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OUTLOOK welcomes and is grateful to the following sponsors, whose support has made its publication possible.

The IFS Telehealth Collective - IFSTherapyOnline.com

Altraform.com, by Theresa Velendzas, MS

Sentur.App, by Sarah Houy, MA, LPC & Faris Sweis

Daily Parts Meditation Practice™ (DPMP™), by Michelle Glass, CIFSP

The Elusive Self, a book by Marcel Duclos, LCMHC, LPC

Introduction to IFS, workshop en Español, by Analía Castaños, LMHC

Please note that none of the Sponsored Spaces appearing in OUTLOOK are being formally endorsed by the Foundation for Self Leadership or IFS Institute, its sister organization. Sponsoring entities are not formally affiliated with either organization.

Sponsored SPACE



From the Board

Expanding the Reach of Self Leadership

Taking Self leadership to the world—this is the aspiration that motivates us as board members of the Foundation for Self Leadership. Some might consider it grandiose for a relatively small group to champion such an ambitious vision. Our confidence rests not in ourselves; it rests in the efficacy of the Internal Family Systems model, and in an ever-growing community of individuals who are committed to sharing this unique understanding of the human personality within their circles of influence.

I came to IFS a decade ago when an old friend I had lost contact with reached out to wish me a happy birthday and added, “By the way, given the work you do in executive coaching and teambuilding, you might want to look into the Internal Family Systems model.” A few years later, I was on an airplane returning home from an IFS conference in Boston. My seatmate asked what I had been doing in Beantown, so I shared with him my delight in having been with fellow travelers on the road to Self leadership. He, in turn, shared with me that he had been in Boston to support a family member who was in desperate need of emotional support following a difficult divorce. We kept in touch; and within a few months, he reported back to me that his family member was seeing an IFS therapist on a regular basis and was on a path back to emotional health and well-being.

Every one of us has a story about how we found IFS or it found us. Every one of us also has access to a piece of the world that would benefit from understanding parts and Self and the innate capacity we have to quiet the inner cacophony and achieve a more harmonious way of living. We can take IFS to the world, our world, in a spontaneous fashion, as often happens. We can also do so in a planned, organized way. As board members, we do both. We each have our circles of influence in our families, communities, and places of work. We have also chosen to join together to get the synergies that occur when like-minded people with a shared passion to bring greater peace, compassion, and emotional wellness to the world put their heads and their hearts into achieving collective impact.

The board is celebrating its full eighth year of existence just as the Model for Self Leadership approaches its 40th anniversary in three years. I know I speak for the entire board of directors when I say that we have never been more excited about what lies ahead for the use of the Model and for the work of the Foundation. As strange as it may sound—or perhaps not so strange, all things considered—we have made big leaps forward during the last 1.5 years of living with COVID-19 and all of its impacts. For sure, this scourge has magnified our awareness of “parts on parade” as we deal individually and collectively with this existential threat. It has also further deepened our already deep commitment to being of service through our mission in this most trying of times.

For example, never has our work on IFS research that validates the efficacy of the Model felt more important. We want IFS to be readily available for use ubiquitously in therapeutic settings and anywhere else it can have impact—in hospitals, in veterans’ centers, in schools, in businesses, in politics, at dinner tables. The importance of our research efforts is underscored in the work the Foundation is doing now to support IFS for military veterans, where the evidence that research provides is often the price of admission.

Our work to help introduce IFS into schools has taken on new meaning at a time when schools are increasingly exploring “mindfulness” to support a healthier learning environment. We all recognize the more apparent impacts that COVID-driven virtual learning has had on children’s socialization and quality of learning, including the inequity for families in the lower economic strata. One of our board members reminded us that there are children for whom school is also a safe-haven, a place where an adult cares about them and their well-being. It is gratifying as a Foundation to support those within the IFS community who are creating a Self leadership curriculum to help address the multi-dimensional challenges facing administrators, teachers, and students in their return to school this fall.

The Foundation sees itself as an incubator for expanding the reach of Self leadership in enterprising ways brought forward by a committed IFS community of practice. There are new worlds and new pathways to be further explored, including medicine, politics, and peacemaking. As a board, we welcome your ideas about the work you would most have us do as we carry out our mission of supporting empirical research, advocacy within and beyond psychotherapy, and access to training for those with limited financial resources. We also ask that you consider joining us in board service or nominating someone who you think would help us make the difference in any of these areas. And of course, we appreciate and rely on your financial support as we work alongside you to take IFS to a hurting world desperately in need of hope and healing.

Faithfully yours on the journey,

Vicki McCoy, MA, Chair of the Board

On behalf of the Board of the Directors

Requina Barnes, LICSW; Stew Brown, PhD; Les Fagen, MA, JD; Kelly Gaule, CAP; Toufic Hakim, PhD; Executive Director & Publisher of OUTLOOK; Sady Kim-Singh, MSW, LCSW

To contact a board member, please email FirstName@FoundationIFS.org (example: Vicki@FoundationIFS.org).



From the Editor

When one door closes another door opens;
but we often look so long and so regretfully
upon the closed door that we do not see
the one which has opened for us.
– Alexander Graham Bell


Dear IFS Community,
As editor, I have sat in a seat of privilege for the past seven years. I have had the rare opportunity not only of interviewing so many incredible individuals and organizations (some of you), but also of communicating to you the valuable articles which result from these conversations. This privilege extends to my collaboration with the Foundation’s board and associates, the staff at IFS Institute, and working with the wonderful team that brings OUTLOOK to your eyes. It’s a role I have greatly enjoyed. I’ve been cognizant in never taking for granted my role and the benefits that have come from it.

Therefore, you might imagine that it is tremendously bittersweet to announce this is my last edition. While I will remain active with the Foundation as an editorial advisor, I leave my role as editor so that I can focus my attention on three areas that have been demanding my attention for some time: The Daily Parts Meditation Practice™ (DPMP™)—the book I wrote in 2017— and various applications of it are taking off to greater heights; the completion of writing my healing memoir necessitates a lack of interruption; and the desire to create a better work-to-life balance. I discuss more about this and my role as editor in the interview, Looking Back and Moving Forward: An Interview with Outgoing OUTLOOK Editor Michelle Glass.

We might consider a portion of this extended quote from Bell, “When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us,” as parts of us who can impact our decision-making. Fortunately because of the Model, we are afforded ample opportunities to heal our parts empowering us to make Self-led decisions. I’m moving forward toward the new large windows opening for me, without regretfully looking back. In fact, I will take so many things I have learned from this position with me. As the pages of OUTLOOK have expanded exponentially, so too, has the depth and breadth of my knowledge.

I will forever appreciate those with whom I have worked, too many to name here (yet are all mentioned in the interview), thank you! However, it is essential to acknowledge three individuals. I want to express my deepest gratitude to Toufic Hakim, PhD, our executive director, for the multitude of ways he has mentored and encouraged me and for our fantastic friendship. Likewise, I want to voice my appreciation of Shaun Dempsey, PhD, our assistant editor, for his reliability, his practical utilization of the Model in our projects, and our friendship. Finally, I share my gratitude of Sylvia Miller, our graphic designer, for her creativity and the magical ways she brings the magazine to full life.

Every edition has brought with it many interesting features, and I can say that each one contains within it some favorites. This edition is no exception and I believe it is my favorite of all, as it contains several articles and topics near to my heart, in addition to being our largest edition to date. Among the many articles you will read are three consecutive articles on IFS and group therapy which highlight the benefits of this work: Creating Healing Circles Using IFS and Group Therapy; Bringing Therapy to the Masses: A Research Study Investigating Options for Delivering IFS in a Group-Based Format; and The Emergence of Group Self-Energy. Two features on legacy and cultural burdens along with one Story of Transformation, call attention to the necessity of healing that which is beyond our own direct experience: The Power of Working with Collective Burdens; and Israelis and Palestinians Collective Healing: Healing Our Trauma Together. Five Stories of Transformation capture the direct impact of IFS healing and form a bridge of connection from one person to another: Facing the Part I Thought Was Me; Marushka’s Personal Story; A High Six; Meeting an Old Friend; and Discovering the Gifts of My Exiles: Reconnecting with My True Self.

Features expanding efforts with military veterans and schools, Rethinking IFS Approaches for Military Veterans; Accessing Self Leadership in Schools - A Connecticut Initiative; and On the Way to a “Self-Led School” Designation: A Pilot Program Evaluation Summary, underline the efforts of the Foundation and the dedication of the individuals working in these institutional settings. IFS Steps into the Digital Age and Looking Back and Moving Forward: An Interview with Outgoing OUTLOOK Editor Michelle Glass present new and exciting applications for those using IFS in their personal and professional lives. Several other articles are sure to attract your attention. I personally hope you enjoy many or all of them.

