy can be time-consuming. It’s essential to consider whether you or your client have the time and commitment necessary for this type of therapy.
  4. Assess Emotional Readiness: IFS can provoke strong emotional reactions, especially at the beginning of therapy. Assessing whether you or your client are emotionally ready for this journey is crucial.
  5. Find a Suitable Therapist: Not all therapists specialize in IFS, and finding a qualified practitioner can sometimes be challenging. Ensure you or your client can find a therapist you feel comfortable with.
  6. Consider the Cost: Like any specialized form of therapy, IFS can be expensive. It’s essential to consider whether this investment is feasible for you or your client.

Reflecting – The Core IFS Technique

Reflection in Internal Family Systems (IFS) training regarding understanding and healing is critical. It’s like looking into a mirror that shows us our inner world. Are you curious why it’s important?

Here are a few reasons:

  • Recognizing Parts: Reflection helps us identify and understand different parts within us, like meeting new members of our internal family.
  • Understanding Roles: Each part has a specific role in our psyche. Through reflection, we gain insight into why a part behaves the way it does.
  • Building Empathy: Reflecting on our parts’ experiences fosters empathy, helping them heal from pain or trauma.
  • Enhancing Self-Leadership: As we reflect more, our compassionate core, the Self, guides our parts toward healing.
  • Facilitating Growth: Reflection allows us to learn and grow from our experiences, promoting transformation.

Remember, reflecting on our inner world is a gradual process. You’re not alone on this journey of self-discovery and healing. Each step and reflection brings you closer to understanding and embracing your true, authentic Self.

Internal Family Systems Training Resources for Clinicians

Internal Family Systems (IFS) training is a transformative approach to psychotherapy that helps individuals explore their inner world with compassion and understanding. People can achieve harmony and personal growth by recognizing the different parts of their minds.

Here are some reputable sources for IFS training:

  1. IFS Institute: IFS Institute offers progressive levels of activity in Internal Family Systems, from beginner to advanced levels. It is the official training provider for this modality and follows an evidence-based curriculum. Access here
  2. Mentally Fit Pro: This platform guides how to get IFS training. It also highlights the official training from the IFS Institute and emphasizes its evidence-based curriculum. Access here
  3. Laura Schmidt LMFT: Laura Schmidt, a licensed marriage and family therapist, has compiled a list of resources related to IFS on her website. This includes overviews of IFS, research, workshops, retreats, training, therapist support, and more. Access here
  4. PESI: PESI offers digital seminars, online courses, DVDs, live webinars, and books related to Internal Family Systems Therapy. They have an extensive catalog to explore and provide opportunities to earn continuing education credits. Access here
  5. IFS Certification: This platform provides information on demonstrating competence in IFS through a DVD or live session review. Access here
  6. Foundation for Self Leadership: This Foundation marks a decade of advancing emotional, relational, and societal healing. They offer resources and training related to IFS. Access here

You can also delve deeper into IFS with resources like the Internal Family Systems Skills Training Manual, which offers a trauma-informed approach for anxiety, depression, PTSD, and substance abuse.

IFS training is an evidence-based, robust personal growth and healing tool that empowers individuals to navigate challenges with resilience and empathy.

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How to Take Your IFS Training to the Next Level

Progressing your Internal Family Systems (IFS) training can be transformative. As you delve deeper into this therapeutic model, each level offers new insights and skills.

So, how can you take your IFS training to the next level?

1. Understand the Levels: IFS training has progressive levels, from beginning (Level 1) through advanced (Level 3). Familiarize yourself with the objectives and prerequisites of each group.

2. Online Training Options: Various online training options are available. These can provide flexibility and convenience, making fitting training into your schedule more manageable.

3. Seek Certification: Consider becoming an IFS-certified therapist. This requires a master’s degree in a human services field, but it could open up new career opportunities.

4. Continued Learning: Even after formal training, continued learning is essential. Digital seminars, webinars, books, and online courses can help keep your knowledge fresh.

5. Join a Community: Joining communities of IFS practitioners can provide support, shared experiences, and further learning opportunities.

Answering Common Questions about IFS and IFS Training

Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy is a transformative approach to self-awareness and healing. This therapeutic model has unique concepts and methods, sometimes leading to questions.

Let’s address some common queries about IFS and IFS training.

1. What is IFS? IFS is a type of therapy that sees the mind as composed of different parts, with a core Self that possesses inherent qualities of compassion and calm.

2. How does IFS work? IFS works by helping individuals access their Self, which can then empathetically interact with and heal their parts.

3. Is IFS similar to family therapy? While the name might suggest so, IFS does not necessarily involve families. Instead, it refers to the internal ‘family’ of parts within an individual.

4. Can I become an IFS coach without being a therapist? Yes! Many IFS coaches aren’t credentialed therapists but have undergone appropriate IFS training.

5. What does IFS training involve? IFS training typically consists of understanding the principles of IFS, learning to apply them in therapeutic settings, and reflecting on one’s parts.


Mastering Internal Family Systems Training is a transformative journey that deepens your understanding of your internal world, fostering harmony and resilience in all your relationships. This includes family relationships and the relationships between your ‘parts’!

Embrace every part of yourself, acknowledge their roles, and foster a harmonious internal dialogue. Remember, the power to change resides within you. Keep exploring, learning, and growing on this incredible path of self-understanding.

We value your input! Do you have a mental health software you’d like to see reviewed on our Online Mental Health Reviews platform? We’re all ears!

Please share your experiences with us. If your organization is exploring a new mental health tool, don’t hesitate to reach out for a review request. If suitable, our team will conduct a thorough ‘secret shop’ of the service you’re interested in and provide a detailed review.

In a Crisis Situation:

If you are in an urgent crisis, waiting for an appointment with an online therapist might be unsafe. If immediate help is required, please dial 911. This applies if you are experiencing thoughts of harming yourself or others. For thoughts centered around self-harm, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24/7 when you dial 988. 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, confidential assistance around the clock, every day of the year, guiding individuals with mental health or substance abuse issues towards appropriate treatment and providing necessary information.

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