Internal Family Systems℠ (IFS) is a cutting-edge, powerfully healing psychological model developed by Dr. Richard Schwartz. Although its roots are in the world of psychotherapy, IFS is relevant to a wide circle of applications and can be a profound tool to “turbocharge” life coaching.
“IFS is more than a therapeutic technique. It is a conceptual framework and practice for developing love for ourselves and each other.”
—Dr. Richard Schwartz
Internal Family Systems recognizes that our psyches are comprised of different aspects (also called parts or subpersonalities). Each aspect has its own perspective, feelings, memories, motivations, and goals. For example, one part of you might feel drawn to do public speaking, while another part might be terrified of the prospect. We all have a range of parts that may include a pusher, a pleaser, a rebel, an abandoned child, an inner critic, and a devoted caretaker.
Internal Family Systems also recognizes that each of us has a Self—a spiritual center that is compassionate, resilient, and grounded. IFS supports people in developing Self-leadership, wherein the Self, rather than one or more parts, is in the leadership role in a person’s “inner system.” Clients, whether in a coaching or therapy context, learn how to regain Self-leadership if a part takes over.
Parts can become extreme because of trauma as well as general family dynamics. Yet at their core, parts always have positive intent, which can be discovered by giving them good attention and developing a relationship with them. As parts receive support, they release their need to express in extreme ways, reverting to their preferred roles as positive, contributing aspects of our personality. As this happens, we become more balanced, and our inner system works more cooperatively and synergistically.
What does Internal Family Systems have to do with coaching?
People generally come to life coaching and wellness coaching with specific goals they want to attain. They may hope it’ll be a straight shot to achieving those goals, but it’s rarely that simple. Many types of coaching subscribe to the notion that obstacles are sabotaging parts that must be outsmarted, overridden, or completely ignored. The IFS Model suggests that these obstacles carry wisdom and positive intent—and that developing a relationship with them is the most fruitful way to work toward goals and achieve lasting success.
You’ll be amazed and empowered by this holistic approach to coaching.
See the Resources page for more information about Internal Family Systems.
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