It’s been a great honor to gift the resource of OUTLOOK to the community and beyond for so many years. It is my hope that the hardcopies of the magazine grace your offices and homes, sharing the wealth of information broadly with others. No matter what next steps face you as doors close and windows open, may your parts feel buoyed by inner and outer Self connections. I look forward to staying connected with you and hopefully seeing you in person soon. You can now reach me at either michelle@FoundationIFS.org or michelleglassifs@gmail.com.



Inward &


IFS Research News

The Foundation-funded pilot study that examined the effects of the IFS protocol in treating 12 individuals experiencing complex PTSD has now been completed. The research involved online weekly IFS group therapy with bi-weekly individual IFS sessions. The results are being prepared for submission to peer-reviewed scientific journals by the researchers now and will be shared with the community as soon as they can be made public.

“By training numerous clinicians in IFS at an academic training institution with a strong commitment to community mental health and health equity, we hope to unlock synergies that are needed for conducting high-quality research while fostering an equitable culture of research supporting our diverse communities from the outset.”

Zev Schuman-Olivier, MD, PI of the Foundation-funded PARTS Research Study

In light of the promising findings, the research team at Cambridge Health Alliance, led by Zev Schuman- Olivier, MD, has now been approved by the Foundation board to begin a two-year randomized, controlled trial of IFS for the treatment of community clinic patients with complex PTSD as well as a separate feasibility study for IFS for PTSD patients with dual diagnosis of substance use disorder. (Donations from friends of IFS continue to be vital to support the full funding of these projects and can be made at FoundationIFS.org/support/make-a-donation.)


To ensure that the Foundation continues to fund the highest quality of research that will affirm and broaden IFS as an evidence-based modality, the Foundation is actively recruiting new members for our research development team (for more information please see FoundationIFS.org/research/research-development-team) and welcomes interest at Research@FoundationIFS.org.

The Foundation welcomes two new members to the team: Michael Fitzgerald, PhD, and Beth Mullen-Houser, PhD. Beth, currently a private practice clinical psychologist, has published and presented on psychotherapy research findings related to her extensive training, including with veteran and student populations, in female mental health, PTSD, polytrauma, substance abuse, and psychological assessment. Michael is Level 3 trained, has assisted in multiple Level 1 and Level 2 trainings, has recently published articles using the IFS Self Scale, and is an Assistant Professor in Child and Family Sciences at the University of Mississippi.

Jenn Matheson, PhD, LMFT, continues to catalogue and annotate articles in the Foundation-sponsored online IFS Resource Database. Clinicians looking for a way to contribute to the research literature are encouraged to consider writing up an interesting case to be submitted as a case study for publication in an academic journal, which would, of course, be catalogued in this database. Interested volunteers are always welcome to help sustain this effort.

Engaged or interested in engaging in research? Please share thoughts, questions, and relevant developments with Research@FoundationIFS.org.




Editor’s Note: The sleeping giant of IFS initially introduced to the therapy world by Richard Schwartz, PhD, over 35 years ago, has exploded in the last decade and is currently experiencing an exponential increase in interest from clients, therapists, and potential trainers around the world. It seems everyone wants to be involved in, or exposed to, this outstanding therapeutic intervention! But with the standard limitations of personnel and time, combined with the extraordinary limitations of the most serious global pandemic for over a century, demand for IFS is currently outstripping supply, resulting in a rethink of how this life-changing intervention can be successfully delivered to more people.

Part of this rethink involves the use of IFS for group therapy. IFS Institute training over the years has traditionally been delivered in groups and provides a working model illustrating how IFS is successfully delivered and well-received in large groups. IFS trainers utilize specialized principles of group dynamics when delivering training which can be adapted for the delivery of group therapy. When seen through this lens, the advantages of using IFS for group therapy become obvious. Academic research into group therapy is needed and thankfully has already commenced.

Another part of the rethink involves the use of technology to augment the delivery of traditional IFS services for clients and therapists. For example, the use of videoconference technology to deliver therapy and training has become commonplace in the last year and a half as a result of the global pandemic. But the recent development of an IFS-specific app designed to collate and integrate IFS resources for clients is another step in this process of increasing access to clients and represents a further evolution in the delivery of the Model.

This edition of OUTLOOK features a number of articles that address the above issues related to the need to expand the delivery of IFS by utilizing group therapy and the advancing technology which supports it. _SD


Creating Healing Circles
Using IFS and Group Therapy

Chris Burris LPC, LMFT

Chris Burris LPC, LMFT, is well known for his work with men’s groups and conscious eldering and has been a Lead Trainer with IFS Institute since 2008. With a growing awareness of the need for group therapy to increase access to the IFS Model in the therapeutic space, Chris has spent the last two years writing a book on the topic due for release later this year. Let’s take a look at the role of group therapy from his perspective and get Chris’s views on the advantages that can be enjoyed when using IFS in a group format.

Having used IFS in individual therapy for years, Chris has recently turned his attention to the potential benefits of IFS group therapy. He notes that the basics of individual IFS therapy are largely replicated in group therapy with particular emphasis on maintaining fidelity to key components of the Model, such as parts detecting, the befriending of protectors, creating Self-to-part relationships, retrieval, and unburdening. However, he also outlines a range of specific advantages to group therapy—over and above the significantly expanded access to clients—which are simply not available in a standard therapist/client therapeutic relationship.

First, Chris relays that the use of psychodrama becomes an option in the group space, with participants available for activities such as parts sculpting that can often reveal hidden family dynamics in a way previously not articulated by verbal description alone. The experience of having their parts witnessed in such a supportive and openly experiential way provides a snapshot of their dynamics, opening up opportunities for growth and understanding. Group therapy also helps clients to normalize and support the universal understanding of multiplicity as participants are able to get to know their own system through witnessing similar parts in others. Additionally, if homework tasks such as journaling or parts mapping are set for the week ahead, participants are bound by their commitment to other group members, thus intensifying the honesty and commitment between group members and raising the level of authenticity of the group. In this way, Chris says, “The process becomes bigger than the individual.”

Group therapy also helps clients to normalize and support the universal understanding of multiplicity as participants are able to get to know their own system through witnessing similar parts in others.

He also shares the importance of meticulously setting up the parameters of the group to ensure that all participants are in the process together, thereby reducing the presence of critical observing parts. A detailed screening procedure, followed by the establishing of a solid group contract made up of participants’ individual intentions and objectives for their time in the group, further clarifies the direction of the group and sets up a clean process. Another significant advantage to group therapy observed by Chris is the therapeutic exploitation of the existing group culture to bond participants and increase vulnerability. For example, a group of military veterans will have explicit similarities with, and understandings of, each other, and as such will go the extra mile to support their colleagues and honor their parts.

But one of the major advantages to group therapy, from Chris’s perspective, is the role of group facilitators and their willingness to manage their own system and Self-energy when the group acts out. “We are going to get things wrong,” Chris says with a laugh. “So, it’s important to be prepared for public humiliation and to be able to handle that in a humble and transparent way while taking care of, and speaking for, our own parts.” The extent to which the therapist can manage this delicate task contributes significantly to the safety of the group. This leads Chris to talk about the importance of training in group therapy and dynamics, along with certification in the Model.

This type of healing would basically be impossible in a one-on-one therapeutic situation.

As an example of the power of group therapy, Chris relates a story about a participant in a group he worked with who had never felt loved and was acutely suicidal. At one point in the middle of a joint exercise, the participants had bonded in a way that allowed this man to start laughing. His laughing became infectious for all the other group members, and the whole group descended into a fit of belly laughing. In that moment,” Chris remembers, “this man experienced himself as being loveable for the first time ever. His harshly critical perception of himself dissolved, and he felt a positive dyadic attachment experience, having the sense for the first time ever that he was celebrated and adored.” This type of healing would basically be impossible in a one-on-one therapeutic situation.

Chris runs a 16-week group program, at the end of which participants routinely report a greater sense of community, better recognition of their own internal systems, and a keener sense of Self. He also uses the dynamics of group therapy while working with a group of trial lawyers who, like therapists, understand that the only tool they have is themselves, and as such they need to have a clear and unobstructed understanding of their own internal systems.

For more information on using IFS in group therapy, Chris’s book Creating Healing Circles Using IFS and Group Therapy will be released later this year. He can be contacted at: mountainself@gmail.com. _SD


Envision a World
in Which People Live
Using the Inner Resources
of Self Leadership.

