IN THIS ISSUE: From the Board From the Editor Inward & Outward Research In Psychotherapy & Counseling Beyond Psychotherapy & Counseling Community Connections Trainers' Corner Stories of Transformation Operational Update Contributors’ Circle About OUTLOOK About IFS About the Foundation
At the Interface of Research & Advocacy…
From Your Boardto Our Community
Heartfelt greetings from your Foundation’s Board—ever diligent in actively promoting IFS far and wide. We see IFS as a hopeful path to a state of inner peace, believing that social harmony will closely follow.
Your own stories of healing and inner discovery are what inspire us. We admire what you, as practitioners, do every day to help others navigate the bumpy journey of life, overcome its traumas, and savor precious moments of serenity along the way. Working jointly with you and IFS Institute, our interest at the Foundation is to amplify and deepen our collective impact.
We serve you as stewards of an agenda focused on IFS research and advocacy—cultivating the development of clinical IFS studies; exploring new ideas and incubating innovative programs to push the envelope on IFS applications; and facilitating the presence of IFS, as a psychotherapy protocol and a viable theory of the human psyche, across communities where agencies and individuals do not yet have access to it.
Like you, we imagine IFS becoming a thought paradigm and language of Self and parts that are readily accepted, a clinical treatment widely recognized for accelerating and sustaining mental and emotional healing, and a practice commonly adopted to achieve resilient living and well-being.
In these turbulent times, endeavoring to get IFS (and ourselves) to that place is a cause worthy of our efforts. When outer winds of fear, rancor, and division rage, we need to strengthen our inner shelters of hope, goodness, compassion, and unity. It is, in fact, incumbent upon us to do so in our classrooms and courtrooms, in our households and workplaces, in our places of worship and halls of government.
This is the context of the Foundation’s mission and is what drives us. Our ultimate goal is to instill trust within each of us that we have the wherewithal to face whatever challenge may come our way and pull through it, wiser and more whole.
How do we get there? Key priorities guide our programs and activities today:
Expanding Empirical Evidence. By supporting independent, objective research on the efficacy of IFS clinical treatments, we help examine and build empirical evidence. This could capture the interest and imagination of academicians, researchers, and policymakers, which inches us closer to the ends envisioned above. Next on our docket: to sponsor a robust Phase II randomized controlled study on the effects of IFS in treating PTSD and complex trauma, building on the promising results of an earlier study funded with your generous support.
Introducing Notions of IFS to Schools. Why? Teachers and staff at K–12 schools confront stressful conditions daily. IFS could give them words and processes to handle their challenges more effectively and model for their students how to cope with adversity from a space of calm, curiosity, and active listening. Achieving emotional health is a critical aspect of students’ personal growth and development. B>Next on our docket: to bring to full fruition the current whole-school-immersion project in Connecticut, USA, funded with support from the community, and to empower a community of practice around it.
Alongside what the Foundation does, unique bodies of work to bring IFS to the world are being carried out by each of you. Our efforts are synergistic, and their effects multiply. As the Japanese poet Ryunosuke Satoro put it, “Individually, we are one drop; together, we are an ocean.”
At the Foundation, we celebrate you and your work, always determined to work on your behalf and beside you to make the path to emotional healing and well-being possible and accessible to all.
Vicki McCoy, MA, Chair; Toufic Hakim, PhD, Executive Director; and Board Members Requina Barnes, LICSW; Les Fagen, MA, JD; Pam Krause, MSW, LCSW; and Mark Milton
To contact a board member, please email FirstName@FoundationIFS.org (example: Toufic@FoundationIFS.org).
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From the Editor
"Hindsight is always twenty-twenty."Billy Wilder, Hollywood Golden Age director and screenwriter
Year 2020 ushers in with it an invitation to gather new perspectives. 20/20 implies perfect vision, hindsight, and wisdom. Moments of separation from our beliefs and feelings, being witnessed by our ground of being, greatly benefit not only ourselves but those with whom we engage. Insight into our life’s trials and tribulations through the IFS lens provides us with a unique outlook— one in which we gift ourselves and others with great compassion. This, in turn, enables us to take steps confidently into the world and meet it with our fuller presence.
It is with hindsight in mind that we feature a special interview with Richard Schwartz, PhD, founder of the IFS Model, and his perspective of the evolution and future of IFS in 2020 Vision: A Look at the Past, Present, and Future of IFS with Richard Schwartz. His reflections are sure to be of interest, whether you are new to the Model or have known it for some time.
In addition, members of our generous community inform us of their notable insights utilizing IFS within their circles.
We are delighted to bring you updates in IFS research with Supporting a Significant, Rigorous RCT Study of IFS as a Treatment for PTSD & Opioid Use and A View into Foundation-Supported Research Efforts articles. Please read how together, with your help, we can shepherd a new era of strong evidence-based research supporting IFS.
The Update on Foundation Grant Supporting Integration of IFS In Schools; Leading Learning from Self: A Teacher’s Journey; and Parents, Children, and Teachers Learning Inside and Out reveal the impact of IFS on youth and their many custodians.
Highlighted, are also the many applications both within and outside of psychotherapy, for example: All Together Now! IFS Principles Applied to Group Psychotherapy; Healing Where Angels Fear to Tread: IFS and Scrupulosity; and Integrating IFS into Medicine and Medical Education; along with a special collection of Stories of Transformation— Three Sisters Unburden Family Legacies.
In addition to many other pieces, with each first edition of the year we feature our annual report, new developments with the Foundation, and introduce new associates and staff. We hope you enjoy reading what your Foundation has been doing on your behalf.
As we aspire to inform and inspire our readers, your feedback is valuable to us. Help us gain perspective by completing a very short poll about OUTLOOK, which should take less than five minutes of your time. Click here to take the poll. Likewise, any direct feedback is welcome at OUTLOOK@FoundationIFS.org.
Together, we can forge ahead into new horizons, bringing our collective gifts and insights to the world. __MLG
Do you enjoy reading OUTLOOK? Don’t recycle. Reuse!… Place in your office for clients to enjoy. Similarly, provide a link for OUTLOOK on your website or your resource page and forward to anyone who may benefit.
Supporting a Significant, Rigorous RCT Study of IFS as a Treatment for PTSD & Opioid Use
The Foundation for Self Leadership has a special and unique opportunity on behalf of the IFS community to fund a robust dual study of IFS as a treatment for PTSD and opioid use. This is a two-year $300,000 study to be conducted by a highly-accomplished research team (Northeast, USA). The Foundation has already raised two thirds ($200,000) of the study’s budget and needs help to fund the balance and make this critical study possible—a Phase II randomized-controlled trial for which the Foundation has been patiently waiting and diligently preparing since inception. Given the scope of the research study and the quality of its design, the study promises to expand empirical evidence significantly, inspire new studies and researchers, and secure federal funding to support IFS research which will itself have unspoken positive consequences.
Please donate to the Foundation to help us raise the balance needed for this Phase II study. The Institute has generously contributed to the Foundation through the years, but it takes a village. We need your support to bring IFS evidence-based standing to a higher level.-Richard Schwartz, PhD, founder of IFS
Beyond the short term, given its two priorities (PTSD and opioid use), the dual study responds directly to, and offers IFS-based solutions to help cope with, two pressing crises in the US and globally—opioid addiction among youth, and PTSD effects among military veterans. Both of these conditions result in significant loss of productivity, lasting undesirable impact on families, and even loss of life itself.
ABOUT THE STUDY: The new two-year research awaiting funding builds on the promising results of an earlier IFS study on complex trauma (reduced PTSD symptoms in the long term), which was also funded by the Foundation through generous community support.
IT WILL INVOLVE: 1. A randomized controlled trial (gold standard) of 60 adults diagnosed with PTSD, served at a community mental health center. The treatment group will receive a 16-week intensive IFS treatment from highly trained IFS psychotherapists. It is proposed to assess as primary outcome reduction in PTSD severity (from baseline to weeks 16 and 24), as measured by blinded raters with the leading Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS-5) through regularly gathered self-assessment reports. A series of secondary outcomes will be also monitored.
2. A feasibility and acceptability single-arm study of an IFS treatment for 12 individuals with PTSD and co-morbid substance abuse disorder.
It is hoped that this study will significantly facilitate the dissemination of IFS to new communities and clinical settings and extend its access far and wide.
Members of the IFS community, who have experienced the promise and power of IFS to accelerate and sustain emotional healing and well-being, are invited to support this study and help make this transformative experience possible for others.
To offer support, please click here.
Please note that you’d like your donation to be used for the Phase II Study.
QUESTIONS? Please contact the Foundation’s Executive Director, Toufic Hakim, PhD, Toufic@FoundationIFS.org or Ilanit Tal, PhD, Senior Research Manager, research@FoundationIFS.org
We are excited to report that the Foundation is inching closer toward its goal of funding a randomized controlled clinical trial of IFS for PTSD treatment (see p. 7 for an exciting update and call for support!). In addition to continuing to support the execution of past and current Foundation-funded research projects, we do our best to stay attuned to other independent IFS research being conducted.
In service to our inspired and dedicated clinicians, professors, and students, our team at the Foundation remains committed to tracking projects and connecting researchers to each other and to volunteer IFS therapists and raters. We also provide methodological guidance and annotate results to make communication about research findings more centralized and accessible to researchers interested in studying IFS and available to the academic and clinical community at large. All of this work, which furthers the advancement of IFS research, is made possible by your generous support and voluntary contributions. We thank you!
We often receive inquiries about where to find information about published IFS research. If you haven’t visited the searchable IFS Resource Database yet, please take a look. We have been fortunate to have Jenn Matheson, PhD, LMFT, lead the development and maintenance of this database. Assisted by Kristen Myshrall, PhD, and many generous volunteers, Dr. Matheson and her team have indexed IFS qualitative and quantitative studies, including theses, dissertations, and theoretical papers. Each publication is annotated to highlight its utility for IFS researchers, including details about how to access the publication for those who want a closer read. The database continues to be a work in progress as new articles emerge, and the scope has expanded to include nonresearch books, manuals, and clinically oriented publications. Special thanks to Nancy Cherico, PhD, who annotated many books and articles for us in 2019.
We welcome additional volunteers who are skilled in reading, summarizing, and extracting relevant information for entry into our database. Please contact Dr. Matheson directly at annotations@FoundationIFS.org to learn more about receiving training to volunteer for the Foundation in this capacity.
The database includes the crucial 2013 rheumatoid arthritis study that was the basis for IFS receiving recognition by SAMHSA in 2015 as an evidence-based practice (SAMHSA entry is captured verbatim on the Foundation’s website), as well as many other entries describing important contributions from our colleagues. For example, did you know that there was a 2017 randomized pilot study showing that IFS is at least as effective as current preferred treatments (CBT and IPT) in treating depression among female college students?
You can also find in the database the original paper that resulted in two validated IFS scales being developed to measure traits of Self and various parts. The IFS Scale, created by Lia DeLand, MS, is available for pay-per-use for clinicians. Lia has graciously worked with the Foundation to create a process for making it available to IFS researchers (for no fee—only a suggested donation to the Foundation) and those wishing to translate it for use in other languages. We are eager to see the promising results from the Foundation-funded Trauma Center PTSD pilot study in the database as soon as it is published (we hope to have news to share soon!).
Whether you have conducted research in your own training or chosen to focus your talents toward purely clinical work, you may be aware of the immense amount of work and time that go into conducting qualitative and quantitative research and clinical trials, completing thesis projects, and getting dissertations and articles published. The research process requires a lot of patience and perseverance, and we salute our IFS research pioneers for their courage and contributions to the community through research. Be on the lookout for highlights of IFS research—past, present, and future.
Keep in mind that we are also here to support clinicians who might want to contribute by sharing case studies of interesting concepts or clients. We look forward to hearing from you at research@FoundationIFS.org about your research plans, achievements, volunteer aspirations, and inquiries. And, as always, we welcome any introductions to researchers or research funders in your personal and professional networks!
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or do they? This year, IFS Institute will unveil the new Internal Family SystemsSM Level 1 Training Manual, by Trailhead Publications.
Now in the middle of its third decade, the broad reach and tremendous impact of IFS with countless people around the world continues to spiral upwards. Over the years, many books and publications have been written on the subject, both inside and outside of the Institute. One of the most important publications is the training manual that is given to every Level 1 participant, as the foundation for every soon-to-be IFS practitioner or therapist. The manual provides IFS core principles, steps, and interventions unavailable in other publications.
However, several years ago Lead Trainer Mariel Pastor, LMFT, noticed participants in trainings referencing the original thirty-some page manual appreciably less often than in previous years. Furthermore, she and other trainers were increasingly creating their own handouts to supplement the skeleton of concepts in the manual, often duplicating one another’s efforts. As a result of the lack of consistency, some trainings received more supplemental materials than others.
Likewise, the new discoveries made by Richard Schwartz, PhD, and insights from trainers over the years made clear the necessity for a new manual to ensure the fidelity of the Model. Having joined the Trainer Council in 2013, Mariel became a vocal proponent for a revised edition, catalyzing the process.
The seven-year undertaking began with an initial planning committee headed by Mariel and several trainers including Chris Burris, LPC, LMFT; Toni Herbine-Blank, MS, RN, C-SP; Paul Neustadt, MSS, LICSW; Ann Sinko, LMFT; Nancy Sowell, LICSW; and Institute Director of Staffing, Judith Eldredge. Together, Nancy and Mariel ascertained consistency of trainings across the country with regard to topics presented, such as direct access or working with the body. Learning objectives for each traditional-style training weekend were reorganized and reviewed by the two, along with Richard. A massive source file was completed after coordinated pairs of trainers reviewed modules and gathered each trainer’s supplemental handouts. At that point, Jen Gauvain, LCSW, writer and IFS therapist, joined to assist Mariel in composing the final manual. Kathleen Shannon with Braid Creative completed the final design.
“In the end, nearly every trainer is represented explicitly or implicitly. As it turns out, so many of us have influenced each other, and all of us were directly trained by Dick,” Mariel reports. The new 193-page manual includes key excerpts and passages from Richard’s new edition of Internal Family System TherapySM, along with legacy and cultural burdens, more on the steps post-unburdening, recognizing the diversity of our parts’ expression, the importance of real inclusion, and the impact of marginalization, in addition to more worksheets, journal pages, and other new information. It is anticipated that companion presentation slides that can be customized by trainers and a video library of demonstrations of key skills and full sessions will be available for access to participants in the future.
