Internal Family Systems Therapy


The Internal Family Systems model was developed by Dr. Richard Schwartz. He offers a comprehensive history and description of the system at the following website:

When Bessel van der Kolk played a video of an IFS therapy session with a young woman, it was clear to me that this model was similar to the model I have been using for many years, developed during my training at the Jamillon Trauma Centre. I tend to call it Inner Child work, probably because most of my work is with female survivors of childhood abuse. Sometimes, when my client is coming from a different background, but still needing to get in touch with the wounded or angry parts of self, I’ll refer to it as ‘Inner Selves’ work.



Here is a friendly website describing Inner Child work:

There are also many pictures in my Gallery that give image to the sense of an inner child or inner selves.

This concept of allowing the inner selves to come out and speak, and then of working with those parts to facilitate healing, is not new and is practised by many therapists, especially those trained in the more feeling, holistic and creative therapies. I was delighted to see that van der Kolk had embraced this way of working, but would have preferred to see him acknowledging its long history. I am also – or have become, with experience – cautious and rather uncomfortable with the tendency of some entrepreneur practitioners to market a system with a fancy name and package it with rigid terminology and protocols. I understand it’s a fine line, but I am just a bit cautious.





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