Your Foundation for Self Leadership works to bring the language and lens of IFS to healing and living; bringing acceptance, compassion, and safety for all.

Join the Friends of the Foundation to stay up-to-date on news from and about the IFS community; and learn about ways to support the work of the Foundation.



Bringing Therapy to the Masses:

A Research Study Investigating Options for Delivering IFS in a Group-Based Format

Chris Burris LPC, LMFT

Chris Burris LPC, LMFT

With IFS experiencing an exponential increase in interest worldwide, attention is turning to the role of the Model in group-based therapy. As part of this evolution, a research study in Massachusetts, USA, has been conducted to investigate an IFS group therapy model for participants with PTSD and complex PTSD. Join us as we meet the two therapists leading clinical aspects of this study and explore the nuances of IFS group-based therapy, teasing out some of the advantages involved for both clients and therapists.

Hanna Soumerai, LICSW, and Mary Catherine Ward, LICSW, are both clinicians in the busy Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) Outpatient Psychiatry Department at Cambridge Hospital in Massachusetts. As a social work intern in 2012, Hanna notes she was fortunate to have Martha Sweezy, PhD, as her supervisor and she remembers Martha drawing a link between her main treatment modality (IFS) and the fact that her patients get better quickly. At the same time, Mary Catherine, who had been working at the hospital since 1997, was a manager in the team, leading to her forming a close working relationship with Hanna. Soon after Hanna completed her internship, she and Mary Catherine were program assistants in an IFS Level I training together, followed closely by Hanna returning to the Cambridge Health Alliance as a full-time clinician.

Some years prior, in 2013, after completing Levels 1, 2, and 3 of IFS training, Mary Catherine started the first IFS group at CHA using similar principles to those used by IFS Founder Richard Schwartz, PhD, in his training demonstrations. That experience gave her the confidence that group IFS work could help the isolated, depressed complex trauma patients more quickly and more deeply embrace the gifts of IFS. She thought group work would be a good way to deepen their IFS skills to better support their parts, practice unblending, and appreciate others who had similar parts.

Around the same time, Hanna’s clinical director suggested formally creating an IFS team in the department, which led to a conversation around the possibility of doing some research. This was ultimately initiated and ably supported by Zev Schuman-Olivier, MD, as the principal investigator. Hanna approached Mary Catherine, who made time in her busy schedule, and with the assistance of Zev, Martha, Larry Rosenburg, PhD, and Nancy Sowell, LICSW, the deal was struck and put into action with the support of Lexi Comeau, MA, and Lydia Smith, BA, on the research team.

Hanna got busy writing the curriculum with assistance from the team and, with Mary Catherine as co-lead, they implemented the study which aims to create an IFS group therapy model for participants with PTSD and complex PTSD. The format of the study involved 16 weekly group meetings of 90-minutes each, with adjunctive bi-weekly individual IFS therapy sessions of 50-minutes each with a group leader. Graduates could move on to an alumni group for another 16 weeks with individual therapy, if needed.

“But in a group setting, that skepticism about the Model dissolves quickly as people watch each other engage.”

The pair acknowledge some significant benefits to delivering IFS as a group-based therapy. First, the impact of the group members being able to witness and support each other’s healing process was cited as being pivotal. “In an individual therapy session,” notes Hanna, “someone might look at me with suspicion when I ask them how they ‘feel towards a part.’ But in a group setting, that skepticism about the Model dissolves quickly as people watch each other engage.” Second, Hanna observes that being able to see someone else on their path of healing fosters hope in others and allows them to see their own experiences mirrored in others, which reduces shame. Third, and in a similar vein, both clinicians remark that with relationships being at the core of our lives, and often at the core of our traumas, the opportunity to process those traumas inside a safe and emotionally supportive inter-relational environment allows participants to experience healing on a number of different levels and encourages a deeper level of connection both with other participants as well as their own internal system. A final advantage to group therapy is the critical mass of Self-energy that can be generated, which also contributes to deeper processing for the participants and allows them to feel more connected and less alone.

As well as advantages for the participants, there are potential benefits for therapists. Hanna observes that had the IFS group therapy project not come about, she may have succumbed to therapeutic burnout. “I don’t think I could have continued the work individually. We care so much about our patients and try to do such a good job, but the structural limitations of inadequate insurance schemes combined with a high demand for services and the resultant heavy workloads create a busy and complex environment. So, the dynamic of IFS group therapy has allowed me to keep working in a way that helps the patients and is also sustainable for me.”

Mary Catherine wants to take it one step further and has hopes that, as people advance through several cohorts of group-based IFS, experienced participants could undergo supportive training and continue to work in peer-led IFS groups*, or even host future groups with the ultimate aim of “us getting ourselves out of a job!” Both Hanna and Mary Catherine feel strongly that one of the unique aspects of the study that has contributed to its success is the combination of group therapy meetings with the group therapy leaders concomitantly providing individual therapy to participants on a bi-weekly basis.

As if the challenges of producing a quality research project were not enough on their own, the pair faced the additional challenge of having their start date delayed due to the global pandemic. But with admirable ingenuity they simply pivoted and implemented the study online. One major advantage of running the study online was that it allowed people to receive treatment who otherwise might not have been able to due to obstacles around transportation, childcare, and other life demands.

... the opportunity to process those traumas inside a safe and emotionally supportive inter-relational environment allows participants to experience healing on a number of different levels and encourages a deeper level of connection both with other participants as well as their own internal system.


People also found the online chat function helpful as it opened up a space for more connection. For example, if someone shared an experience, people would follow up in chat, offering support and encouragement to each other. Both Hanna and Mary Catherine note that, to their surprise, the online format was not a barrier to people feeling connected and it did allow for group intimacy.

The bond and mutual respect between Hanna and Mary Catherine was palpable and they shared they have worked together for many years developing an easy relationship which has filtered down into the dynamics of their project. Mary Catherine observes, “We work together honestly and regularly speak for our parts. Hanna has shown a lot of courage in putting herself into the work and leading from the front and we know enough to trust each other and to trust the Model.” Hanna agrees and notes that when things came up inside the work, they would simply use IFS on the spot and “practice what we preach in terms of speaking for our parts.”

The data for the study have been collated and are now being analyzed. Initial findings are very promising and the pair hope to be able to speak about their success later this year. Hanna can be contacted at hcsoumerai@challiance.org and Mary Catherine can be contacted at: mward@challiance.org. __SD

* The May 2018 edition of OUTLOOK featured IFS Training on a Grand Scale: Genuine Embodiment of IFS in Mainstream China, an article focused not only on large-scale training but on a program called IFS-Based Inner Peace Coach (IPC). IPC are peer-led groups designed to foster wide-spread healing in the community. Perhaps as more IFS groups are established, more peer-led communities will also form.


The Emergence of Group Self-Energy

Hagit Zeev, MA, LMFT

Having run Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and other mindfulness-oriented groups, as well as facilitating group therapy generally for the last 15 years, Hagit Zeev, MA, LMFT, has now turned her considerable skills to conducting IFS-based groups in her studio in California and online throughout the country. Come with us as we meet Hagit and gain some insight into what she sees as the advantages of a group-based approach when working with the IFS Model.

With a deep interest in spirituality and the role of Self-energy in healing, honed over years conducting a combination of Existential-Humanistic group work, Mindfulness, and IFS therapy, Hagit Zeev has developed a 10-week IFS course which introduces participants to the basics of IFS, ultimately providing a cradle for deep and abiding change. She acknowledges the important role of individual IFS therapy, noting that while it can take more time for protectors to trust the process, and sometimes longer to access the client’s Self, individual therapy works for almost everyone, can address most diagnoses, and provides a systematic approach to work through parts and unburdenings in a methodical way.

However, she reports with a laugh that many therapists and clients are apprehensive about group therapy because of the potential for conflict between participants, or between client and therapist. Interestingly, she shares that one of the main points of the group is development of a robust and cohesive bond between participants, and in that space, there arises the opportunity to allow conflict to come to the surface, be held, and then processed by group as whole. This dramatic intensification of Self-energy which is made manifest as a type of group Self-energy, is what Hagit harnesses in her group work to facilitate meaningful transformation.

“People are mirrors of each other,” observes Hagit, “so, when the group has been set up properly and someone goes deeply into the work approaching an exile, for instance, the other participants will tread the path of compassion and follow that participant into the deeper work.”