The manual will debut at all Level 1 trainings, whether they are traditional or retreat style or in the United States. International distribution is yet to be determined; the manual is currently undergoing translations. It will be included in the tuition for Level 1 training only and not be sold to the general public or through any online programs. However, alumni will be able to purchase one hard copy for personal use. “I’m grateful for the honor to have seen this massive effort through,” reflects Mariel after completion. “I believe it’s one step in ensuring the fidelity of the Model.”
Stay tuned for announcements from the Institute on how you may purchase the new manual. __MLG
In each era, the growth and understanding of the human condition, relationships, and life continue to evolve and expand. Human knowledge and wisdom commonly build in each generation on the one before it. What a privilege it is to be experiencing in real-time the evolution of the Internal Family Systems ModelSM and its expansion across various professions and walks of life.
Thirty-five years ago, Richard Schwartz, PhD, embarked upon a journey of exploration and development of a deep and broadly embraced view of the human psyche. Fully equipped with his genuine curiosity and astute observations, he forged ahead. As the years passed, he came to know himself to a greater extent than parts of him likely anticipated. The vision and structure of the IFS Model has continually become clearer and more focused since its inception.
Shaun: Since 2020 has arrived and with the notion of hindsight being 20/20, we’re pleased to share with the larger IFS community your reflections on the past and thoughts on the future of your life’s work, not only in terms of the global use of the Model, which is now 35 years old—half your age—but also how its growth and use have impacted you personally. I’ll begin with my questions, and Michelle will follow.
Dick: This is a great opportunity. Thank you.
S: Researchers talk about achieving less than they expect in the first 12 months and then more than they dreamed of in the subsequent 10 years. As the developer of the IFS Model over the last 35 years, has the Model exceeded your original expectations, and if so, how?
D: Actually, it hasn’t. When I really understood that Self was “within” everybody, which was maybe a couple of years in, I had a vision: “This changes everything. If this pans out, this can change everything.” And then I thought, “Oh my god, who’s going to do it? I’m just a little kid.” At that point, I was probably 35—I was not ambitious or articulate, and I had lots of bad habits. So I thought, “I hope someone comes along who can take this where it’s supposed to go because it really has that potential. But it’s not me.” Then, over and over, it just came back to me. As it turns out, I’m the one I was waiting for. [All laugh] So I saw the potential early. And it’s nice at this point for one small piece of that vision to have manifested, but the vision is much larger.
S: Following on from that, is there anything you would do differently in terms of developing the Model starting out as a 35-year-old family systems therapist?
D: I don’t look back with a lot of regret. I feel like my family suffered to some degree because of my obsession with it. I could have done that part better and handled it differently with my kids and my former wife.
I feel like the opportunities and the pace came to me from some source. So I feel good about the fact that, as opportunities would show up, I stepped into them and trusted them as I stepped off this cliff: leaving my job, going out on my own, and starting the Institute (CSL at the time). I can’t think of a lot I would have done differently. There were parts of me operating back then that alienated some people, and that could have been manifested differently. But those were the same parts that gave me the courage to get out there and do it.
S: Have the relationships that involved some alienation or that didn’t work out so well been repaired over the years?
D: I think so. My relationship with my kids is very strong now. They’re close to Jeanne, my current wife, too. And things with my former wife are a lot better. I don’t know that we’ll ever talk it all through or do the full repair, but things are improved.
S: That’s great to hear. How do you see IFS in another 35 years? What are your hopes for the Model in terms of its research base and the applications it may have or the domains in which it will be used?
D: It’s a big, kind of grandiose, vision, perhaps, but if I have a lot of help while I’m alive and then people continue, I would love to see it replace the paradigm that is currently used to understand the mind. If that happened, it would trickle into all kinds of different fields where people would know how to access Self. They would know how to heal and not fight with parts that create polarizations, which ordinarily people are constantly fighting with.
Many of these polarizations get played out externally, too. So, if IFS were to replace the combination of the Darwinian idea of the mind, to some degree the Freudian idea of the mind, and to some degree all the current ways that people are understanding the mind, the simple idea becomes that the Self is just beneath the surface and is capable of leading people’s lives. It’s really not that hard. It’s possible to stay in that place after you’ve healed and then Self-to-Self communication takes over. This is healing at deeper levels. That’s the ultimate vision—for it to be a cultural meme that then trickles into all these different fields.
That’s the ultimate vision— for it to be a cultural meme that then trickles into all these different fields.
S: Over the course of the last 35 years, who have been some of the inspirational people you’ve met on the journey who have influenced the shaping of the Model?
D: There have been a lot of people. I’d say initially mostly clients. I was very fortunate to have had certain clients who could articulate their systems very well. I ultimately coauthored the book The Mosaic Mind with one of them—Reggie Goulding. She taught me a huge amount. Early on, I also had students who’d point me in certain directions and embrace the Model in ways I hadn’t up to that point.
S: Do you have an example?
D: Yes, Debbie Gorman-Smith, PhD, was really brilliant. She was able to help me organize the framework of the Model and think things through.
Also Michi Rose, PhD, MSW, who still presents at our conference. We collaborated on unburdenings and the understanding of how all that happens. Mary Jo Barrett, MSW, helped me organize the outcome study that this all came from and also helped me understand parts. Then, some of the early trainers who are still around, like Susan McConnell, MA, and a few other people who became early collaborators and brainstormers. They would try something and come back with reports. I’d say those were the main inspirations.
And then I would hear about other models. I would look into them and think initially, “Oh, I just stole their thunder.” You know, I just came upon the same stuff. I didn’t think IFS was that unique, but then I would stay with it and find out the parts of it that were unique, despite it being similar. There were theorists that I never actually met, like Roberto Assagioli, MD, of psychosynthesis and Hal and Sidra Stone, PhD (both), of Voice Dialogue. Reading their material encouraged me to think I was on the right track.
S: That’s a nice hierarchy of clients and IFS trainers, and then other models. My last question is my favorite. Can you tell us how you’ve changed over the last 35 years in terms of your parts and your own internal family system?
D: I had some parts that got me out there. I was driven to do something important from the burdens I carried from my father, who was hard on me because I’m the oldest of six boys. I was supposed to be a prominent physician. Three of my brothers are, but I wasn’t very focused as a kid. I wasn’t a good student. I think I had a touch of ADHD, which may have come from traumas.
My father was very hard on me, instilling in me a chunk of worthlessness, and I was driven to prove him wrong. But he also gave me gifts, which included a sense of the value of science and the importance of following your passion and following the data, even if it takes you away from the paradigm—which is what he had done in making discoveries in medicine. At first, I thought family therapy was going to be the thing that I could impress him with.
When the traditional family therapy models failed in my attempts to serve my clients well and I got into the parts stuff, I thought this would be way too strange for him. But to his credit, he just said, “Keep exploring.”
I had a part who could keep me from caring what anybody thought, who protected me from my father’s energy. It enabled me to get in front of grand rounds in the department of psychiatry and talk about this without caring about how people reacted. I was attacked several times, actually, but this part could shield me from that and would keep me going. But it turns out those parts aren’t the best ones to be in front when you’re the leader of a community because there’s a level of arrogance to those parts, and at times they dismiss others’ views. I was lucky that I had strong people following me who would give me feedback when I was out of line.
To my credit, I listened inside and also had someone I worked with. I did a lot of healing of my parts who were driving that behavior—parts who had the big agenda of proving my father wrong or who needed all the accolades.
To my credit, I listened inside and also had someone I worked with. I did a lot of healing of my parts who were driving that behavior—parts who had the big agenda of proving my father wrong or who needed all the accolades. It’s probably an oxymoron to say that I’m humble because a humble person wouldn’t say that they’re humble. But I really do aspire to be humble in the sense that I don’t need accolades anymore. I’m not doing it for those same reasons at all. People see that and they sense that. So after having done that internal work, I think it’s a lot easier for people to be drawn to the Model, partly because I also don’t have to be critical of other models as much or say that IFS is better. People don’t have to drop what they already know to get attracted to IFS.
Jeanne was and still is a great tor-mentor to me because she can stand up to me, and sometimes I listen. She gets a lot of credit from people in the community for the changes they perceive in me, and she deserves it.
Michelle: Thank you, Shaun. Dick, you are clearly one of those people living their life’s purpose. I’d like to give you an opportunity to add to what you said above, if you’d like to. What were a few of the biggest obstacles you personally faced as the Model went through its growing pains and grew in popularity?
D: I always thought of myself as an introvert. I had a real fear of public speaking that had me avoid classes all through college where I might have to give an oral report or anything like that. I just had a phobia about it. It wasn’t until I stumbled onto this and got the vision about the potential of IFS that I realized I had to work with the parts of me that were so afraid of judgment, which was tied into the worthlessness I mentioned earlier. Those parts still come up at times, but not nearly as much. Now they trust me so much more.
Also, in the beginning there was a sense that maybe this isn’t what I think it is. There was always a kind of doubting part because so many authorities were saying I was wrong, whether I heard them say it directly to me or I read about it. A part saw me as a little kid who said, “Who is going to listen to you? Maybe you’re distorting what you’re finding.” My doubting part was around for the first five years or so in a big way. The arrogant “I don’t care” part was the counter to the doubter. So, I had that polarization going on internally.
Then there was a part that could be very hurt and take it very personally when people didn’t get it or when they would dis it for some reason. Then parts of me would want to just give up or stay away from some of the places I wanted to take it to for fear of that. In the early days, I can remember times in workshops when I would go off on people in the audience when they would say something critical. My friend Rich Simon, PhD, at the Networker has stories about that. I look back on those times with some humor but also some embarrassment.
There are still parts of me who can feel hurt if people don’t like IFS. A protector will come in and say, “Pearls before swine,” and things like that, but not nearly like it used to. That’s probably because I feel like the Model is coming through me—it’s not coming out of my brain. I don’t have the same kind of attachment to it that I did.
M: I appreciate your expanding on Shaun’s last question and for your self-disclosure in sharing about your parts. Preserving the essence of the Model is vital. What do you see as potential large obstacles for IFS in the future, especially with respect to ensuring that the fidelity of the Model is observed?
D: That one is a challenge! I’m aware of the fact that a lot of people who take a workshop or the IFS Online Circle, or who have various other kinds of exposure to IFS, are using IFS without being clearly trained. That’s a big concern in terms of quality control, especially given how it’s exploded in popularity now. I’ve always had this kind of running debate: do I just put it out there, or do we make sure people learn it in our trainings? I’ve tried to find a balance between the two with big encouragement for people to do the training, especially before they work with trauma survivors. It’s now a valuable credential to say, “I am an IFS therapist or practitioner.” People increasingly want to say that, even without the training they really need.
That’s why we’re striving to do more research. Donating to the Foundation goes a long way toward ensuring that we have adequate funding for rigorous independent research to validate the Model. I encourage readers to donate to the Foundation toward expanding IFS research.
The other obstacle is that it’s still very countercultural to believe in the natural multiplicity of the mind. There are still bastions of psychotherapy that would think this view is ridiculous, and there are many, many forces in our culture that support what I call the mono-mind view—the other paradigm. It remains a tough sell, and that’s why we need so much more research. You can’t convince people by just saying, “Believe me!” Sometimes when they experience it, they go with it, but we also have to walk our talk and prove it. That’s why we’re striving to do more research. Donating to the Foundation goes a long way toward ensuring that we have adequate funding for rigorous independent research to validate the Model. I encourage readers to donate to the Foundation toward expanding IFS research.
A major recession would set back the IFS Institute and then the trainings. We’re facing a lot of possible pitfalls. One of the things I’ve learned is the power of patient persistence, even in the face of setbacks. Along the way, many parts of me wanted to give up, but I just keep plowing on. You said this earlier—I do feel like one of the lucky people who found what he’s here to do, loves doing it, and is good at it. I feel totally blessed for that.
M: Yes, you’re a great example for us all. You and I share the vision of IFS being utilized by everyone, or as I like to say, “IFS as the air we all breathe.” We envision a world in which everyone has the ability to turn to anyone they are near to assist with unblending to regain our Self leadership, where compassion and curiosity and the rest of the 8Cs abound, where all parts are truly welcome, and where healing transformation is achieved. Given that IFS is used now in many places outside of psychotherapy and is becoming a way of life for many, as stewards of the Model, what advice do you have for the rest of us so that we each foster this shared vision into creation and help it have the biggest impact on the future?
D: Very poetic, very nice. I think the advice I would give to all of you is the advice that I give to myself or my parts all the time, which is: it’s worth it.
You know, it’s worth it, whatever hardship or whatever obstacle. Just keep going with it. It does have the potential to change everything. It’s just worth continuing to do.
M: The eternal “hope merchant”?
D: Yes! It’s worth it—keep going.
M: We talk about how, if our clients have little or no access to their Self, we as therapists or practitioners hold Self for their system. When we think of larger systems in the world (organizations, countries, and so on), how do you see the role of ISF Institute holding Self for these larger systems as the world moves more into Self leadership and learns the Model?
D: I’ve tried to develop the Institute into a Self led organization. We’ve had growing pains and have had to do our own “unburdening” with leaders. We’ve had many, many exchanges with our trainers about how we can all do our work better. I think things are in pretty good shape now that way. We have all done a lot of our inner work. My brother Jon, who directs the Institute, and I have listened a lot to and solicited, to our credit, feedback from trainers, program assistants, and students about how we can do this better. There are still things we need to work on, but that’s what we’re striving for—to walk our talk.
There are still things we need to work on, but that’s what we’re striving for—to walk our talk.
In addition to “the air we breathe,” we’re trying to achieve the idea of a Self led organization. I’ve been working a lot for two years with people who are high-level organizational consultants and executive coaches. It’s exciting to me to be able to potentially reach leaders of countries or leaders of corporations through them. My belief is that if we can get leaders of all these different systems who are Self led, it will trickle down in big ways.
M: So, just as each of us practitioners explores our own trailheads to become more Self led with clients, those in the Institute are doing the same. It’s a work in progress, as always?
D: That’s right.
M: As we look into the hopefully very, very distant future, what are the plans for succession, and how do you anticipate that affecting the legacy and continued growth of the Model?