“People are mirrors of each other,” observes Hagit, “so, when the group has been set up properly and someone goes deeply into the work approaching an exile, for instance, the other participants will tread the path of compassion and follow that participant into the deeper work.” Hagit observes that when this happens and someone bares their soul and shows vulnerability, this engenders compassion in the group as a whole, which intensifies Self-energy even further, thus reinforcing the whole cycle.

She is meticulous in her screening of potential participants, ensuring that group members possess a baseline of compassion, curiosity, and the other Cs which will allow them to fully engage as well as offer support to others. She also investigates the participants’ history of trauma and previous experience with group therapy and, if they are not suitable for group work, will facilitate referral to an individual therapist for work which may act as a bridge to group work in the future. Hagit uses a potent combination of physical movement, psychodrama, and meditation—which she developed during her time working with Nitsan Joy Gordon, MA,—in conjunction with in-session demonstrations, to provide an ongoing invitation for participants to be self-aware, notice, and name their parts as they arise in the moment.

While Hagit acknowledges the advantages of group therapy in terms of providing clients with increased access to the Model, she shares a more nuanced perspective in terms of what else it offers. “There is something bigger than just reaching more people,” explains Hagit. “The notion of rugged individuality is a core value in the USA, but there is a hunger and thirst for group connection and group experience all across the USA—never more so than at the moment in the current political and pandemic environment, and group therapy can help meet this need.” In terms of relational trauma specifically, Hagit outlines that the provision of group therapy provides the opportunity for healing a family experience that has gone wrong, or as a reminder of a positive family experience with which the client has lost contact. “It’s about providing a much needed and ancient connection with others,” she summarizes.

“... but there is a hunger and thirst for group connection and group experience all across the USA— never more so than at the moment in the current political and pandemic environment, and group therapy can help meet this need.”

It is in this vein that Hagit notes that group therapy can lead to a harmonizing of frequencies and an emotional attunement that strengthens and reinforces the compassion and connection, weaving strands of consciousness that manifest as trust, hope, and belief in the possibility of a better world.

She explains that group therapists often have to hold a lot of energy, which can sometimes be difficult as it requires a lot of self-awareness and self-care. “Group work involves a lot of shadow work, which can be intense and tricky,” she says, “and the therapist needs to know how to hold that energy.” This can sometimes take its toll on the group therapist, but for Hagit, this is just a sign that she needs to engage in self-care or do some more of her own work. Her passion for applying IFS in psychotherapy groups is contagious. “I’m a big fan of the Model,” concludes Hagit, “and I see how it enhances truth and vulnerability in group work, which eventually creates a community of individuals who are open to themselves and others.” Hagit can be contacted at hagitzeev@gmail.com. _SD

“IFS is the language of the wounded, it is
the doorway to the
client’s inner world.”

Joy Shivas, MSW, LCSW


Shivas Challenge to the IFS Community:
Match $100,000 USD Gift to Sustain and Empower Foundation for Self Leadership

Last June, Joy Shivas, MSW, LCSW, past IFS Assistant Trainer, asked members of the IFS community to join her in supporting the work of the Foundation. She would give the community twelve months to match her generous gift. That meant, on average, 200 donors needed to each give a $500 gift (or $42 a month with a recurring gift). As of September 1, 2021, 125 Friends of the Foundation donated $19,484 (and pledged an additional $9,068 through recurring gifts to be paid in installments over the next nine months). Thank you to those members of the IFS community who are helping to advance the practice of IFS.

Every gift received before June 1, 2022 will count toward the challenge. The Foundation for Self Leadership utilizes these crucial resources to advance the paradigm and practice of IFS, and to foster a more peaceful world.





Editor’s Note: Ann Sinko, LMFT, and IFS Lead Trainer, is well known for her work with legacy burdens inside the IFS Model. As a curious clinician looking for healing from her own ancestral issues, she developed a protocol for legacy and cultural unburdenings that has gained significant traction in IFS circles. Come with us as we unpack some of the nuances of this work and gain an introduction to the construct of legacy and cultural burdens and unburdenings. __SD

Ann started teaching the IFS Model in 1995 in the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Central Connecticut State University. As a family therapist, she found herself drawn to intergenerational models of understanding systems. Ann notes that she was fortunate to have excellent IFS mentors, including Barb Cargill, MA, ADTR, and Michi Rose, PhD, LMSW, who provided her with basic training in the construct of legacy burdens, which then allowed her to integrate concepts from Family Constellation work and shamanism as a way of moving her thinking forward around legacy and cultural unburdenings and, most recently, how these concepts are shaped by collective burdens.

Ann notes that the power of legacy unburdenings can cause dramatic shifts in a person’s individual system. She recalls a woman in her late 30s who was due to be married and had never had any relationship issues, and who came to see her because of a vague sense of family enmeshment and lack of individuation mixed with generalized anxiety and difficulty focusing her thoughts and attention. It transpired that her mother had been sexually abused, and her father had a family history of alcoholism, which imbued her whole ancestral history with a flavor of trauma and codependence. In these types of situations, Ann notes that the feelings become the enemy and that, with the gentle process of inquiry and a subsequent legacy unburdening, her client came back two weeks later having called off the wedding and having called out her ex-fiancé’s alcoholism, which had always been present but which she had previously been unable to name and confront.

Ann distinguishes between personal burdens, which result from our direct experience of trauma, and collective burdens, which can either manifest as legacy burdens or cultural burdens. Ann explains that legacy burdens are passed down directly through ancestral lines, while cultural burdens are infused in and passed down through the dominant culture (see text box 1). Ann also notes recent research relevant to collective burdens that takes into account epigenetics and the converging data indicating that children and grandchildren of individuals sustain the effects of their parents’ trauma through changes in the epigenetics occurring before birth and possibly before conception.

... and suddenly there is a potent mix of intergenerational mistrust and trauma, which has been brewing in individuals, families and societies over time, that is reinforced in a cyclical way and which is passed on down the chain.

She observes that in her own work with clients, the cyclical or repetitive nature of intergenerational trauma also manifests in collective burdens via the relationship between legacy burdens and cultural burdens. For example, the burdens from wars and natural disasters can be seen as cultural burdens that often become legacy burdens because their effects play out in, and are reinforced by, the family environment on an individual level. These individuals then contribute to the culture of the next generation and will often create or reinforce systemic burdens in the form of society’s rules, norms, or laws. For example, Jim Crow laws and rules around segregation came right out of slavery, and then those individuals (both white and Black) affected by the impact of slavery (i.e., personal burden) formed the next generation of people who consequently developed assumptions such as “Black people are dangerous” or “white people can’t be trusted” (i.e., legacy and cultural burdens). Throw Ann’s nine rules of shame into the mix (adapted from Imber-Black’s book, Secrets in Families and Family Therapy - see text box 2), and suddenly there is a potent mix of intergenerational mistrust and trauma, which has been brewing in individuals, families, and societies over time, that is reinforced in a cyclical way and which is passed on down the chain. Furthermore, until the right questions are posed, an individual frequently does not even know they are carrying a collective burden.

  • PERSONAL BURDENS come from our direct experience of being devalued and/or shamed—big-T and small-t trauma where there was not sufficient resource (e.g., Self-energy, secure attachment) to mitigate the impact of the event.

  • LEGACY BURDENS are passed down the ancestral lines through belief systems, emotions, energies, epigenetics and memories, both cognitive and somatic.

  • CULTURAL BURDENS are beliefs and energies absorbed by parts of us that take on the messages of the dominant culture. These burdens are systemically reinforced in our cultural values and institutions.

  • COLLECTIVE BURDENS are the constraining beliefs, norms, values and laws that are wrought from wars, natural disasters, genocide, slavery, abuse of Earth’s resources and so on.

But Ann shares that there is good news in all of this, noting that if a client brings both personal burdens and collective burdens to therapy, she will work with the legacy or cultural burden first. This is because they are usually quicker and easier to deal with, as protective parts are generally open to letting go of burdens that were not created in their lifetime, and witnessing is often not required. For Ann, dealing with collective legacy and cultural burdens is highly meaningful. “The work is so powerful and can bring drastic changes in peoples’ lives,” she says. “This phenomenon is real, and I love the science and research that are supporting legacy, cultural, and collective trauma these days. IFS is a modality that has a road map for addressing and healing them.”


CONTROL: Be in control of all behaviors and interactions, yours and everyone else.

PERFECTION: Always be “right,” do the “right” thing, strive for perfection, use criticism to try to ensure perfection.

BLAME: If something does not happen as you plan, if you feel something you don’t want to feel, blame (self or others).

DENIAL: Deny feelings, especially negative or vulnerable ones.

UNRELIABILITY: Do not expect reliability or constancy in relationships. Watch for the unpredictable. DO NOT TRUST!

INCOMPLETENESS: Don’t bring transactions to resolution or completion because you might have to face feelings or honest revelations you are protecting against. Don’t let secrets out.

NO TALK: Don’t talk openly and directly about shameful, abusive, or compulsive behaviors or feelings.

DISQUALIFICATION: When disrespectful, shameful, abusive, or compulsive behaviors occur, disqualify, deny, or disguise them, and make excuses.

COMPARE: Compare yourself to others and highlight how you are not as accomplished, attractive, smart—or have a level of privilege so you don’t deserve to feel the way you do. Be acutely aware of how you don’t measure up.

Adapted from Evan Imber-Black’s 8 Rules of Shame from
Secrets in Families and Family Therapy

Ann Sinko, LMFT

For more detailed information about legacy burdens and the protocol for working with them, see Ann’s chapter as follows: Sinko, A.L. (2017). “Legacy Burdens.” In Sweezy, M. & Ziskind, E.L. (Eds.,). Innovations and Elaborations in Internal Family Systems Therapy, New York: Routledge, pp. 164–178. Ann can be contacted at sinkobead@sbcglobal.net.




by Beau Laviolette, LCSW, and Ray Mount, PhD

We would like to report on a project which may shed some light on how to introduce the IFS model to military and veteran populations, so that it will become an integral part of treatment protocols.

Our project began a year and a half ago when Toufic Hakim, PhD, Executive Director of the Foundation of Self Leadership, invited us (both of us military veterans) to join a small group of IFS-trained therapists who had served in the military to meet with a group of psychotherapists providing services for patients on a naval base. We hosted phone and video-calls with this group a number of times, answering their questions and challenges about using IFS with their clients.

They had a series of questions in mind:

“How do we treat PTSD? Can IFS reduce suicide rates? Can the Model be used when clients are seen only a time or two? What if our military personnel or veterans can’t ‘meditate and go inside?’ What data do you have that will convince our clinical supervisors that the Model is evidence-based and equivalent to CBT?”

In addition, we were met with a moderate amount of skepticism—except for one member of the military group who had experienced his own IFS therapy and was highly motivated to share that positive experience with his colleagues. So, as part of a demonstration project, we volunteered to provide IFS therapy/consulting to two more members of the group over a number of weeks. As a result of our volunteer efforts and continued discussions, their interest grew in IFS, which led them to enroll in a formerly offered PESI course on IFS taught by Frank Anderson, MD. The PESI course stimulated more interest and more questions and led to our invitation to present them with an extensive workshop as an intro to clinical IFS.

The participants wanted more experience with the Model so they could begin to introduce high-level notions and elements of it into their own work. Also, they wanted help adapting the Model to the unique needs of military clients. Furthermore, they needed “prof statements” to demonstrate the efficacy of the Model so their superior officers could endorse its use. We met with the group a few times and developed this workshop collaboratively. Our intent was to pique their interest, support them in their immediate clinical struggles, and prepare them for advanced IFS trainings through the Institute.

Our experience taught us valuable lessons that may help others interested in bringing the IFS model into military and veteran environments. Following is a quick overview of the workshop, along with some observations. We stayed as close to the tenets of the IFS model as we could, while presenting it using many of the resources and examples from our own training and experience as program assistants. Also, we believe the fact that both of us are veterans was very helpful indeed.

About the Actual Workshop

The experience we were retained to lead began with two, one-hour long sessions followed by two, eight-hour day-long workshops and four, bi-weekly one-hour follow-up groups.

On the first day, entitled Assessment, we presented and administered a modified version of the validated IFS 20-item Self-Leadership Scale, went through the Model from contracting through the 6Fs, and included direct access.

The second day, which we called Healing, started work with exiles. The group wanted lots of time to practice; so, we spent most of our time doing demonstrations, exercises, and practice sessions. (In the future, we would suggest even more time spent in practice sessions. Though we offered breakout rooms on Zoom, the group seemed to prefer staying in the larger room where they could watch each member practice. This seems important to note, especially given that military training is done in groups and may be a better learning environment to practice.)

There was a two-week gap between full-day workshops where participants were encouraged to start applying the language and approach they had learned in their own work with clients. During the two-week gap, we worked individually with participants to help them with therapist parts and learn more about their own internal systems. Following the end of the second session, we continued working with the group for an hour every other week. During these sessions, we provided support and encouragement as they brought elements of the Model into their practices. We believe that this level of staff involvement is an important part of introducing the Model because it helped therapists gain confidence in using it. In addition, we believe it is important to provide ongoing access to training, supervision, and the IFS community in order to succeed at bringing IFS to the Veterans Administration and active military groups.

In the final phase of this project, inspired by what was learned, we stressed the need for regular ongoing supervision, individual IFS therapy, and encouragement to enroll in formal IFS trainings.

The Healing Corps is a group co-conceived by the Foundation and Ray Mount, of which he and Beau Laviolette are charter members. The Foundation supports the Corps, whose growing membership meet monthly to discuss emerging ideas and projects and provide peer support to each other. The Corps is dedicated to the ideals of “growth, connectedness, and service.” Opportunities are available for personal and professional growth through peer-to-peer supervision and support, connectedness through gatherings and engagement in joint projects initiated by Corps members and, ultimately, serving military veterans, active-duty personnel, and first responders in meaningful ways.

Lessons Learned

The Group Setting. Military personnel are trained in large groups, serve in groups, and are deployed to battle in groups. They collectively believe in and live by the culture that grows from their common mission and activity. This culture encourages the “buddy system,” where servicemembers learn to rely on each other for safety. Therefore, learning and exercise in dyads were an important feature of our program. In addition, teaching IFS group therapy could offer many advantages including cost-savings and number of people served.

IFS as an Overarching Framework. Another lesson from our project was that the military therapists were eager for IFS tools to help them when they got stuck with a client; and less likely change over to a new model they saw as abandoning the therapies they knew with confidence. Also, they were directed to follow IFS protocols when engaged in therapy and when writing notes. To address these concerns, we broke the Model down into “tools” they could draw from to add to their own therapy toolbox. In addition, we presented the analysis part of the Model (Day 1) in such a way that it integrated nicely into their style of note taking. For example, we had them imagine “symptoms” as “parts crying for help.” We underlined stuck places where tools from the Model could be used. Most helpful were the elements of the Model referred to as unblending, contracting, mapping, calming, and checking for availability of Self-energy. Using IFS techniques may gain more acceptance as we continue to work individually with “gate keepers” and military therapists. We see this as a mission for the Healing Corps.

Meeting Them at Their Comfort Level. We recognize how important it is in the IFS parlance for clients and therapists to be working in sufficient Self-energy; however, there are many clients for whom introspection is not a common practice and it is often inaccessible to them. We felt it would be better to introduce the concept of Self-energy by attaching it to the way clients have already (maybe unknowingly) experienced Self-energy. For example, it might be more fruitful to begin the discussion by building on clients’ life experiences and capturing moments when they may have felt “it”—what may have resembled a state of or wholeness—letting them flesh out what “it” means. Another idea is to ask veterans to list the reasons they enlisted in the military. Then, review the list together and draw parallels to the 8Cs. For example, connectivity can be seen as a vet’s desire to be part of “the military family,” and confidence and more courage are common words used by military recruiting.

For those interested in being part of this effort, please contact Outreach@FoundationIFS.org.

Psychological Resilience as a Selling Point. We also discovered that military personnel were keen on experiencing more psychological resilience, which we believe aligns nicely with Self-energy. (We called the 20-item exercise the “ASER: Availability of Self-Energy and Resilience.”) Psychological resilience seems to be a concept important to military personnel because it allows them to remain calm and flexible in stressful situations. Psychological resilience allows them to be better soldiers. On the other hand, discussions of Self-energy and “going inside and meditating” may be too triggering for this population. We found a mega-analysis by the Rand Group (2011)1 which defines psychological resilience that aligns nicely with Self-energy. Research demonstrating the correlation between Self-energy and psychological resilience could be a valuable tool to help demonstrate the value of the IFS model to the military culture.

Nature as Space for Healing. As therapists, we know that effective therapy depends on the trusting connection we have with clients. Many factors contribute to developing a trusting relationship and client buy-in to the model one uses. From the setting and décor of our office, to the exercises, examples, and language we use to connect, all are important considerations with this population. Is the normal clinical setting in a veterans’ hospital too triggering? We propose that a “safer,” more natural environment for our veteran groups is outside the office, in nature, hiking rather than sitting in a face-to-face configuration, even with a caring therapist. (See text box on the next page about our upcoming program.)