D: We’ve thought a lot about that in the last few years. There’s no heir apparent to my role, actually. The Institute will share with the community in due time how we’ll be setting its business direction and who will preside over it after me. We’re starting to think about recruiting an advisory board. The Institute will keep on. It’s at a point now where it has a life of its own. I don’t fear that it will dissolve or that the Model will disappear when I die. There are many, many people out there constantly doing IFS introductory workshops now. The trainers I’m blessed to have are fabulous people who are committed to advancing IFS, and there’s growing interest in all kinds of different areas, to the point where I just can’t keep up. So, it’s really settling to some part of me to know that what I spent all these years doing, this legacy will continue and that there are very capable people who are very committed to it.
M/S: Yes, many of us have a deep passion for the work and hopes for what IFS can do. Thank you, Dick, for everything you’ve given to this Model and countless individuals, and for leaving this legacy to the world. Thank you for sharing your time for this interview. It’s been a real pleasure.
D: You’re very welcome. The two of you are people I can trust to carry this on, and you’re both a good deal younger. I feel like OUTLOOK is a wonderful contribution and is in good hands.
S/M: It’s an honor.
PS. Dick Schwartz, Developer of IFS, is the president of the newly renamed IFS Institute, a sister organization to the Foundation for Self Leadership. Formally independent of one another, the two organizations work collaboratively and synergistically to achieve a shared vision. They jointly seek to provide greater access in the world to emotional healing through individual access to the IFS paradigm and practice—the discovery of one’s parts and Self leadership.
Dr. Ash ElDifrawi (Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Psy. D.), has been researching and writing for two decades on his theory that there are ten basic beliefs for how humans might achieve enduring happiness. Unfortunately, according to Ash, only one of them is right, and the story of how his work intersects nicely with Internal Family Systems offers some intriguing thoughts.
In conjunction with his colleague, Alex Lickerman, MD, Ash has outlined his thoughts in The Ten Worlds: The New Psychology of Happiness, where he suggests a finite set of combinations for attaining happiness. Working from the bottom world up, Ash describes a series of states which are ostensibly related to the presence or absence of parts and Self energy starting with Hell, Hunger, Animality, and Anger, and working through to Tranquility, Rapture, Learning, and Realization, before finishing off with Compassion and Enlightenment. Interestingly, Ash posits that even compassion (one of the 8Cs) as he defines it, can have an element of delusion—inasmuch as it can drive us to care more about the happiness of others than we do about our own, leading to resentment and the burden of altruistic action. In that sense, it becomes unsustainable over time.
For Ash, the overlap with IFS, both with individuals and couples, occurs in the nine worlds when parts take over and demand attachment to specific outcomes. This demand for attachment is a corollary to the IFS notion of being blended where the act of engaging with these beliefs about happiness influences our life-condition, leading to our own customized version of one of the nine worlds. However, in the tenth world of Enlightenment, happiness is completely sustainable because there is no attachment to specific outcomes. “This state has been experienced across different times, cultures and people, in exactly the same way,” Ash says. When in this world during individual therapy, “the chatter quiets down, your sense of autobiographical self quiets down and you’re able to experience the world in a more connected way, with a sense of awe, which is the gateway into a more childlike, wondering world.” In this state, the IFS Model would say that we have become unblended and are able to access Self energy. It’s not that our parts cease to exist and it’s not that our parts have been banished, Ash argues. It’s more that in the world of Enlightenment, troublesome emotions are “muted, colored by the feeling of transcendent joy, and transformed into experiences that can even be enjoyed.” Doesn’t that sound like a healthy dose of Self energy?
When in this world during individual therapy, “the chatter quiets down, your sense of autobiographical self quiets down and you’re able to experience the world in a more connected way, with a sense of awe, which is the gateway into a more childlike, wondering world.”
It’s not surprising that Ash leans into the IFS Model. His thinking started about the Ten Worlds nearly two decades ago, while working on his dissertation which was a case study of a couple in distress and where Richard Schwartz, PhD, was one of his academic advisers. Ash remembers studying in his internship at the Family Institute where the IFS Model was taught and says that Dick helped him think about how to apply the Model to his clinical practice. IFS made sense and felt highly pragmatic to him and he became aware that the more he applied it in his clinical work, the more success he achieved.
Ash and his colleague Alex have worked on their book for 23 years because they are committed to making the world a happier place, at times having endured the journey because they truly believe a real chance for lasting happiness exists. The book is not pop psychology or a self-help quick fix guide; rather, it is based in real case studies and sound clinical and neurological data. The overlap with IFS is noteworthy and Ash is hopeful that clinicians will test out the hypotheses of his book in the real world. The Ten Worlds’ notion of Enlightenment is highly correlated with the IFS construct of Self energy and as such it resonates nicely with Dick’s observation of Self energy as “a sense of calm spaciousness, as if our minds and hearts and souls had expanded and brightened.” Anything that brings more of that into our world has to be a good thing.
For those wanting to engage further with Ash, he can be contacted through his email firstname.lastname@example.org. __SD
IFS as a model is gaining traction in a number of different domains including individual therapy, couple therapy, trauma therapy, schools, prisons, and corporate organizations—just to name a few. As part of this expansion, one certified IFS therapist is increasing a body of work done before her to specifically develop the effectiveness of IFS when working with groups.
In her former life, Sue Richmond, MSW, LCSW, and Assistant Trainer, worked as a program manager at a hospital-based intensive outpatient and partial hospital program. However, in the intensive clinical work with which she was faced, Sue began to feel that traditional cognitive and cognitive behavioral therapies were missing the mark on meeting the needs of her patients. Patients were presenting with more symptomatic acuity in the context of managed care medicine, however they were faced with significantly reduced lengths of stay for treatment. In response to this pressure, Sue coined the term “psychiatric palliative care” to describe the inadequacy of what she felt traditional medical model therapies were offering, and through what she calls “the gift of desperation,” Sue started to bring simple IFS concepts into her group work.
When her clients enthusiastically resonated with the notion that there was more to them than their illness, Sue hoped to bring more IFS principles into her day job. However, her organization was wedded to traditional group-based treatments which no longer resonated with the direction she was going in her work and that’s when fate stepped in to weave its influence.
At 45 years old, Sue was diagnosed with breast cancer and around this time she serendipitously contacted a colleague with a question about a simple funding issue related to her work. At the conclusion of the conversation, Sue’s colleague mentioned an upcoming vacant position and detecting a potential opening, Sue agreed to apply for the position with the understanding that IFS would be a major part of her work. She was also taking her own IFS trailheads, as well as attending a number of trainings. Sue remembers watching the pacing of the group trainings from a meta perspective and realizing the trainer was essentially engaging in group therapy. Yes, it was training, but it was still an IFS group with all the associated group dynamics.
Sue is quick to credit those who were her IFS mentors in using the principles of IFS in group therapy including Mary Kruger, LMFT (Lead Trainer); Ann Sinko, LMFT (Lead Trainer); Ralph Cohen, PhD (Lead Trainer); and Tracy McNab, PhD. Sue noticed that when clients embraced the IFS Model and came to an understanding that it was a part of them that experienced symptoms rather than the whole, it significantly lifted their shame and allowed them to get curious about themselves.
“It’s not some secret magic trick I’m doing in groups,” says Sue. “The first thing I’m doing is focusing on the 6 Fs* and that creates content in the group.
As proficient exponents are able to do, Sue simplifies the process of using IFS in group work by focusing on the basics. “It’s not some secret magic trick I’m doing in groups,” says Sue. “The first thing I’m doing is focusing on the 6 Fs* and that creates content in the group. The processes kick in organically when you help people witness the similarity between their parts and other peoples’ parts. The facilitator has to have good Self energy and sit in that situation unblended from parts. People can’t help but become more Self led. The flow of the Model is going to move around and be self-correcting, but whenever you’re in a critical mass of Self, you’re doing IFS therapy.”
For Sue, the proof has been in the pudding with noticeably fewer hospitalizations while in her new role and better outcomes all round. She cites one example of an acutely unwell client whose suicidal part was causing significant anxiety in other group members. By slowing things down and using direct access to check in with the anxious parts of the other group members, Sue was able to help her client hear and witness an aspect of her suicidal part in a way that was completely new for her. That group process opened up therapeutic opportunities that had not previously been accessed.
When asked about her future work developing a set of principles to guide IFS-informed group work, Sue notes she has presented on the topic multiple times at the annual IFS Conference and is due to present a three-day workshop in Bristol, England, next summer. Because she has received many inquiries from people looking to do IFS oriented group work, Sue is working on a book to present the protocols and curriculum that she has developed. Keeping it simple again, Sue notes, “the writing I’ve been doing over the years is a book in the making and my next job is to pull that together. I feel an obligation to do that.”
For those wanting to engage further with Sue on this topic, she can be contacted through her email or website: email@example.com or through her website. __SD
* The 6Fs are part of the IFS protocol whereby we get to know a part.
Malki Spira, LMHC, has been assisting individuals in her private practice in Brooklyn, New York for the past eighteen years. A rabbi’s wife, her practice services members of an insulated Chassidic community, with many Yiddish speaking clients who have little exposure to contemporary culture. Around a quarter of her clients suffer from scrupulosity, a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which involves religious or moral obsessions. Both Roman Catholic and Jewish writings have referenced this condition since ancient times as a disease of the soul. A great Chassidic Rebbe, Rabbi Nochum Freidman of Shtephinesht, described scrupulosity as “a cloak made of pride, lined with guilt, and sewn with melancholy.”
Scrupulous individuals are overly concerned that something they thought or did might be a sin or violation of religious or moral doctrine. Their preoccupation is accompanied by a high degree of painful anxiety, as is typical of OCD, but also by a high level of guilt which exacerbates the pain. Guilt arises from a sense that, “I have caused G-d displeasure,” coupled with the feeling, “I just never get it just right,” which introduces a component of depression to this anxiety disorder. To ward off these horrible feelings, people suffering with scrupulosity get trapped in repetitive and excessive prayer or other religious behavior, checking out the correctness of their behavior with religious leaders and/or seeking penance or absolution. Behaviors that to the outsider look like extreme piety are actually an expression of anxiety.
As emotions hijack and distort the thought process, it is extremely difficult to access and activate the clarity of thought necessary to challenge the client’s distorted belief system. In the case of scrupulosity, the distorted thoughts take on an extremely elevated level of significance in the sufferer’s mind: if he errs, he will be opposing the will of the L-rd Almighty. Gaining entry into the client’s system to begin the work is challenging and treatment is incredibly anxiety-provoking for the client. Malki originally tried therapeutic modalities that brought some symptom relief but the healing felt superficial. While clients could celebrate being able to finish praying in the same amount of time as most other people, they failed to gain insight into why they were praying longer than others and never fully healed.
“There are no bandaids, quick-fixes, challenging exercises, or rah-rah coaching in IFS. Rather, there is respect and compassion for the story of your life,”
Looking for the solution, Malki turned to a prominent rabbi-therapist in her community. His answer both scared and galvanized her when he told her he felt it was a waste of time to attempt treating scrupulous patients as they just don’t get better. With determination, Malki told herself, “Because the angels of OCD need absolute perfection. I will go there. I will go where angels fear to tread.”
Therapeutic work with clients changed dramatically after Malki began integrating IFS about eight years ago. “I feel privileged to introduce IFS to my community. I now tread firmly with the angels. We can be perfectly imperfect,” she declares. She finds IFS to be a respectful, client-led intervention that engages the client with gentleness and sensitivity, allowing the therapist to gain safe entry into the client’s hypervigilant system. “There are no bandaids, quick-fixes, challenging exercises, or rah-rah coaching in IFS. Rather, there is respect and compassion for the story of your life,” she continues.
To aspire towards holism and integration is a philosophical tenet of Judaism. According to Maimonides, a thirteenth century Jewish philosopher, man struggles when any part in his system becomes too extreme. Maimonides suggests healing this by integrating an opposite, balancing strength to achieve the “golden mean” and live his greatness. Applying this theory, scrupulosity occurs when the careful part of the individual takes on an extreme edge and expresses itself as overly cautious. Balanced integration is achieved by leaning into a healthy inner calm.
As a psychospiritual means of healing, IFS dovetails with this goal and empowers this process. Using parts work to heal extremely anxious parts reveals peaceful Self energy which realigns the Self. Malki learned the importance of integrating a client’s Rabbi at the start of the treatment to challenge the client’s way of practicing and establish that Judaism actually requires them to heal their anxiety. This holds the possibility of reassuring and encouraging them to do anxiety-provoking work with their protector parts and exiles as an act of serving G-d. As a result, she has seen new behavioral choices become possible. She advises therapists to join with the client’s religious figure, as it will “empower you to gain credibility in challenging your client’s distorted belief system.”
She recommends that anyone suffering from scrupulosity be aware that the work is deep, spiritual, and healing—like a re-birthing of Self. “The task is demanding and takes determination but with patience and compassion it is truly transformational, justifying your investment many times over,” she encourages. Similarly, she advises family members to expect healing from trauma to be a journey. “You can support your loved one’s growth by joining with them in the process. Gently witnessing their work and supporting them when their parts blend will empower their work.”
Malki is currently developing an awareness- building podcast where individuals can learn an integrative approach based on IFS to treat scrupulosity. Malki can be reached at 718-501-2304. __MLG
Of a better world,
One in which all individuals,
regardless of background, education,profession, appearance, or life choices;irrespective of behaviors or decisionsstatements or signs, grimaces or gestures
Are noticed and clearly seen
for what they truly are, beneath their façade, behind the unconscious acting, reacting, and pretending,
for their human core, gentle yet powerful, pure and unblemished, hidden deep within, waiting to be recognized, awakened, activated, and released…
Are inspired to manifest better versions of themselves,
by clearing the debris of life and suffering that life has piled up,
by taking stock and responsibility for what they do and how they do it,
by discovering and then tapping into their inner wisdom that will guide them forward in their interactions and exchanges, day in and day out;
to hold onto the belief that their healing is within their reach,
that their days can be lived more deliberately, in alignment with human ideals of goodness, hope, and humility…
Are motivated to pursue one of many pathways ahead
knowing that, come what may, how they respond to life is in their hands
Dream with us of a world...
In which all individuals,
when they have the chance to meet their own internal family of parts, there for their own protection and survival,
gain insights to help them grow into being more human rather than less so; and when they get a peek into their own Self,
universally and uniquely human, beautiful, compassionate, generous, caringly engaged yet not attached to pre-established ends,
they find the empowerment they need
to lead a life of meaning, peace, and bliss, even in the face and midst of adversity and challenges of their physical existence,
to actively navigate their destiny and perhaps help design its direction,
cognizant of when to command and when to follow, in lieu of haphazardly meandering through their years, nearly powerless, helpless and lost, mere objects of happenstance…
In a limited and significant way, this dream drives the Foundation’s efforts to promote notions of parts and Self, as far and creatively as we can take them, by supporting and expanding IFS research and service-programming…
Our long-term intention: To constantly inspire human emotional development and contribute, no matter how small the contribution, to fostering inner peace for a more peaceful reality…
UPDATE ON FOUNDATION GRANT SUPPORTING INTEGRATION OF IFS IN SCHOOLS
With generous support from former IFS Assistant Trainer Joy Shivas, LCSW, the Foundation has funded a new two-year IFS-in-Schools effort. It’s designed to bring notions of Self leadership and parts-awareness to teachers and staff (and students through them) at three schools in Connecticut, USA. This is the second award by the Foundation to introduce the IFS language and lens to schools as another step toward advancing emotional learning and well-being. The Foundation’s intention is to help facilitate conversations and collaborations among a number of individuals pioneering IFS-informed activities in schools.
Besides introducing hundreds of teachers and staff to key IFS principles, the multi-pronged CT program is expected to lead to the design of a Self leadership related curricular framework and new empirical evidence through a comprehensive review led by a research team at Columbia University’s Teachers College.
The overview below is presented by Program Director Joanna Curry-Sartori, LMFT. One of the programs’ teachers, Melissa Zych, EdD, shares her story in “Leading Learning from Self.”
Collaborating for Self Leadership – by Joanna Curry-Sartori, LMFT
The Self Leadership Collaborative, based in Connecticut, is piloting how to integrate IFS as a whole-school approach to social and emotional learning. Through the activities, we’re endeavoring to answer a number of questions (see the box below) at three schools in Connecticut.
How do we translate IFS concepts, principles and practices in a school setting?
How do students learn about their parts’ positive intent and operate with confidence in their innate Self?
How do teachers have compassion for their parts as they persist amidst the myriad stressors challenging our schools?
How does school leadership apply the wisdom of Self leadership to policies, procedures, interventions and educational pedagogy?
And how do we fundamentally nurture a school culture that reflects and conveys the gifts of Self as an everyday way of being?
Charter Oak International Academy, an International Baccalaureate elementary school in West Hartford
Strong Middle School, a grade-7-to-8 school serving students in a rural area, Durham/Middlefield
A.I. Prince Technical High School in the capital, Hartford, which prepares students to be college and career-ready.
Our holistic approach involves introductory professional development for the whole staff and a smaller “ambassador” group receiving monthly intensive workshops to learn the Model and support experimentation with how to best apply the approach in each unique community. We don’t want this to be just another initiative, intervention, or rigid curriculum. By focusing on four areas, we help school communities discover how they can practice and embody Self Leadership as an authentic culture.
Individual Well-being – Beginning with self-awareness, adults are invited to experience the benefits of being more Self led, personally and professionally.
Daily Relationships – Tools from the IFS Model, such as speaking for parts rather than from parts, are informing day-to-day school interactions among adults and with children.
Formal Curriculum – Educators are partnering with us to customize effective ways to teach students how to recognize parts, return to Self, connect compassionately, and engage effectively in learning.
School Policy, Procedure, & Practice – In collaboration with leadership and student support teams, new IFS-informed practices are being explored.
Our effort takes into consideration the uniqueness of each school: Students of varying ages, backgrounds, capacities and needs; educators with different types of training and expertise, concerns and visions; communities in significantly different settings including families from very different contexts.
As my colleagues and I build this exciting joint venture, we continue to discover how our universal birthright to experience and live from the state of Self Leadership can be realized in such very different environments. And every day, another few more pieces click into place:
1. A SCHOOL COUNSELOR tears up appreciating the positive intent of a student;
2. A TEACHER exhales when her longing and frustration are understood and validated;
3. AND A STUDENT, once thought to be difficult, is truly seen through the masks of her parts, for who she truly is at her core: a fundamentally worthy human being who is trying her very best.
Now imagine the cumulative, growing effect!
Leading Learning from Self:A Teacher’s Journey
In numerous places around the world, members of our IFS community are exploring how to introduce and implement the wisdom of IFS in our schools. In Connecticut, we are currently piloting a Self leadership approach in three schools: in elementary, middle, and high school. This effort, supported through a generous grant from the Foundation for Self Leadership, involves training for the whole staff in core concepts of the Model, as well as in-depth workshops for smaller ambassador groups of educators. As we experiment and explore the most powerful ways for Self leadership to benefit in a school setting, many educators are stepping forward with specific stories of how this work is taking root in their school and in their lives. One such dedicated and inspiring teacher is Dr. Melissa Zych, a music teacher at Charter Oak International Academy in West Hartford, CT.
My introduction to the IFS Model was through a course offered for educators at Central Connecticut State University. I was a little apprehensive at first, as I heard one of my colleagues talking about parts and she tried to explain it to me, but it didn’t make sense at all. I was scared to go into something blind, but I had many reasons that brought me to the table.
I’ve spent the last 24 years focused on teaching through a social justice lens in a Title I school. Recently, I earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership and felt a growing curiosity about how my work could benefit a larger number of students and teachers. During this same period, I read professional journals and attended much professional development that was grappling with the issues of trauma, student dysregulation, and teacher burnout. The more I read and reflected on these issues, the more I realized that the way we were teaching and managing behaviors for the past 20 years needed to change. When I heard about the IFS for educator’s series, I felt like it was worth trying to see if it could help our students and teachers. I had no idea how much it would not only transform my teaching, but profoundly shift my understanding and experience of myself.
After working on using parts language with family members and trying to lead from Self, I felt like I was ready to try it out on students. My first interaction came at an unexpected time when I didn’t have students, but was called to a nearby classroom to help. There was a student who was underneath a table and refused to come out. When I arrived, I opened the door and quietly signaled for him to come into the hallway, which he did right away. At first, I reacted habitually telling him that he needed to follow directions. Then I remembered what I was learning. I paused for a moment and took a deep breath. I told him that it looked like a part of him was very upset (he was crying and breathing hard) and wondered if he could tell me what was going on. He explained that he was mad because the teacher, a substitute, was not following the routine of the class and that he felt like things were out of control.
I told him that I realized how hard it can be to have someone different and new that didn’t know the way things usually go. “It can be so frustrating,’’ I said. After this acknowledgement of the part that felt mad, I asked him if he could identify other parts of him. He told me about his calm part. I asked him if he thought that the calm part could take over for him. “Like maybe, your frustrated and upset parts could sit down and chill out with a popsicle for a while, and then you could get back to them later.” He agreed that this calm part would probably be a better fit for the work he needed to complete. Keep in mind that I never talked to this student about parts prior to this interaction—and he totally got it! Thank you, IFS! It was good to have this positive experience to build and reflect on.
I progressed experimenting with how to bring the understanding of parts to my classes. I wanted students to appreciate and start to speak for their parts. One day, a class entered that was especially dysregulated and I realized that they needed me to be real about what was happening in that moment. I began by asking “What different parts do you see in me?” They described me better than I could’ve done myself!
In addition to discussing parts of me they know well, such as my enthusiasm and wanting to do a good job, they recognized the part of me that gets frustrated. This opened a discussion about my part’s positive intent—wanting them to be focused for learning— but how this part doesn’t always speak in a way that’s helpful. They got it and could relate to this too! I shared how knowing my parts helps me unblend a bit so it’s not just one part in control. In that way, I am more balanced and that can make me a better teacher for them. And amazingly, this not only taught them about their parts, but completely engaged and calmed the whole class!
My biggest take away on this IFS journey so far has been that if I wanted my kids to be more Self led, I had to learn to lead from my best Self. It was uncomfortable to begin with, but I have fully embraced the process. IFS is not a formula, a list, or a quick-fix solution. It is deep. IFS has enabled me to get to know myself, understand why and under what circumstances certain parts come up, how to unblend, and how to get back to my best Self. I am more able to view my parts with curiosity and compassion.
So, what might this mean for our lives as educators and for our schools? The more I watch the magic of IFS unfolding in my life and at my school, the more I appreciate the unique and powerful keys it gives us to address our core challenges and fundamental needs. It offers healing for trauma, calm for dysregulated students, renewal for stressed educators, and a vision of hope that our schools can truly be places joyfully for our next generation of leaders.
Written by Melissa Zych, EdD
This stick figure was used during our first finding our parts exercise. The parts around the figure were the descriptions that the students, ages 9 – 10 years old, gave to name Melissa’s parts.
Parents, Children, and Teachers Learning Inside and Out
Having provided therapy for adults, children, families, and couples, as well as directing a corporate and school consultation and training service for over thirty years as Chief Psychologist at Trinitas Regional Medical Center, Rodger Goddard, PhD, possesses a deep understanding of what works and what does not when it comes to parents, children, and teachers. His school programs have particularly focused on assisting teachers help challenged students overcome difficulties to succeed. In 2011, he became engrossed with IFS when a colleague attracted his interest in the Model. The premise that all parts are good and that parts can heal and grow through their relationship with our core Self resonated deeply with Rodger. “I see the Model as profound in helping us to not be taken over by mission obsessed parts, and not get triggered by the parts of others but rather to see past another’s parts to their core Self,” he reflects.
Inspired by his own inner work and that of his clients, Rodger assimilated what he has learned over the years and wrote a series of books, which has received a positive reception. The IFS Teacher Manual: A Training Handbook for Using Internal Family Systems to Improve Teacher Effectiveness and Student Success supplies teachers with an approach to enjoy teaching more, see students in helpful new IFS ways, reduce stress, instruct students in the IFS life view, and improve student school success. The book explains IFS to teachers and provides worksheets for teachers to use on their own and with their students. “IFS is particularly useful in schools because so many students today have difficulties that get in the way of their success,” he reports. Lesson plans, instructions, and worksheets help students engage their Core Self, improve their learning skills, and deal better with the intense emotions that children and teens have that can get in the way of learning. The worksheet example below illustrates the simple, yet profound, effect that being guided to work with emotions might have on a student, parent, or teacher.
Having Good Parts RADAR:
R: RECOGNIZE AND NAME IT
What part tends to take you over?
A: ASK MANY QUESTIONS
What questions are most important to ask your part, particularly about its origins?
D: DISCOVER WHAT IT MOST FEARS AND WANTS
Ask your part what he or she most fears and needs.
A: ALTERNATE BETTER STRATEGY
Dialogue with your part to come up with a much better way of getting what it wants and avoiding what it fears.
R: REVISED NEW ROLE
Ask your part what new role it would like to take on.
“My work with teachers has taught me that they need straight forward, easy to use, techniqueoriented approaches that contain an immediate benefit to them. They do not have the time to invest in anything that distracts them from doing the best job they can under tremendous pressure, demands, and time constraints,” he says.
Knowing that teachers are overwhelmed, stressed, and tend to reject “each year’s new educational fad of the year instituted by their districts,” Rodger adapted new strategies most useful to them. “My work with teachers has taught me that they need straight forward, easy to use, technique-oriented approaches that contain an immediate benefit to them. They do not have the time to invest in anything that distracts them from doing the best job they can under tremendous pressure, demands, and time constraints,” he says.
To help teachers in using IFS with their students and in providing family therapy, he became aware that it was also very important to have a resource for parents to enrich themselves and their children with the help of the Model. Similar worksheets are supplied in The IFS Parent Manual: Using Internal Family Systems to Build Your Child’s School and Life Success.
This book assists parents to reduce their stress and elicit their child’s emotional wisdom and Core Self. The book builds parent and child use of IFS, helps children gain from the perspective, improves parent child interactions, heals parent and child parts, and engages everyone’s Core Self. Rodger has found it useful to adjust some of the language and metaphors for children. For example, the metaphor of a sports team coach or rock band leader as Core Self, who must deal with all kinds of athletes, musicians, and personalities, and the term ‘Smart Self’ has improved students’ understanding of the Core Self.
Fully equipped to promote the useful tenets of the Model, Rodger joins the Foundation IFS-in- Schools Advisory Team this year. We are pleased to benefit from his years of experience. IFS directly supports the five key areas of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs mandated by most states. He is very excited that in addition to delivering the IFS Model to teachers, parents, and students in elementary to 12th grade, he has recently been involved in having teachers instruct preschool (kindergarten and pre-kindergarten) children in understanding their emotions, parts, and Core Self by adapting the IFS Model to their level of knowledge. In addition to his work with parents, children, and teachers, he has also utilized IFS in his work as chief psychologist with psychology interns, psychiatric residents, patients and others at Trinitas. He has likewise created the IFS Deck of Playing Cards, beneficial to all, especially couples. The cards and other books by Rodger can be found on Amazon.com and on the IFS Institute’s website.
For more information or to contact Rodger, please visit his website or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. __MLG
Integrating IFS into Medicine and Medical Education
Lou Lukas, MD, Chief of Palliative Medicine at the Nebraska and Western Iowa Veterans Health Care System and Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, believes that IFS can help physicians heal themselves so that they can serve their patients more fully.
After 20 years in academic medicine, she reflects that most trainees enter medicine eager and optimistic, but with little knowledge of their inner systems. Workaholic managers, vicious critics, and savior parts are often responsible for earning acceptance to medical school. But as academic demands collide with long work hours and exposure to patient suffering, underlying shame, worthlessness, and inadequacy become more intense and those protective parts get more extreme. Even well balanced and insightful trainees leave training with scars.
Lou points to how her Level 1 training transformed her practice. “Quite honestly, I found that I could sit comfortably with patients who used to drive me crazy; I thought their behaviors and reactions were judgments of my work. I learned that they were usually just the patient’s protective parts at work, not threats to my competence. Unburdening my own exile that carried worthlessness didn’t hurt either,” she describes. Decoupling her sense of adequacy from her patients’ reactions allowed her to remain in Self energy and extend more Self toward their system, creating a beneficent cycle that facilitated their healing and her work satisfaction.
Practicing palliative medicine, Lou finds that serious, life threatening illnesses can elicit everyone’s parts and that the patient, the family, and the medical team all have strong reactions to decline, loss, and impending death of the body. This creates bad chemistry for good decisions. Many physicians become frustrated when patients change their minds about their treatment choices, but she sees this as the inevitable expression of the patient’s multiplicity. “We listen to the voice of the first or loudest part, which tends to be a protective manager, and that voice is rarely the one speaking for the patient’s deepest values,” she shares. Diffusing that first defensive part can make room to explore polarities that drive the change in plans. Patients can have a part frightened of dying and another exhausted by living; or they may be feeling guilty for being a burden to their families, while simultaneously enjoying the heightened attention they are receiving from family members. IFS provides tools for better decision making and deeper healing.