All of these observations have led to our next project.




Over the past year and a half, we have been working on a program for veterans which introduces IFS in a context more consistent with what we see as the military culture. We have modified language and exercises to fit the specific needs of this population. Veterans are provided the opportunity to do Self-led work outdoors, reconnecting with the healing powers of nature.

Our Emerging Program.

The IFS-Informed Nature retreat consists of two and a half days of workshops in a natural setting— in the woods, in cabins, or in tents. The retreat consists of individual-, group-, dyad-, and lecture-style activities helping participants connect with each other and with their internal system. The process begins with an overview of the IFS model using examples in nature. Parts are identified and be-friended during individual hikes and recorded in a field guide for journaling. Time for hiking and journaling may be one hour. Each person will have a “field buddy” with whom to share experiences. They all then meet in a larger group to witness the work of others and to plan an intention for the next hike. This completes one cycle of work. During the 2 ½-day workshop, we should have time for three or four of these cycles: reflection, hike with a part, write about the part, introduce your field buddy to the part, meet in large group to further clarify, and plan an intention for the next hike. In addition, we plan to offer exercises such as externalizing a part by finding a token to represent it.

Our conclusion is that the IFS model and philosophy which support it are ideally suited to the military and veteran population if we can describe it in terms they can relate to.

Our conclusion is that the IFS model and philosophy which support it are ideally suited to the military and veteran population if we can describe it in terms they can relate to. We believe it is our responsibility to align our messaging to the military culture and, when we do, the IFS-guided experience will be well-received. We believe that our nature program should prove to be a step in that direction.

As was compellingly stated in the last issue of OUTLOOK, suicide rates among the military are relatively too high (and yes, one suicide is one too many!). Many of us have seen the positive effects of the IFS modality when working with suicidal parts. The best gift IFS could deliver to our military veterans is to help address this very issue head-on by understanding suicidal ideations as impulses carried by extreme parts that could be listened to and their pain unburdened. We hypothesize that IFS therapy has the capacity to increase psychological resilience and Self-energy; integrating IFS into military trainings and post combat-debriefings could help reduce suicidal risks—which is by itself another possible line of research to be pursued.

We hypothesize that IFS therapy has the capacity to increase psychological resilience and Self-energy; integrating IFS into military trainings and post combat-debriefings could help reduce suicidal risks—which is by itself another possible line of research to be pursued.

No one is under any illusion that this work is easy or fast or that it will reach the population of military veterans and active duty servicemembers to scale any time soon. Yet, we need to proceed steadily and serve as many individuals as we can, as often as we can, for as long as we can.

1 Promoting Psychological Resilience in the U.S. Military. Lisa S. Meredith et al. A Joint Endeavor of Rand Health and the Rand National Defense Research Institute (2011). As seen on www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG996.html (August 2021)


Inside an IFS-Centered
Online Community

In this pandemic era, most of the world leaned heavily on social media and online interactions as a means of sustenance and sustainability. In a time when we were physically isolated from one another, social media platforms took on ever-increasing roles of providing connection and community. Facebook has been at the forefront of this social media revolution and IFS Institute was part of this movement 12 years ago with the creation of the Internal Family Systems Community Group, by Jenn Matheson, PhD, LMFT. Since that time, this community group has seen its share of changes and growth and now at the helm is IFS Institute’s Online Business Manager, Sara Oberg.

Sara joined IFS Institute approximately three years ago and she oversees all the online learning for IFS Institute including all of the courses, webinar programs, and online programming. Sara is responsible for production, marketing, social media,and customer support for all online operations. Additionally, she oversees IFS Institute’s partnering with PESI. Some of IFS Institute’s programs have their own private Facebook groups, such as the IFS Circle and the IFS Continuity groups, but these groups are only open to members that are participating in those forums.

The IFS Community Group is a uniquely distinct group, in that no formal membership or affiliation with IFS Institute is required. Additionally, it is not comprised solely of practitioners of the Model or even those possessing a familiarity with it. Rather, it is an open-ended group and includes individuals who may be interested in or wondering about the Model, or who have even been referred by their therapists or coaches to explore their parts in a community of like-minded people. The IFS Community Group is a place where people can share stories of their IFS journey, ask questions, provide resources, and articulate experiences with parts and Self.

When Sara began overseeing the IFS Community Group in 2018, the membership was 6,000 people. Three years later, that number has grown to 14,500 members. This substantial growth in membership is consistent with the growth of the awareness of IFS model and the heightened requests for more education and trainings. In order to join the IFS Community Group, you must answer a brief series of three questions and agree to comply with the rules of the group. While all parts are welcomed, boundaries ensure the safety of the community. Key word alerts ensure the safety of community members, as the community group is designed only for connection and community and is not to be utilized for professional or educational purposes.

About a year ago, Sara brought on four volunteer moderators to assist with managing the nearly 700-800 posts a month, overseeing the membership requests, answering questions, enforcing community rules, and generally reviewing the content to ensure that there are no promotional agendas and/or no inappropriate content. Current volunteer moderators include Raphaela Carrière, PhD, Psychologist, (Greater Geneva Area, Switzerland); Stephanie Mitchell, Psychotherapist, Level 3 IFS Practitioner, (Adelaide, Australia); Jennifer Tewell, MSW, LMSW, (Louisiana, USA); and Theresa Walsh Velendzas, MS, Wellness Coach, Level 3 Certified Practitioner, (Connecticut, USA).

The group seems to lend itself to community healing by assisting people with accessing Self leadership and by providing examples of Self-energy.

The original reasons for the creation of this IFS Community Group were unknown to Sara, but she elaborated that the community group has likely continued over the years because members find it to be a group where they can receive support and share experiences. The group seems to lend itself to community healing by assisting people with accessing Self leadership and by providing examples of Self-energy. While Sara emphasized that at times, there are “participants expressing the view of their reactive parts,” there are always some comments and responses that demonstrate Self-energy. Additionally, the group, like any group, can be polarizing and activating and therefore provides valuable trailheads for group members. For example, if members are activated by a post or comment, they can do a U-turn and ask themselves what is coming up in them that made them react to a particular person’s post or comment in that way. It can provide a guidepost towards inner work.

“...if members are activated by a post or comment, they can do a U-turn and ask themselves what is coming up in them that made them react to a particular person’s post or person’s comment in that way. It can provide a guidepost towards inner work.”

Sara pointed out the future vision of the IFS Community Group is evolving on a day-to-day basis. It is an exciting time, and so many things are in transition right now for the organization and the world at large. While everything may be in flux, one thing seems certain, and that is that IFS Institute is committed to furthering the understanding and use of the Model, both in peoples’ personal and professional lives and for creating spaces for people to explore and learn in the process. As the group expands in numbers and in interest, IFS Institute is exploring ways for different groups to connect. Those wanting to explore the Model for their own development may have different priorities from therapists who are wondering about the application of the Model to their client work, and the Institute is exploring better ways to serve the individual needs of each group in the future. Other IFS Institute groups have already formed and there is now an IFS Level 1 Graduate Group that has approximately 900 members. For interested, please visit these IFS-based groups: IFS Level 1 graduates and IFS Community Group. _MR

Editor’s Note: OUTLOOK has expanded incrementally over the years. With an ever-increasing plethora of articles to impart to our readers on all things IFS, we’ve enlisted a reserve of volunteer writers. Melissa Rochman, PsyD, is one such volunteer writer. She is an IFS therapist practicing in Voorhees, NJ. The Foundation is grateful for her debut article. If you’d like to volunteer as a writer for OUTLOOK, please email Outreach@FoundationIFS.org. _MG

Sponsored SPACE

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.

Special Value:

$20 for each card-packet
(set of eight cards with all Cs, with white envelopes)

$22 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.)

Have questions?

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.)



Toward Deeper Healing For Military Veterans & Servicemembers Affected by the Painful Traumas of War

Are you a member of one or more of these groups:

  • Military veterans or active-duty personnel
  • IFS therapists or coaches serving veterans, people in the military, or military families (in private practice, through community agencies, or at federally affiliated hospitals or centers)
  • Advocates for more effective services and clinical treatments for veterans and servicemembers.
  • If so, the Foundation for Self Leadership invites you to join a growing IFS-for-veterans advocacy community and take part in programs, discussions, and activities of interest.

    Start by becoming a friend of the Foundation and select “IFS for Veterans” as a program of relevance.