Lou emphasizes that the benefits of IFS extend well beyond conversations and decisions. She uses it regularly to manage symptoms. Parts are easy to find in the body and following portions of the IFS protocol can lead to deep insights that allow the system to relax and reorganize. “I’ve certainly seen dramatic impact on symptoms, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we could use IFS to treat the disease itself. Parts are the voices of neurologic networks that are connected to immunologic and endocrinological functions throughout the body, so it makes sense that working with parts has the potential to alter the response to disease,” she postulates.
Lou’s work in academic medicine provides her with the opportunity to teach medical residents about multiplicity of mind and the introductory elements of the Model. For example, knowing that people may have more than one part active can be invaluable for doctors when faced with aggressive patients or family members, as it allows for a reframe in terms of understanding the protective parts. “I try to help my learners really love up those angry parts and show compassion for what are commonly seen as annoying managers who try to control everything,” Lou says. Rather than being threatened and backing away from strong emotions, they can respond with some direct access (e.g. “I can see how passionate you are about your mom’s medical care, I totally understand that you’d be angry… Let’s just slow down a little so we can appreciate how hard you’ve been working and how overwhelming this is.”) This makes space for the frightened or grieving parts hiding in the shadows to be witnessed. The theoretical components and practical applications of the Model have been well received, with medical trainees expressing that they can “hear their patients better, solve problems more quickly, and communicate more clearly with both patients and their family members.”
With all of the benefits the IFS can bring to medicine, Lou hopes to work with the IFS Institute to develop training specifically for medical practitioners—not necessarily to become therapists—but to allow them to become “IFS-informed medical practitioners” who exhibit Self energy and who can recognize and work with parts as they present in the medical setting. Those wanting to get in touch with Lou about her work can contact her at email@example.com.__SD.
An IFS Institute Update
Editors’ note: As part of our collaborative efforts with IFS Institute, OUTLOOK intends to keep the community informed about current endeavors the Institute has been or is engaged in. The Foundation remains appreciative of our teamwork. Join us in learning what is new from the Institute. __MLG
Deran Young, LCSW, has joined as the IFSI Online Ambassador. In her role, she will lead and facilitate IFSI’s social media groups and platforms, provide new content for those groups, and promote IFSI’s trainings, online programming, etc. Deran also works closely with IFSI on proactive measures to increase and enhance IFS community and leadership diversity.
Frank Anderson, MD, has recently become the IFSI Program Consultant. As part of his role, Frank will include online program development, IFS Online programming delivery, and will consult with IFSI leadership on content development and implementation.
Black Therapists RockTM (BTR) and Project ECHO in Calvert County, Maryland have been awarded assistance for IFS L1 training through the Institute’s Organizational Training Program (OTP). BTR, featured in the April 2019 edition of OUTLOOK, is a non-profit with a mission to increase awareness of the social and psychological issues impacting marginalized communities and reducing barriers that prevent emotional healing.
Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), is a collaborative model of medical education and care management that empowers clinicians everywhere to provide better care to more people, right where they live. The ECHO model™ does not actually provide care to patients. Instead, it dramatically increases access to specialty treatment in rural and underserved areas by providing front-line clinicians with the knowledge and support they need to manage patients with complex conditions.
Luis Vega Sorrosal has been retained as the new IFSI International Training Director. He is responsible for the coordination of the Institute’s international training programs and the corporate development of the Institute outside the USA and Canada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Continuing apace, much like in 2019, the Institute will continue to increase L1 trainings by 50% in 2020, followed by another 50% increase in 2021, as the demand for IFS continues to proliferate.
The most apparent change many of you will have seen is the Institute’s new website, which went live in January 2020. For over 15 years, therapists, clients, and curious onlookers surfed the former Center for Self Leadership’s website, www.selfleadership.org (now hyperlinked to the new). Visit the new fresh look.
Separate & Together
What is the difference between the Foundation and the Institute?
The Foundation for Self Leadership and IFS Institute are engaged in significant efforts, with great common determination and towards a shared vision: to facilitate Self-discovery and promote Self leadership across the world. Yet, they have separate and independent legal, fiscal and governance systems.
The Foundation for Self Leadership, creator of OUTLOOK, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to supporting robust research to establish IFS as evidence-based, broadening access to IFS in ommunities otherwise underserved by IFS, and expanding the outreach and advocacy of IFS across the globe. The Foundation was established in 2013.
IFS Institute is dedicated to ensuring consistency in the education of the IFS Model. The Institute, while originally called The Center for Self Leadership (CSL), which was established in 1985 and is home to all formal IFS in-person trainings and online programs, hosts the annual conference, and manages a growing store and resources.
A COMMUNITY Safe Haven IN ISRAEL
Editors’ note: Amid routine violence, a group of individuals find sanctuary and solace with the help of Nitsan Joy Gordon, MA, founder and director of Together Beyond Words (TBW). A non-profit organization dedicated to empowering Arab and Jewish women, reducing prejudice, and promoting peacebuilding in Israel, TBW has offered services since 2003. OUTLOOK first introduced readers to Nitsan and TBW in the October 2015 edition. Here, we feature the expansion of IFS healing in Israel through Nitsan’s work.
Applying her training in dance/movement therapy and drama, Nitsan brings play and creativity to participants in three groups with IFS as the foundation. Very experiential, each group includes body work, live IFS demonstrations, practice in triads, as well as didactic instruction. Of the many subjects Nitsan helps people understand are working with managers and firefighters, befriending exiles, getting to know legacy burdens, having Self led conversations in difficult moments, and working with polarized parts, to name a few. Through this process, participants have come to deeply appreciate Nitsan and IFS. “You put us back together. Now we feel our own and each other’s pain, but our hearts are not shattered, they feel whole,” shares Rivi, a 27-year old student of the Heart of Our Stories Program.
The Heart of Our Stories program is designed to reduce prejudice, combat racism, and enhance genuine, vibrant, empathic collaborations between Arab and Jewish students in colleges and universities in Israel. Drawing on Playback Theatre, facilitation skills, and emotional work, the group will hold twenty performances and workshops for nearly 1,200 Arab and Jewish students in colleges and universities around the country in the 2019 – 2021 academic years. The goal is to enhance empathy towards the narrative of the “other,” strengthen the voice and leadership of women and men working for social change in the public sphere, and to showcase the possibility that rather than negating each other, everyone’s narratives can coexist peacefully. Half-way through the year, the response of the students and audiences has been incredibly positive.
In the 2200-year old town of Zefat, for over five years religious and spiritual Jewish women have gathered monthly as part of Sparks, a group intended for personal, emotional, and spiritual healing work and for building an openhearted community. While IFS and Expressive Arts are at the center of the Sparks courses and workshops led by Nitsan, the parallels to Kaballah are drawn out clearly. Nitsan quotes the Holy Ari when she explains, “According to Kabbalah, every person can liberate and raise up the sparks associated with the root of her or his soul. And, as each of us redeems those sparks, they’re drawn to a great light that expresses our humanity and our partnership in Tikkun Olam, a term for repairing or healing the world.” Liberating and raising sparks is the work we are actually doing through IFS and Expressive Arts, Nitsan shares.
IFS teaches us to pay attention to our bodies when possible as a starting point for identifying a part to work with. Following a session, we return to check if anything has shifted within the physical location of that part. Another Kabbalah Master, the Baal Shem Tov, (1700-1760), father of the Hassidic movement, taught the importance of our bodies, appreciation of nature, the expression of joy, and all our thoughts and feelings being included in our spiritual practice. We ourselves have found that bringing the body through expressive movement and drama enriches the participant’s understanding of the IFS process in a group setting, while also promoting Self qualities such as creativity, compassion, courage, clarity, confidence, and connectedness.
Due to the transformations that have occurred in the Sparks group, Nitsan also holds a bi-weekly group called IFS Intensive for Daily Life for eight regular members. This group shares the same intention as the Sparks group, but there is more room for an individual in-depth process based on the 5-steps of an IFS session. In addition and with the support of Hagit Zeev, LMFT, an IFS therapist from California, Nitsan recently completed a mini-documentary about the group which offers a small taste of this profound and beautiful complexity. Click here to view the mini-documentary.
Nitsan has enjoyed creating these safe havens where all parts are welcome and feelings can be felt and transformed with the support of a caring community. For more information on these groups or Together Beyond Words, please visit www.en.beyondwords.org.il. She can be reached at Nitsan9@gmail.com or 972.495.70481. __MLG
Share Qualities of Self Leadership
with Greeting Cards & Posters
Get your beautifully designed greeting cards and posters that express qualities of Self (the beloved 8Cs) as a conversational piece or an invitation to inner wisdom. Produced by the Foundation.
Available through the online IFS Store.
$20 for each card-packet (set of eight cards with all Cs, with white envelopes)
$20 for poster (in a mailing tube) Proceeds, minus shipping and handling, go to the Foundation.
Posters. Put one up in your office or place it in the lobby or behind you when you’re on your video session. Use it as a prompt for you or your client. (Specs: 18x24 Cultivate Self Leadership poster, depicting the 8Cs)
Greeting Cards. Use them to write notes for clients, friends, or family. Give them as gifts. (Specs: 4.25x5.5 set of 8, one for each C, blank on the inside; “Find a way to peace & harmony. Discover Self.” on back.)
Write us at Outreach@FoundationIFS.org with “Poster” in the subject line.
(Processing and fulfillment of cards and posters are managed through a third-party entity.)
It Takes a Village
Editor’s Note: The pathways that led each of us to IFS are varied, as may be the places to which we each choose to take it. Whether practiced on ourselves or applied in our myriad professions, or both, Self leadership’s impact is palpable. Once we have embarked upon our Level 1, we learn IFS both in theory and in practice from the trainers and staff in those special rooms as well as through being clients. It can be easily missed, at least initially, that trainers equally model the Model—demonstrating what it looks like to unblend from parts, to be in Self speaking for parts, and to take “you-turns.” With long and often intense days, participants rarely have time to get to know the training staff personally. Here in OUTLOOK, we share with you the lives of IFS trainers who give so much of their time and energy towards a Self led world. The ripples of their teachings travel farther than they will ever know. We thank each of them. Please meet Co-Lead Trainer Rina Dubin, EdD.
Meet Rina Dubin
Like many of us who heard about IFS, then began taking workshops and trainings upon trainings and forming a deep appreciation of the Model, Rina Dubin, EdD, followed a similar route. Rina’s initial step on that journey began during an IFS immersion week at the Cape Cod Institute in 2004. This led to another week at Kripalu about a year later. Having trained in EMDR and developed an appreciation of the technique of that model, followed by experiential weeks of IFS, she keenly observed that IFS is more than a technique or “model”—it’s an approach for life. After taking her Level 1 in 2005-2006 with Toni Herbine-Blank, MS, RN, C-SP, and Mike Elkin, MA, LMFT, she volunteered as a program assistant (PA). She began to notice ways in which she was growing, along with her clients, as she used IFS. This inspired her to continue to learn and expand with IFS by continuing to PA from 2007 to 2011.
“I’ve had really wonderful mentors, most of who mentored by example and one or two who did so more directly. So, that was quite a team to have behind me...”
In 2010, she was asked to apply to become an assistant trainer (AT). “I felt that would be a good role for me because I have a mind that can organize and I like to support the lead trainer and staff. I also enjoy helping people and holding a roomful of people and their parts,” Rina reflects. In 2012, she began her first AT role with Ann Sinko, LMFT, and Ralph Cohen, PhD, LMFT in Connecticut and then did many rounds with Ann Sinko and Mike in Boston, Massachusetts. In her years as AT, she has also assisted Frank Anderson, MD; Kay Gardner, MS, LCPC; Paul Ginter, EdD; Toni Herbine-Blank; Pam Krause, MSW, LCSW; Mary Kruger, MS, LMFT; Paul Neustadt, MSS, LICSW; and Dick Schwartz, PhD, sometimes with multiple trainings going on in the same year. Rina has a strong appreciation for her colleagues. “I’ve had really wonderful mentors, most of who mentored by example and one or two who did so more directly. So, that was quite a team to have behind me,” she says.
While serving as a PA, she came to learn about the parts of her that kept her from stepping forward and taking a leading role. Having come from a family of teachers and activists, she had parts that wanted to take her passion for IFS and bring it to the world in bigger ways. Through her inner explorations with her polarized parts, she discovered the family dynamics and a few family legacy burdens that had prohibited her from being out front. Bringing forth the heirlooms from unburdening has enabled her passion for teaching IFS to shine through. “I come from ‘make the world better,’ and so this is my way of doing that,” she explains. Overlapping the PA role in official trainings, Rina also assisted Richard Schwartz during IFS workshops at Kripalu and the Esalen Institute, from 2007 through 2017.
As the demand for IFS mushroomed, so too did the need for more trainers. It was in 2018 that she stepped in as co-lead trainer with Mike Elkin. In that training, she was both AT and Co-LT, which felt like a natural bridge into the new role. Rina believes one of the benefits of having a Co-LT team is that participants are able to experience different teaching styles and see differences in live demonstration sessions during trainings. When asked what she most appreciates about IFS, she says, “I like that it gives us the technology to have difficult conversations. Those moments where we can step into having a difficult conversation are also often the very memorable points of shift, whether it’s a person with their parts or between two people in relationships. That’s exciting and important because it is crucial to have these skills as we’re in more polarized contentious times.”
A subject that is near and dear to Rina’s heart that facilitates having these difficult conversations is a concept called Self Led Feedback (SLF) which relies on the skill of speaking for parts.
While mostly self-explanatory, SLF is the practice of listening to someone speak, taking time inside to be with our parts that may have been triggered—first getting awareness of them, being in relationship with the raw nerve of what parts feel or believe, and then unblending from them—and returning to the conversation with some Self energy on board to speak for our parts about how what was said by the speaker landed for us, rather than blaming, criticizing, advice-giving, or care-taking the other person. This allows us to share impact and is information that is more about the giver than it is about the receiver, though it’s often helpful for the receiver. It means we can now speak to the other with some openness of heart (a good test). This, as you can imagine, takes time. It requires a degree of mindfulness and some ability to pause.