Opening panel discussions/town-hall conversations

“Making IFS Therapy Accessible
to Veterans & the Military

Fridays, November 19,
December 3 and 17, 2021
2-4 pm Eastern US



the Part
I Thought
Was Me

by Fatimah Finney, MA, LMHC
and Assistant Trainer Mentee

“I don’t believe you.” I felt like a deer caught in the headlights. Instead of a car coming at me, it was a monumental existential crisis coming to split open the perfect sense of self I had subconsciously crafted. Let me set the scene.

I had recently finished a year-long IFS Level 1 training, where I learned about parts and Self-energy and the healing that could be experienced with a Self-led internal system. I had the six Fs down and knew more about some of my own parts and what they needed. (Editor’s note: the six Fs of the IFS model help locate and establish relationship with parts. They are: Find; Focus; Flesh out; Feel toward; beFriend; Fear.)

I was a believer. Before the end of the training, I had signed up for a weekend intensive on IFS and Yoga and had already started meeting with Level 1 peers for a monthly practice group. I was already doing very well “with this IFS thing” and was on my way to becoming a great IFS practitioner. Or so I thought.

During our practice group, we invited a more experienced IFS practitioner to lead the group to help us deepen our skills. I was a little nervous but mostly excited to work with this practitioner. How great would it be to say I’ve done work with this person? I was in the role of therapist and he was the client. I was ready. Find, Feel, Focus, Flesh, Befriend, Fear. I was ready to jump in and show what I knew. I was ready for this to be the demonstration in which he didn’t need to pause; instead, he would be so impressed with my skills.

But in the midst of me giving him my validating statements, he stopped and said, “I don’t believe you.” Those words were the first crack in the façade. The initial tremor foreshadowed a bigger impact to the system that was yet to come. Naturally, my protectors showed up with vengeance: Did he not know the positive remarks I had received from peers and even staff from my Level 1 training? Did he not hear how precise I was in going through the six Fs with him and how well I knew the flow of the Model? I had a great deal of respect and admiration for this man up until this very moment. Who did he think he was? My respectful parts spoke and said, “I don’t understand; I was following the Model. Did I do something wrong?” He replied, “I get what you’re doing, but it’s more than that. I don’t feel like you really get what I’m saying. I don’t feel like you care.”

I made it through the rest of the role play somehow, but something in me was different. I was unsettled. The part of me that worked so hard to do the right thing and to do it well was not enough. Worse still, she was not even necessary. The client needed the opposite of a curated therapeutic statement. He wanted real connection and could intuitively sense that my focus was not on him. And to be truthful: it was not! I was focused on doing well and looking good. And I always had. That’s when it hit me. I have always had an agenda, and only protectors have agendas. So, who was I really, if I spent the majority of my life in a part? It was painful and destabilizing to recognize that who I’ve known myself to be was in fact just a part of me. At the same time, something in me felt a sense of relief. There was a small sense of agreement and knowing that I did not understand. I had anxious parts show up. If he didn’t “believe” me, who else didn’t believe me? What else could other people see about me that I couldn’t?

And then it happened again; “I don’t believe you.” This time it was my husband responding to a text I sent him about looking forward to raising a family with him one day. This was the quake that forced me to take a look at myself. What was I doing wrong? Who am I really? And what does she want? Why are her words not aligning with her intentions?

These two instances happened almost two years ago and started me on a personal investigation of my parts. I have worked with, and continue to work with my biggest manager who I thought was “me” up until that moment. I have learned more about the parts that she protects and am working to get to know what she would rather be doing. As hard as it has been, the work of actually internalizing the Model and applying the Model to myself instead of using it as a tool for my clients has helped me in the way it was originally intended. I have no doubt that my manager took my Level 1 training. This time around though, as I show up as a program assistant for a Level 1 training, I am aware of the impact of getting to know this protector these last two years. She has allowed me to be the one who leads my system as I support others learning this Model for the first time. And for that shift, I am grateful.

Fatimah Finney, MA, LMHC

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, especially among groups that do not have ready access to IFS.


The board and the Foundation’s executive function are supported by staff associates who often go beyond the call of duty. (While it’s not obvious given their high-level productivity, together, these associates’ formal engagement amounts to the equivalent of fewer than 80 hours a week.) The Foundation is highly appreciative of their dedication.

Judy Bourdeau
Database Administrator

Desmond Butler, MA
Operations Associate

Shaun Dempsey, PhD
OUTLOOK Assistant Editor

Daniel Fermin
Financial Controller

Toufic Hakim, PhD
Executive Director

Michelle Glass, CIFSP

Josh Lisojo, MS
Website Programmer and Developer

Barbara Perkins, MA
Senior Associate Director for Development & Communications

Ilanit Tal, PhD
Associate Director for Research

The Foundation’s operation is aptly
supported by three volunteer associates:

Anne Eberhardt, Dipl-Psych, Archiving
Kathleen Johnson, MD, Development Data Support
Jenn Matheson, PhD, LMFT, Lead Curator
of IFS Publications Database




Visit us at www.FoundationIFS.org


Copyright © 2021 Foundation for Self Leadership | P.O. Box 873 | Union, NJ 07083 | USA

About IFS


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)

Stewart Brown, PhD, Psychologist
in Private Practice, USA (2023)

Lester Fagen, MA, JD; Partner in Business
Office of Cooley, LLP, USA (2021)

Kelly Gaule, CAP, Leading Principal,
Promus+ Consulting (2023)

Toufic Hakim, PhD; Senior Managing Principal,
Group i&i consultancy, USA; (2022) — Executive
Director and Founding Publisher of OUTLOOK

Sady Kim-Singh, MSW, LCSW, Social Worker
in Private Practice, USA (2023)

Vicki McCoy, MA, President, McCoy
Communications and Training,
USA (2022) — Chair

Editor’s Note: As Editor of OUTLOOK, I want to express my appreciation for the countless emails and time consuming efforts Shelia has put into the final production of the magazine. In some cases, she’s gone above and beyond duty to locate just the right components we needed at each new stage to catapult OUTLOOK into its next phase. I always felt in good hands with her growing expertise, from paper choices, to ink coloration, to envelopes. More importantly, she and her team were often able to work with us on tight deadlines for our production, especially when it came time for the Annual IFS Conference dates. Thank you, Shelia, for all ways you helped me grow in my role. I look forward to seeing you around town! __MG


OUTLOOK is an occasional 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 graphics design; Joshua Lisojo, MS, for online content; Barbara Perkins, MA, for contributing Foundation-related content; and Kira Freed, MA, BCC, LPC (ret.); Brenda Hollingsworth, MSW, LCSW; Karen Locke, MA; and Laura Taylor, JD, for proofreading.

What would you like to see in OUTLOOK?


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.

Contributors' Circle

As an independent not-for-profit partner to IFS Institute,
your Foundation for Self Leadership is an active member of the IFS
community, working with you to bring Self leadership to the world.

This work is possible because of contributions from IFS practitioners,
researchers, advocates, and clients like you. Through annual and monthly gifts
to the Fund for Self Leadership and multi-year pledges to special projects, this
support is broadening access to IFS and expanding rigorous IFS research.

Join us today!

For all those who are able to discover their parts and lead
from a place of Self because of your support, thank you.

Randi Cutler, LMFT

Randi is a holistic family therapist, specializing in couples and grief work, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We caught up with her (and her five-month old daughter, Dannie Dazzle) by Zoom recently.

How does the IFS modality further your work with couples?

I find that if couples-work begins in the relationship with the Self, then you can go a lot further and deeper. The stronger our connection is internally, the more we can be patient and compassionate with our partner’s system. IFS gives us a pathway inward that helps build relationships with our parts.

Where were you introduced to IFS?

I feel so lucky. I attended the Family Institute at Northwestern University. In my first year, I took a class on “Self and the System” with Nancy Burgoyne, PhD, where we got to try on the multidimensionality of our own inner worlds. Then in my second year, Gretchen King, LMFT and IFS Assistant Trainer, was my group and individual supervisor.

I found there was something about the presence of someone who knows this Model, who has that relationship with their Self—they just show up differently, with a certain groundedness. Literally, you can feel Self-energy. And the approach is just so beautiful. It begins with immense respect for the person’s protective system. It requires a certain humility on the part of the therapist because I am not doing the work for my client. The client is doing that work with themselves.

The Foundation is working to fund more research on IFS. What do you think about that strategy?

I think about a modality like CBT that already has so much research behind it. The more evidence there is that IFS is effective, the more widespread it will become. That’s important! I believe that IFS gives us language for our inner experience, and a way to bring healing in ways that more pathologizing modalities do not.