The practice of SLF used to be a staple of some home groups in many trainings and some trainers today attempt to utilize it at least within staff meetings with PAs. Rina first experienced SLF during her L1 home group with Bill Nagahiro, PhD, who was clear that the role of home groups is to help people speak for their parts. This is where the rubber meets the road, quite literally—the practicing of the Model in real-time of being with our triggered parts, unblending, returning to dialogue, and speaking for parts from Self. Doing so gives us the experience of stepping into courage and clarity, both as the giver and receiver, and adds a tremendous amount of safety. To the point of what has drawn her and others into both being a PA and learning IFS, Rina says, “This is one of the seductions that keep us coming back. We like the way that feels—it’s the embodiment on the way towards ‘all parts are welcome.’”
In addition to Rina’s training roles, she has an active practice in Boston with individuals and couples, provides online and live consultation groups for therapists, and has given workshops at the Annual IFS Conference. This past year she did an all-day workshop on building confidence and competence for PAs, which will be repeated this coming year in Denver, Colorado. Without official IFS Institute training for PAs, this workshop fills a much-needed gap for PA preparation and is appreciated by those who have already been a PA or are considering doing so. Rina’s workshop affords a jump-start into the role with some practice and consideration of parts that typically come up. The role of PA is a huge commitment, therefore finding the time to add training for PAs ahead of time is limited. It is hoped that in the future the Institute might offer such trainings for the PA role along with a certificate of competency.
Outside of work, Rina enjoys many rich relationships with friends and family, many of which either deepened or came through her contacts through the trainings and immersions. She is also looking forward to doing some travel overseas later in 2020. She really hopes the foundation and structure are in place so that IFS will continue to prosper and expand into more layers of society. She finds it very exciting to see how that has been happening over the past years. __MLG
Editor’s Note: As promised by the Institute, IFS trainings have increased significantly this past year and will continue to over the next few years. To meet this demand, a new group of trainers have been added to the ranks. Please welcome the following trainers.
Lead Trainers: Martina Beckhäuser
Assistant Trainers: Jory Agate, LMHC, MDiv; Kathy Cox, MSW; Terrilee (Terri) Dalton, PhD, LCSW, CADC; Marina Hassanali, MA, LMFT; Kristen Lundberg, LPC, LMFT; Leslie Petruk, MA, LPCS, NCC, BCC; Sue Richmond, LCSW; and Madeline Warren, LCPC, LMFT.
Stories of Transformation
Three Sisters Unburden Family Legacies
Editor’s Note: In September 2019, OUTLOOK featured our first collection of thirteen Stories of Transformation in a special edition insert. As part of the Foundation’s mission toward advocacy and outreach in expanding the reach of IFS within and beyond psychotherapy, we intend to inspire hope for readers of Stories of Transformation. We believe that narratives which showcase IFS healing encourage others to take similar healing steps, reassure others that they are not alone, and mount soft evidence to support research.
All stories in past editions of OUTLOOK have been related to personal burdens—those which we as individuals acquire due to our own direct experience. (For example, one may feel a burden of worthlessness because they were told over and over that they “are good for nothing.”) The following is a special collection of three sisters’ legacy unburdening processes, which shared a similar origin. Legacy burdens are those we acquire from others’ experiences, most often our family of origin. (For example, one may feel a burden of worthlessness despite receiving good parenting because it was indirectly communicated from a parent’s sense of worthlessness.) Essentially, this involves carrying the burdens of others. Releasing of any kind of burden naturally frees up energy inside ourselves, but when legacy burdens are released, they free up energy in the family line—in both directions. We hope you enjoy this family anthology. To share your story, contact Michelle Glass at OUTLOOK@FoundationIFS.org.
Malki, Esta, and Shayna are three sisters and the daughters of a Chassidic rabbi. Living in America and Israel, one thing that connects them is their commitment to help others, primarily from an IFS parts-work perspective. They each are passionate to spread the word about the great potential for psychospiritual growth inherent in the IFS Model and are in the middle of the IFS certification process. Malki treats a wide variety of issues ranging from mood disorders to relationship issues to personality issues, including scrupulosity (see Healing Where Angels Fear to Tread: IFS and Scrupulosity on p. 22). She often finds these issues to be rooted in developmental trauma, a complex issue for which IFS promises deep and lasting healing. Shayna’s work with clients focuses on women in abusive marriages. And Esta’s work centers on parenting with both external and internal children. While the origin of their legacy burdens was the same—their grandmother’s 52 Candles lighting ritual—they each expressed the burden in their own unique ways. The three vignettes illuminate both the power of legacy and of healing. __MLG
As a deeply emotional and sensitive child, I longed for my mother to soothe my aching heart, to recognize my feelings and hold them with me. A treasure of a woman, special in many ways, Mom simply refused to do so, leaving me feeling ashamed and unworthy. From this, I developed a “Little Scared Girl” (LSG) part who believed, “I am too emotional. I am too much” and who was terribly afraid of being judged. As I grew, I also developed a strong protective manager part, “Stay Safe,” that pushed me to do everything right to protect LSG from judgment.
Before I took my IFS Level 1 training, my mom visited for a few weeks. Throughout her stay, I repeatedly turned to her, vying for compassion for some life challenges that I was then facing. I described just how much I deserved her compassion, to no avail and much heartache. I wasted precious moments with Mom engaged in this pointless endeavor.
During my L1 training, the invitation came for a demo. My hand shot up. My Inquisitive Intellectual Part squealed, “Go for it! Squeeze every last bit of learning out of this experience!” But Stay Safe warned, “NO, NO, NO! Are you crazy? How can you make yourself so vulnerable?” And Little Scared Girl began trembling. Mary, the trainer, asked if this part could be calmed, but this was impossible, and so the session began.
LSG shared a kaleidoscope of childhood scenes filled with social rejection, inadequacy, and shame. She was supposed to be like her big sister: quiet, studious, responsible, very good, and not at all needy. Instead, her nose was always running, her socks were twisted, and she was disorganized, couldn’t focus, was too exuberant. “I am too much and not enough,” she shared. LSG saw no way out of her dilemma—to be Malki or to be safe.
LSG needed Mommy to soothe her. She was lost, all alone with her painful feelings. She felt like they would engulf her and swallow her alive. She wanted Mommy to sit with her pain. But Mommy wouldn’t go there. Ever. Mommy would say, “G-d is good. Stop complaining. Stop scratching your wound. It will get so big, it will take over.” Then Mary asked, “Can Big Malki tell LSG why Mommy just couldn’t be there for her?”
Big Malki explained, “This is not about you, little one. Mommy was a child of Holocaust survivors. Her mother’s entire extended family was shoveled into crematoria. Each Friday evening, Grandma would light 52 Sabbath candles, one for each of her loved ones who were murdered by Hitler. Grandma would wail aloud as she cried out their names, one by one. It was too much pain for Mommy to hold. Mommy loves you and cares for you deeply, but feelings were too big and scary for her. The only way she could deal with her pain in the face of Grandma’s incomprehensible loss was to disconnect from it and focus solely on G-d’s goodness. That’s why she couldn’t join you there. But I can hold your pain. You can sit with me.”
LSG remembered Grandma’s candle lighting, and she felt the truth—it was not about her, and it never had been. Her eyes round and mouth open, she asked, “If Mommy cannot help me hold my pain, what should I do with it?” Big Malki invited LSG to return the pain to its rightful owner. LSG pondered shooting it back at Hitler. But she didn’t want to shoot. LSG remembered learning that when the temple in Jerusalem was burning, the priests who were entrusted with the keys threw them skyward, and a heavenly hand reached down and collected them. She threw her burden up with the keys. It felt like a very safe place. From deep within, a voice said, “It’s okay.”
LSG reclaimed her license to be Malki—to exist. She cried for Mommy’s pain. Mary said, “Maybe Mommy would like to let go of what she is carrying as well?” LSG felt compassion for Mommy and wondered, “Can Mommy truly let it go? I’ll pray for her. I care for her so deeply.” Finally, Mary said, “Until we can come back to visit, invite her to be with you.” LSG came to Big Malki’s heart, bringing along the 52 candles. She decided that was the best place for them.
A while later, Mom visited again. I noticed that while I still wished that she could understand and bear witness to my pain, I could contain myself and even extend compassion to her. I feel so blessed with the quality of our together time since unburdening this legacy burden. What a gift!
My legacy burden and the ensuing transformation revolved around a long-standing detente with my dear husband and his need for me to look “good” and the 25-year battle that ensued. Considering my strong people pleaser part, I was confused as to what made satisfying him so difficult for me. Something was standing in my way, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. Although I have a pretty good sense of style, I just found myself constantly unable to pull it together, get my hair set, apply makeup, buy a new pair of shoes and handbags to match my outfits, and so on. All it took was for my husband to make some comment to get my Very Hurt Exile’s Great People Pleaser Protector fired up and into action—to once again make some short-lived attempt, only to abandon it soon after.
During my IFS Level 2 training, I decided to work with the parts that came up around this issue. There were quite a few—the confused, frustrated, hurt, righteous, and self-righteous parts... And then some legacy burdens showed up.
I was transported into a scene in my late teens. While shopping, my father told me, “You are not a clothes horse,” with obvious disdain for clothes horses. The message running through mine and my sister’s upbringing was:
You are so much more than a cook, a domestic, a clothes horse. Don’t value yourself by these limiting chauvinistic measures. You are a being with a brain. You can think. Your brain is what is important. You would have no problem getting into Harvard—why would you want to get stuck in your wardrobe? You want to live a life of meaning!
And then, I remembered Mom’s message acquired from her mother’s 52 Candles lighting ritual with active mourning making it too great for her to move on to typical life. The message defined meaning, as an intense and demanding call to action:
Life is much too important to waste on inanities. There is a reason you are here. Six million died. You have a responsibility to live a life of meaning and consequence—a G-dly life, after the near decimation of our nation by Hitler and Nazi Germany.
Some of this legacy was a true gift. It was so empowering. I was a human being, not a human doing. I was inherently valuable and capable. I was not inhibited by toxic, chauvinistic messages such as “Women cannot do or achieve certain things, like becoming a doctor” or “A woman’s place is in the kitchen.” But what about the parts of the legacy that were incredibly burdensome that rendered my people pleaser impotent and got in my way?
I came to understand the legacy burden as the extreme feelings and beliefs I used to carry. Yes, I am more than just a domestic or a baker. And yes, I do want to expend my energy commemorating and continuing the vision and life goals of the six million who perished. I realized that desire doesn’t have to be carried out in the manner in which it was “gifted” to me by this legacy. I will choose and find my way to commemorate their deaths by my living, and it will be a way that allows me to function well and fully in my life.
My transformation was nuanced. Rather than returning the burden in its entirety, I kept that which was valuable to me and passed back the extreme and negative dimensions that had been challenging my marriage.
How much can I willingly, graciously stretch myself to satisfy my husband and attend to his needs given my limited personal interest? For me, the transformation lies in the knowledge that this is a relational issue and one that I can address so much more effectively when I’m not weighed down by the extreme beliefs of legacy burdens. My helpless and confused parts have quieted down. My self-righteous part has retired from the job entirely. When this issue does come up, I am able to stay more in Self, in compassion and connection to my husband’s needs and my own. We can even sometimes laugh about this issue together, seeing the players more clearly in the background.
I clearly see myself as a bearer of my family legacies in my life. After having raised my family, I returned to school and became a therapist devoted to raising awareness of emotional health issues in the community. I run parent education classes, and I am advocating to open a mothering center where new mothers learn how to create the environment and connection with their children that promote healthy development.
You know how there is this one story from childhood that defines how you operate in the world? My story goes back to the first grade. After my second-grade sister had an ‘accident’, I took matters into my own hands and procured her a new pair of panties from the pre-school that was on a different floor and which we were not allowed to visit without permission. Never mind all that. I had to make sure the people I loved were okay. This drive has continued throughout my life. I was unaware of what drove me to care for people in this way until IFS Level 1 training.
After a demo session by Lead Trainer, Osnat Arbel, PhD, LMFT, our group felt the urge to applaud the bravery and transformative work of our colleague, but were stopped from doing so at her request that we put aside our therapist parts and only address her demo academically. Needless to say, there was little feedback to the emotional journey we had just witnessed and much turmoil in the after-class discussion; hurt parts had been activated in us all.
The following day, our colleague tearfully remonstrated the group for not having been responsive enough with our feedback. While the members of the group were devastated and apologetic, my ‘Excuse Me!’ part was activated! How was she the victim? Why did the entire class have to feel bad?
After a similar episode, I approached the second Lead Trainer, Einat Bronstein, MSW, LCSW. Crying, I shared that I was very triggered that people were getting hurt during this training. When she asked the question: “What will happen if people get hurt?” a protector part of me said, “Life is over. It’s death!” The part then led me to a memory.
It was Friday night. My maternal grandmother Babby Toronto lights a table covered with 52 Sabbath candles. Weeping, she cries out the names of her family lost in the Holocaust: Esther, Duvid, Menashe Mechel, mother, father, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, aunts…
The part shows me this curly haired toddler, hands outstretched and frozen, trapped in this moment of her beloved grandmother’s pain. Such immense pain for a wee one to bear, I cry with Toddler part, witnessing her sadness. The Self offers a resource to the Toddler part: “Everyone survives the suffering. Even Grandma survived unimaginable pain. Sometimes she even laughed and enjoyed life. It’s not the end of the story, just a part of it.”
When Einat asked what burden would she like to get rid of, suddenly the toddler’s hands are filled with stones. When I ask the Toddler part where she would like to put those stones the answer is immediate. “The diamond mines!” The Diamond Mines is a chapter title from a favorite childhood book, The Little Princess, which at once symbolizes intense suffering and ultimate redemption. For the Toddler part, it seemed the perfect place where boundless suffering can be contained.
As the toddler entered the mines, I saw we were actually in the sapphires mines. Jewish tradition asks: What was the higher purpose to the special punishment meted out to the Jewish slaves in Egypt, of them having to gather the basic materials to make the bricks with which to build Pithom and Ramses? The answer given was that through this intense suffering the Jews were actually gathering and crafting precious bricks of sapphire that G-d was storing beneath His Heavenly Throne. Through the personal growth earned from hardships, the Jewish People were earning the Tablets of the Ten Commandments fashioned from those very sapphires of suffering.
With Self as a witness, the toddler entered this hall of suffering/sapphires with her legacy burden of sadness. The sapphires in the room took the shape of all the sufferings I knew my nation, going backwards, as well as forwards in time, carried—suffering too huge for a toddler to carry. The toddler unburdened the stones of needing to protect adults from suffering and of carrying the tears of a people, placing them reverently into that room. Then she left with me out into the sunshine.
I still revisit that room of sapphires when the toddler feels the pain of others. I hold her and we do some self-compassionate breathing. We know we’re no longer trapped in a void of purposeless pain but are in a vanguard of transformation. This realization and unburdening have made the legacy burdens so much easier to bear. Instead of drowning in the pain of the world, all triggered parts are encircled in a loving embrace from Self and there is so much more compassion available to my parts and the parts of others.
Today, I try to take care from my Joyful part and Self, neither having a driving urgency. When my anxious toddler part steps in, I’m able to introduce more humor and compassion into the situation. And if necessary, there is always the room of sapphires.
Fantastic Foundation Friday 2019
Record-breaking turnout for first-time attendees, in addition to record overall attendance, made for a very engaging experience at the Annual IFS Conference’s debut in Denver, Colorado in September 2019. Foundation Friday once again afforded connections, old and new, within an ever-growing community of therapists, practitioners, and individuals applying IFS.
For the past six years, Foundation Friday has been a day dedicated to sharing with conferees community, fellowship, and information about the latest developments across the Foundation’s programs and activities.
The support and collaboration of staff at IFS Institute (the Foundation’s conference host and one of its crucial sponsors) made the day’s events possible. The Institute remains a vital member of a three-way partnership promoting global self-awareness and healing through IFS: you, the IFS community; the Institute; and your Foundation. To that end, Foundation Friday continues to build and strengthen community connections and collaborations.
Executive Director, Toufic Hakim, PhD, presented an invigorating address about recent Foundation highlights during the plenary on Friday morning (see the following article and watch full video at our YouTube channel or on our website).
Later, over 100 attendees joined the Foundation Board, staff and volunteers for an evening reception, and engaged in meaningful conversations around how to disseminate IFS across various professions and sectors of society. The festivities were kicked off with a surprise 70th birthday greeting for Richard Schwartz, PhD, and followed by an address from chair Harley Goldberg, DO, and Requina Barnes, LICSW. Those present visited Islands of Discovery, acquiring insight and appreciation of the Foundation’s accomplishments and ongoing endeavor, and donating along their way.
Research Island, hosted by Senior Research Manager Ilanit Tal, PhD, who shared the status of two funded research studies and the next priority of a Phase II randomized-controlled PTSD study that the Foundation intends to fund.
Education Island, hosted by Joanna Curry-Satori, LMFT, who presented updates on the newly Foundation-funded effort to bring IFS fully into three schools in Connecticut, USA.
Advocacy Island, hosted by Mark Milton, gathered input about ways to promote notions of IFS broadly among youth and adults.
Community Connections Island, hosted by Michelle Glass, Editor of OUTLOOK, imparted information regarding ways for new members to engage with the Foundation and how to subscribe to our magazine, encouraging one and all to Join the Movement (see p. 59).
Items such as Online Circle membership, L2 training, IFS videos and books, and a four-day cabin retreat in South Carolina, were given away to fortunate winners. The Foundation is grateful for the community’s generosity which contributed $6,959 towards further Foundation activities. Foundation-designed greeting cards, and posters featuring the IFS 8 Cs, titled “Cultivate SELF Leadership”, were available again for purchase at the Institute’s bookstore. Greeting cards and posters remain available on the Institute’s website. Please see p. 37 for more details.
Foundation Friday culminated in the production of Good Grief, an Everett Company production. The audience was captivated by performers who expressed a dynamic exploration of minds and bodies after enduring trauma, through dance, videography, and storytelling. This was made possible by a grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), along with matching funds from corporations and individuals, including David Medeiros, MSW, LICSW, who served as consultant to the performers. According to the Everett press release, “The artists used therapeutic approaches such as Internal Family Systems, EMDR, and dioramas to explore healing for their own life experiences. Onstage, they dive inward, uncover parts, slip into the unconscious, and look at the body made foreign and disconnected—all in search of a true self. In Good Grief, Everett presents a journey of fragmented memories, exiled parts, and the hope that dwells in a thriving imagination.”
The Foundation’s Board and staff thank the many volunteers involved, without whom the events could not have taken place: Pamela Krause, MSW, LCSW; Toufic Hakim, PhD; Michelle Glass, BA, Michele Bruce, BA; and Kelly Gaule (all of whom had served on the planning team), along with Rina Dubin, EdD; Julie Warren, LCSW-C; Irina Diyankova, PhD; Dana Rosenstein, LCSW-C; Molly Kellogg, LCSW; Sue Kazolia, LICSW; Jenny Fiebig, MS, LCPC; Carl Marcus, MS, MSS, LCSW; and Katherine McCamant; each of whom offered support for the setup and during the evening activities.
If you would like to volunteer your time and energy to Foundation Friday this year, please email Outreach@FoundationIFS.org. We look forward to seeing you at future Annual IFS Conferences. __MLG
Excerpts of Remarks by Executive Director Toufic Hakim, presented at the 2019 IFS Conference on behalf of the Foundation for Self Leadership
The IFS lens and language have uncovered for us a hidden path toward greater inner clarity and deeper fulfillment.
Through IFS, we gain a compassionate view of ourselves and others. Through IFS, we adopt a practice for becoming the best version of who we truly are. Such notions and experiences are too revealing and powerful to keep to ourselves, so we relay them to our clients and trainees, our families and colleagues.
The Foundation is here to magnify your efforts. We’re here to help deepen the value of IFS, broaden its reach, and shed light on the transformative qualities of Self leadership in the midst of life’s thickening dust.
By moving our collective IFS learnings and discoveries into the outside world, we inspire greater healing and well-being far and wide. In the chaos and confusion of our times, we must affirm the unshaken belief that human goodness and wisdom will get us through the suffering—only to emerge all the more resilient on the other side, our spirits unscathed, to paraphrase Gibran.
It is within this context and in this spirit that the Foundation is focused on enhancing the IFS Model’s scientific credibility, academic visibility, accessibility among underserved communities, and applicability across more and more professions and walks of life. Much has already been done by the Institute and this community, to be sure. Much has been done by the Foundation in the last six years, and much more needs to be done on your behalf to advance IFS research, service to communities in need, and advocacy.
1. Catalyzing independent, rigorous IFS research
remains the Foundation’s highest priority.
There is now a bit of empirical evidence out there,
and it is preliminary.
What is the efficacy of IFS in treating depression,
anxiety, and various forms of addiction? And how
can we prove it? Yes, we’ve all seen IFS work. Nonetheless,
soft evidence alone, however expansive, is
not compelling enough to university psychology researchers
or chairs of graduate programs; to medical
directors in Veterans Affairs and at VA centers; or to
behavioral health insurance managers. The pace at
which IFS expands and how it is sustained depend
on the prevalence of hard scientific evidence. Such
evidence will strengthen the position and deepen the
presence of IFS within psychotherapy and empower
With your support, the Foundation funded two studies
that show promising results (thank you to those
involved). Next, we must facilitate the design and
implementation of a Phase II randomized controlled
study of IFS as a treatment for PTSD and depression.
We need lead researchers; please help connect us.
We need IFS certified therapists to participate; we
invite you to join us. We need ample funding; help
fund us and connect us to funders.
2. The Foundation is highly committed to
serving communities in need, schools and
veterans’ groups among them.
To explore how IFS can help struggling veterans
is an obligation and needs no further explanation.
In terms of schools, envision with us teachers and
students empowered through the discovery of parts
and Self, helping them foster growth mindsets,
consistent with Carol Dweck’s urging. Imagine how
our own lives would have been today had we been
exposed to IFS early on!
The Foundation funded, with your support, an
immersive IFS experience for teachers in Minneapolis
(thank you, Jody Nelson and your team). This
project helped a few teachers shift their perspective,
and they are now inspiring 200 students yearly to
become calmer, more composed, and less reactive in
the face of adversity. And we’re launching, with generous
funding through Joy Shivas, former IFS Assistant
Trainer (thank you, Joy), a two-year program to
examine the concept of a total IFS-Model school, led
by Joanna Curry-Sartori and Anna Tansi, where IFS is
at the core of social emotional learning, teacher and
staff development, and policy design.
3. IFS outreach and advocacy are also
on our radar.
We need to continue introducing IFS in various
settings and continue gathering soft evidence
on how it may have transformed and can
Speaking of soft evidence, please grab a copy of
our tenth edition of OUTLOOK with its special insert
on Stories of Transformation. Read it. Share it.
Place it in your offices. There are gems in this issue.
The Foundation cannot pursue these priorities
without your engagement and support nor without
the success and support of the Institute. There is no
greater synergy or osmosis than in working together,
connected and interdependent: you, the IFS community,
the Institute, and the Foundation. We cheer
you on. We stand beside you or behind the scenes—
generating tailwind for you or, like an advance team,
exploring the possibilities ahead and securing
This Conference creates a safe and “brave space” for
us to learn and grow (to borrow the notion of brave
space from justice doula Micky ScottBey Jones). We
come together maybe to take respite from the world
outside. Maybe to recharge and pull each other up as
we do our own inner work. Or still maybe to sharpen
our saw, to quote Covey, so that we can go back out
and fix cracks in the sky—please tell Chicken Little
the sky is NOT falling!
And as we come together, we energize each
other’s enthusiasm for our shared vision of taking
the IFS paradigm, principles, philosophy, practice,
and protocol to the world. Empowering lives
through Self-discovery is our collective labor
of love. It’s a cause greater than each of us.
If we desire greater harmony and peace, inside us
and across the land, we’re called upon to join arms
and passions with one another to help our world
build the capacity to heal itself. The world may be
full of suffering; but even more notably, as Helen
Keller said, it is full of overcoming.
The Foundation fervently thanks its growing circle of donors and the IFS Institute (formerly CSL) for their annual giving. The Foundation’s priorities and accomplishments on behalf of IFS depend on, and can only result from, the continued engagement of the community.
GENERAL OBSERVATIONS: 2019 GIVING
Total of $322,495.86 (112% increase from 2018 total of $152,170.50)
From IFS Institute: $40,000
Three stock donations: total of $99,303.70
10 anonymous donations totaling of $110,175.46
From the Foundation’s Board: $8,533.13
Amazon Smile: $440.40 represents $88,080 in purchases benefitting the Foundation
61% ($197k) of total funds received are restricted to IFS in School, Good Grief Show and Phase II IFS Research projects
CIRCLE OF CHANGEMAKERS
CIRCLE OF VISIONARIES
CIRCLE OF LUMINARIES
CIRCLE OF ENTHUSIASTS
CIRCLE OF ADVOCATES
CIRCLE OF STEWARDS
CIRCLE OF FRIENDS
CIRCLE OF SUPPORTERS
For further details, please visit our website.
Please continue to support the Foundation.
If you believe that what the Foundation does benefit your practice, inspires you, and is aligned with your desire to do good in the world and for the world, please engage with the Foundation to heighten the potential for greater impact.
Give of your talent and time; volunteer. Facilitate connections for the Foundation with your local communities, universities, and philanthropists.
Support the Foundation financially: give what you can, annually or monthly ($20/month goes a long way; think of it as joining the World Emotional Fitness club). Please consider giving a multi-year pledge or place the Foundation in your estate planning. Make the Foundation one of your charities of choice.
Your funding will make it possible to gather a few more data points, bring Self leadership to one additional teacher, who will inspire 1,000 students to expand their minds, and maybe help one additional veteran.
The Foundation has the ideas and the people (you, the board, the staff); what is needed is funding—to build the systems and programs, to survive and thrive, to achieve far-reaching outcomes on your behalf and alongside you.
Board of Directors Update
The Foundation warmly welcomes Vicki J. McCoy, MA, member of the Board since 2017, as its next chair of the board of directors. Vicki is an Atlanta (Georgia, USA)-based organizational development consultant who specializes in executive coaching and team-building in the government sector nationwide. The Internal Family Systems/Self leadership model informs her work, as she believes self-understanding is the key to better decision-making, more compassionate leadership, and healthier organizations. She was raised “at the crossroads of the world” in the Canal Zone, Republic of Panama; her upbringing shaped her belief in the connectedness of all people and nations. Outside her professional engagement and volunteer work on behalf of the Foundation, she devotes her time to her family and dedicates the rest of it to her reading and writing. In recognition for their tireless efforts, with deep gratitude and appreciation for their dedication and leadership, the Foundation for Self Leadership acknowledges, fervently applauds, and sends a colorful bouquet of THANK YOU’s to Frank Anderson, MD, and Harley Goldberg, DO, for their service to the organization and IFS community.
Frank served as Chair (2013-2015), co-Executive Director, Development & Research (2016-2017), and Director for Research (2018-2019).
Harley served as member of the Board (2013-2015) and Chair (2016-2019).
Barbara Perkins, MA, recently joined the Foundation staff as Senior Development Associate. Working closely with the executive director, she provides guidance, support, and coordination for fundraising strategy and activities. She looks forward to advancing greater access to IFS by securing the charitable support needed to fund additional research and pilot projects.
Barbara has broad and deep experience with development and communications in the non-profit sector, specifically higher education, healthcare, human services, faith-based, and fine arts organizations. Her many accomplishments over the past two decades include record-setting annual giving programs, successful fundraising campaigns, and award-winning websites.
A long-time advocate for behavioral health, Barbara was introduced to IFS by practitioner and trainer Robin Spiro, LCSW. Barbara is on the journey toward Self leadership but already agrees with Jennifer Krug, PhD, who suggests that it belongs on the list of Exceptional Human Experiences.
Barbara has been practicing Iyengar yoga since 2003 and is pursuing her Master Gardener certification. She is a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity as well as a community garden that provides fresh produce for a local food pantry. Above all, she is grateful that her, now adult, son and daughter came into her life. She can be reached at Barbara@FoundationIFS.org.
Marilyn Hunt, LMFT, joined our team in January as Donor Steward. In this role she tracks donations to the Foundation and works closely with the controller, providing reports and ensuring accuracy in our accounting. Her career as a controller before becoming a therapist allows her to utilize skills seldom needed in her private practice. “I look forward to working with the amazing staff at the Foundation and investing in a cause I care about deeply,” she shares about her new role.
Introduced to IFS in graduate school in 2005, Marilyn completed Level 1 training in 2013. Taken with the Model, she completed Level 2 and 3 within the next year and became a certified IFS therapist thereafter. She enjoys being a program assistant and loves helping guide others in learning the Model. In her private practice, located in Lafayette, California, Marilyn sees mostly women of all ages with various levels of trauma. In addition, she works with many people who have experienced the death of a loved one. Working with therapists in either consultation or therapy who are interested in learning IFS from the inside out is an especially gratifying experience for her. She finds it a great privilege to take part in peoples healing journeys and witnessing the profound transformation that occurs through IFS.
In her spare time, Marilyn loves spending time outdoors, hiking with friends and family, being with animals of all sizes, and delights in her two adult sons. She and her husband have enjoyed exploring new hobbies as they adjust to emptynesting. Pottery is fun but Marilyn discovered she’s not a natural. She can be reached at Marilyn@FoundationIFS.org.
Michelle Glass, CIFSP, is an alternative counselor living in Eugene, Oregon, SoulCollage® facilitator, workshop presenter, and author of the well-received book Daily Parts Meditation Practice: A Journey of Embodied Integration for Clients and Therapists. She has been engaged in IFS for fifteen years, having been a client for many years before becoming a certified IFS practitioner.
She started with the Foundation in 2014, initially volunteering to build our donor database as the donor steward (now fulfilled by her friend and colleague Marilyn Hunt), as well as launching our inaugural bulletin, OUTLOOK. As demands of both positions increased, she was brought in as an associate.
Dedicated to the missions of the Foundation, Michelle aspires to expand the reach of IFS globally. Initially a twelve-page bulletin, OUTLOOK has transformed by her hands into a magazine brimming with rich articles and Stories of Transformation. “I have greatly enjoyed my roles with the Foundation. I continue to feel nourished through connecting with and getting to know members of our IFS community across the world. I’ve met many new friends in this way,” she reflects. “It’s enormously gratifying to work with my team: Toufic Hakim, PhD (Executive Director and Advisor); Shaun Dempsey, PhD (Assistant Editor); Sylvia Miller (Graphic Designer); Josh Lisojo, MS (Website Programmer and Developer); and proofers Kira Freed, MA, BCC, LPC (ret.); Brenda Hollingsworth MSW, LICSW; Karen Locke, MA; and Laura Taylor, JD. A round of applause to each!”
Outside of work, she enjoys writing, traveling the world, being near the ocean or any large body of water, and connecting with cherished friends and her new partner. She is taking a sabbatical in 2020 to write her next book. She looks forward to interfacing with the community virtually or at the annual IFS Conference. She can be reached at OUTLOOK@FoundationIFS.org.
Kira Freed, MA, BCC, LPC (ret.), is a Board Certified Coach and former Licensed Professional Counselor who holds an MA in Integral Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies and an MA in Anthropology from the University of Colorado-Boulder.
She completed the Levels 1-3 IFS trainings in 2007- 2009 and incorporates IFS into her part-time work with coaching clients. Kira is also an editor who has copy-edited three of Dick Schwartz’s books and has been a volunteer OUTLOOK proofreader since early 2016. In addition, she is a graphic artist who, along with her artist husband, Charlie Alolkoy, creates the brochure for the annual IFS conference. Kira’s memoir, Losing and Finding My Father, includes a foreword written by Dick Schwartz. Her primary work is as a prolific writer of nonfiction books and other materials used in elementary classrooms to teach children to read. Kira has great respect and admiration for the healing power of IFS, which she experiences regularly in her own life and has witnessed, and sometimes been privileged to facilitate, in many other people’s lives.
Brenda Hollingsworth, MSW, LICSW, is OUTLOOK’s newest proofreader. In addition, she provides proofreading support for the Foundation’s website and other written communication.
She is pleased to be able to support the Foundation in this way and brings her years of experience as proofreader of her church’s weekly and monthly publications. “For some reason, I just see things other people don’t catch,” she notes. She believes deeply in the Foundation’s goal of spreading the ideas and practice of Self leadership and is excited to contribute to that.
Brenda is in private practice in Kennewick, WA. She knew in her twenties that being a counselor was what she wanted to do, but she didn’t actively pursue that dream until the age of 53. She encountered IFS in 2011, when she engaged in couples counseling with an IFS therapist and found that the Model resonated deeply with her experience of her own internal world. She realized that she wanted to use IFS in her own counseling practice and completed L1 in 2012. She has continued with L2 and L3, as well as a number of weekend workshops and loves being in the IFS community.
Karen Locke, MA, is a certified IFS practitioner and is trained through IFS Level 3. In addition, she has been a program assistant, helping to train other therapists and practitioners.
Living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Karen provides Emotional Healing Coaching both in her home and online. She also facilitates several online IFS support groups and two IFS-based Facebook groups. She recently published an IFS-based Daily Reflections book called Self-Compassion Day by Day, available in paperback and Kindle editions.
She has enjoyed volunteering as proofreader for the OUTLOOK magazine. Furthering the reach of IFS through the Foundation brings her satisfaction. “It feels wonderful assisting others in learning more about this modality that has been so meaningful in my life,” she says of her proofreading role. Karen studied psychosynthesis, another parts-based modality, before she found IFS. However, IFS has provided her with the most effective, compassionate, and holistic understanding of the human condition she’s ever known. She’s very grateful to Dick Schwartz, the IFS Institute, and the Foundation for Self Leadership for helping her and many others to move forward in their lives.
Laura Taylor, JD, is a retired attorney who focused her practice in family court and child custody. She came to IFS almost ten years ago as a client and has taken all three levels of IFS training.
Laura has been an active volunteer proofreader since our inaugural May 2016 edition. “Volunteering as a proofreader is a way to continue to be involved in the IFS community and support its work,” Laura reflects. “To me, the magic of IFS is not in the protocol itself, but in how it supports compassion and acceptance, both for myself and from the therapist.” She finds that IFS helps clarify once-jumbled feelings and thoughts and gives her room to see things differently and accept change. She is considering writing a blog to address best practices and ethical considerations in dealing with ruptures, boundaries, and termination from the client perspective. In her spare time, Laura enjoys tap and line dancing, comedy improv, and strength training.
Plan your long-term gift to the Foundation!
Leave a good legacy for a better future. Please remember the Foundation for Self Leadership in your will or estate planning.
Help sustain its global mission of research, service, and advocacy into the next generation. All it takes is a quick phone call to your attorney to add a charitable gift to your will.
To leave a gift in your will, simply share this sentence with your attorney or financial planner:
“I bequeath $ ________________ or ________________ % of my estate or ________________ shares of ________________ equity stock or ________________ (valuable physical property) to the Foundation for Self Leadership, c/o David Bea, Esq.; Bea & VandenBerk Attorneys at Law; 225 West Washington, Suite #1010; Chicago, Illinois 60606, USA (+1.312.442.9076)
I have included the Foundation for Self Leadership in my will.
Better yet, engage the Foundation in a conversation early on to identify optimal ways to channel your gift to support strategic priorities in alignment with your personal and/or professional interests.
write us at
The Cornerstone is the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.
Just as the Annual Fund is critical to the success of The Foundation for Self Leadership, our most loyal donors are the key to a healthy and robust Annual Fund. To honor the many devoted donors who support the Annual Fund year in and year out, The Foundation for Self Leadership created Cornerstone Partners.
Join the Foundation for Self Leaderships’s Cornerstone Partners and take your place among Foundation for Self Leaderships’s philanthropic leaders by making a three-year pledge of an Annual Fund gift at one of the following levels:
Foundation Cornerstone Partners
Guardian: $10,000 and above
Ambassador: $5,000 - $9,999
Donors can give annually or monthly.
Advocate: $1,000 - $4,999
Steward: $500 - $999
To be a Cornerstone Partner, donors make a three-year pledge at one of the levels above.
Benefits for Cornerstone Partners
Featured story in OUTLOOK
Acknowledgment at the annual conference
Exclusive webinars for Cornerstone Partners
Engraved Cornerstone paperweight
Acknowledgement on website
For more information or any questions, please email Cornerstone@FoundationIFS.org.
Two years ago, my father passed away at the age of 91. One of his many remarkable gifts to my sisters and me was leaving us in charge of his family foundation. His only instruction to us was to give money to something that is meaningful to you personally and that contributes to repairing the world.
For me, that something is the Foundation. I became an IFS therapist five years ago. Over the course of 30 years as a therapist, I have dabbled in many different modalities—Oh yes, I have some seriously restless parts! With IFS, I am home. Every time I work with clients I know I am using my G-d given gifts to the very best of my ability; there is nothing else I could do that would more powerfully contribute to the healing of others. I love the power of this Model, and the unwavering commitment to welcoming all parts. And now, through my father’s gift to us, I am able to support the Foundation as well. I know my dad would be pleased!
Joanne Cohen-Katz, PhD, Executor Abram and Walter D. Cohen Foundation Lehigh Valley, PA
Why do you donate to your Foundation?
Help inspire others to contribute. Please share your story to OUTLOOK@FoundationIFS.org.
We are forever grateful for the generous and regular support of our donors. With your contributions, we are able to forge ahead with our mission of bringing the healing potential of the Model across the world. Whether you give only once, monthly, or randomly, or give in large or small amounts, each and every donation brings us closer to a world of Self leadership and healed parts. Your Foundation is brimming with ideas and motivation, please support us today.
We are your Foundation. The Foundation is yours. It takes a village…it takes you.
Do you want to be counted as an active member of our growing caring global community? Do you promote compassionate Self-leadership in your daily life with others? Do you impart the wisdom of IFS and advance the work of the Foundation with those in your circles? If you answered yes, please join our efforts!
To receive OUTLOOK and brief periodic communiqué to keep abreast of a wide range of developments around IFS and our community, please visit click here. Remember, we are separate from the IFS Institute.
Community: a unified body of individuals, such as a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society. Merriam-Webster online
OUTLOOK is a semi-annual magazine that the Foundation for Self Leadership publishes to share news relevant to IFS, the IFS community, and developments relating to the Foundation. It is not intended to appear solely and passively in the conventional print mode; rather, it is designed to interface with the Foundation’s social media and online platforms. Nor is it a venue for sending information out; it is envisioned more as an attempt to generate discussions within the community around issues and ideas of general interest and great impact.
The ultimate purpose of OUTLOOK is to support the Foundation’s mission of promoting the notion and agency of Self leadership. By naming it OUTLOOK, we hope it stands as a reminder that IFS is at once an external as much as an internal peace-seeking model, while holding a far-reaching view of the future.
The Foundation is grateful to Advisor and Publisher Toufic Hakim, PhD; Editor Michelle Glass, BA; and Assistant Editor Shaun Dempsey, PhD, who play key roles in its production; Sylvia Miller for layout and graphic design; Joshua Lisojo, MS, for online content; and Kira Freed, MA, BCC, LPC (ret.); Brenda Hollingsworth, MSW, LCSW; Karen Locke, MA; and Laura Taylor, JD, for proofreading.
Do you know of any IFS-related news our community would like to know? Do you know of a client eager to share their personal Story of Transformation? Please share with us such developments or happenings within one of these categories: IFS research, IFS within psychotherapy or programming, and IFS applications beyond psychotherapy. Please complete the form or send general information in a short email to Michelle Glass at OUTLOOK@FoundationIFS. org. We will reach out to you for additional details or specific guidelines. Thank you for your submissions and helping keep our community apprised of IFS-related endeavors.
Editors of OUTLOOK reserve the right to make final decisions regarding content of OUTLOOK.
Founded in the early 1980’s by family therapist and author Richard Schwartz, PhD, Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy suggests that the “inner self” is not a single persona but rather a complex system of distinct parts (thoughts, feelings, and beliefs), each with its own viewpoints, desires and agendas. The main agenda of these parts is to protect us from inner pain generated through developmental and life traumas. The Model rejects psychopathology and posits that there is an undamaged Self with healing attributes that is at the core of each individual, even in the presence of extreme behavior.
The Model continues to generate growing interest among psychotherapists and practitioners outside the realm of psychotherapy, where it promises a myriad of applications simply as a thought process. Thousands of practitioners have been trained in IFS through a rigorous training program, administered by IFS Institute; and tens of thousands of therapy clients and workshop attendees have experienced personal transformations through the IFS paradigm. Read more about IFS here.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Requina Barnes, LICSW; Practicing Therapist, USA (2022)
Lester Fagen, MA, JD; Partner in Business Office of Cooley, LLP, USA (2020)
Toufic Hakim, PhD; (Executive Director) Senior Managing Principal, Group i&i Consultancy, USA; Executive Advisor and Publisher of OUTLOOK (2022)
Pamela Krause, LCSW, Lead IFS Trainer, in Private Practice, USA (2020)
Vicki McCoy, MA, (Chair) President, McCoy Communications and Training, USA (2022)
Mark Milton; Founder and Executive Director, Education 4 Peace, Switzerland (2020)
About The Foundation
The Foundation for Self Leadership is an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization registered in Illinois, U.S.A. Its mission is to advance IFS research, promote the IFS Model far and wide within and beyond psychotherapy, and increase access to IFS trainings through scholarships, especially among groups with limited financial ability.
The board and the Foundation’s executive function are supported by a number of associates and volunteers. All staff and volunteer associates serve in a part-time capacity; their time and effort on behalf of the Foundation amount to a 1.47 full-time equivalent.
Daniel Fermin, BBA, Financial Controller; Anne Eberhardt, Dipl-Psych, Operational Associate (Volunteer); Barbara Perkins, MA, Senior Development Associate; Michelle Glass, BA, CIFSP, Editor of OUTLOOK; Shaun Dempsey, PhD, Assistant Editor of OUTLOOK; Ilanit Tal, PhD, Senior Research Manager; Marilyn Hunt, MS, LMFT, Donor Steward Associate; Audrey Fernandez-Fraser, LCSW, MDiv, Social Media Coordinator (Volunteer); Sharayah Morrissey, LMFT, Global Outreach Associate (Volunteer); Ilpa Patel, MPA, part-time Administrative Support; and Joshua Lisojo, MS, Website Programmer and Developer.
Visit us at www.FoundationIFS.org
Copyright © 2020 Foundation for Self Leadership | P.O. Box 873 | Union, NJ 07083