To me, clients are so much more than a disorder. I have trouble with the prescriptive approach of the diagnostic manual and insurance billing.

The IFS paradigm sees the whole person, and all those parts in context. With more scientific evidence, we can take this fundamentally human-centered approach to so many different populations, in so many different settings.

You support the mission of the Foundation through philanthropic giving. Why?

I donate to the Foundation because IFS changed the way I see and understand human beings, human nature, the interplay between people in relationship, and the whole concept of healing. It’s important to me to contribute to this cause, which both brings more of that into the world and supports the people who are already doing this work.

Why do you support the Foundation’s mission?

Help inspire others by sharing your story. Please contact Barbara Perkins, MA, Senior Associate Director for Development & Communications, at



Meet Recent Volunteers and Affiliates...

Marushka Glissen, MA, LICSW, is a certified IFS therapist and Assistant Trainer. She has been in private practice for over 25 years working with couples and individuals in Newton, MA. She has been an AT since 2008 and was a program assistant many times before becoming a trainer. “IFS continues to remind me to keep my heart open, be present to whatever is happening around me, and get through my professional and personal life with as much love as possible,” Marushka reflects upon her appreciation of the Model. “IFS is more a guide to life than a model and I will be eternally grateful to Richard Schwartz for bringing it into the world.”

Marushka has long been a supporter of the Foundation. She has volunteered her time in this edition with her debut article, Israelis And Palestinians Collective Healing: Healing our Trauma Together and her personal Story of Transformation: Marushka’s Story, see page 47. She is particularly interested in legacy burdens and collective healing, being an only child of two Holocaust survivors.

Of her volunteerism with the Foundation, Marushka shares, “I am honored to be asked to write an article for OUTLOOK magazine. I am so grateful to the Foundation for expanding the way IFS is used around the world, by publishing articles and making IFS accessible to everyone, even people who haven’t taken the training.”

Since 2012, Marushka has traveled to places where genocide has occurred with an organization called the Zen Peacemakers. Bearing witness to others with different experiences like the Oglala Native Americans in South Dakota, or listening at places like Auschwitz to both what is stated and what isn’t, opens the heart and brings connection rather than separation. Studying legacy burdens and helping clients transform by identifying their own, has been a passion for her. In addition, Marushka has two adult sons who mean the world to her. Her love for them has been a catalyst for doing her own work to free them of the burdens she carried. She believes her dedication to doing her own internal work has helped her no longer transmit her burdens to her children, and to utilize the gifts or heirlooms that she discovered once she identified her ancestral burdens and let them go.

Melissa Rochman, PsyD, is a licensed psychologist in Voorhees, NJ. She worked in mental health for many years before attaining licensure in 2002, and works in both a private practice setting and an intensive residential treatment center for adolescents. She specializes in trauma and IFS and spirituality, serving adults and adolescents in her private practice. In the residential treatment center, she performs psychological testing and completes psychological evaluations on adolescents. “The IFS model has changed the face of my work and therapy and has provided me with a theoretical model that previously eluded me throughout my career,” Melissa says after learning IFS in 2020.

Melissa contributed a poem in the May 2021 OUTLOOK, and wrote an article for this current edition called Inside an IFS-Centered Online Community, see page 63. “I volunteered to write for the OUTLOOK magazine because my Self-energy is infused with the C of creativity,” she shares. She also informed her parts that writing would bring greater harmony to her system, especially if it focused on her passion for all things IFS. “Additionally, I support the mission of the Foundation and its dedication to establishing IFS as an evidence-based model and expanding the influence of the Model to all spheres of our global community,” she enthusiastically reports. “If I can do my part to contribute to that mission, my parts are all in favor and Self is full-steam ahead.”

Shelia Woody, Rockstar, is the Project Manager at instaprint* in Eugene, OR. Instaprint has been the printing house for OUTLOOK since inception. Shelia has worked with the company for the past five years, setting in motion and working closely with the production team to ensure that each job reaches completion in a timely manner. She most enjoys two things about her position: (1) getting to be the final step in helping people bring their projects to life—whether it be a book, a greeting card, or an employee handbook built from scratch. “The ‘Wow’ factor comes in to play, it’s such a privilege to be part of that,” she remarks, and (2) getting to be a part of a business’ or organization’s transformation and growth—witnessing new companies who come in starting from scratch and seeing them grow into big successful businesses.

Those two pieces directly relate to production of OUTLOOK, which was the first project she coordinated on her own. “When I first started working with Michelle on production of the magazine, I was really new to instaprint. Even though at that time it was a much smaller publication than what it has grown to be today, it was the biggest and most intimidating project I had been a part of,” Shelia shares. “To date, it is the most gratifying project I get to be a part of. I learned so much just being the project manager for OUTLOOK in general, but through its growth as well. What started as a small saddle stitched booklet, has evolved into a very professional perfect-bound publication. I am proud to have been a part of making OUTLOOK what it is today, and I’m so thankful that you allowed me the opportunity to work and grow with you and the magazine.”

* Instaprint and QSL Print Communications are owned by the Koke Family, who have been proudly serving Lane County, OR since 1907. The company is in its fourth generation of ownership, led by Melissa Koke, Keri Ortiz, and Ryan Koke. Before the Koke Family purchased instaprint, it served Lane County for over 30 years. For more about the company, visit their website.


Organizational Update

Request for Foundation
Board Member Nominations

ABOUT THE BOARD: The Foundation for Self Leadership’s Board of Directors serves as the organization’s governing body. It is constituted to support the long-term goals and needs of the organization, direct the organization toward its stated purpose, which the board will establish, with integrity and accountability to its community of constituents and beneficiaries. (From Policy on Board Membership & Expectations, Updated December 6, 2019)

Members of the board volunteer their time of service, except for the executive director, who receives a nominal stipend for engaging in organizational and operational leadership.

Serving on behalf of the broader community of IFS practitioners and the helping professions, the board holds fiduciary and legal responsibility for the Foundation.

Its multi-faceted function is to set a clear, long-term path for the organization, with near-term milestones; and oversee the executive function, which is charged with identifying and pursuing strategies aligned with the established vision and consistent with stated priorities.

Two of the board’s important roles are (1) to stay connected with the constituency it represents and on whose behalf the Foundation operates; and (2) to engage in its own growth and development as a collective body.

At this stage in its evolution, the board intends to expand its membership to 11 from its current size of seven members. Toward that goal, it is reaching out to the community for nominations.

In its policy on Board Membership & Expectations, and in an effort to be fully representative, the board explicitly affirms that it will endeavor to be diverse and inclusive in its membership, with no reservation, across a number of areas: gender and sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, age, country of residence, economic status, academic background, professional experience and training, and even pre-membership familiarity with IFS. The primary goal is to fulfill its responsibilities the best way it can, enriched by as wide a range of perspectives and experiences as possible.

The board is currently seeking to engage four new members, the term of service being three years, renewable, with proven experience and accomplishments in one of these domains:

  • Research, preferably in mental health or behavioral science

  • Corporate leadership or management

  • Accounting or finance.

Members of the community are invited to make nominations by sending names and email addresses of qualified individuals, as instructed below, after the nomination is cleared with the individual you are nominating. Alternatively, individuals may submit an up-to-one-page bio and a statement of interest. Qualified candidates for membership will be asked to submit a CV and a statement of interest. They will be then interviewed by two existing members of the board and then by the full board before being invited to serve.

Please send nominations to Vicki J. McCoy, Chair (VJM@FoundationIFS.org), copying Toufic Hakim, Executive Director (Toufic@FoundationIFS.org).

Thank you for your interest.


The Foundation for Self Leadership and its sister organization, IFS Institute, are launching a new IFS Leadership Fellows program in 2022 and searching for 10 potential leaders for the inaugural cohort from the Global Majority and LGBTQIA+ communities, with the intention to contribute to greater societal inclusion, equity, and access.

IFS Leadership
Fellows Program


  • Are already making, or interested in making, a significant difference in their community, community agency, or organization.

  • Are looking to deepen their capacity for facilitating change and healing.

  • Desire to continue their personal growth and harness their untapped inner potential as leaders.

The Foundation and Institute consider for this Program change agents from among life or business coaches, psychotherapists, community agency directors or coordinators, social activists, faithbased leaders, or other community influencers who have taken on, or aspire to, leadership roles in their community. Participants will engage at an impactful level in championing positive change through deeper (inner and interpersonal) understanding across dimensions of culture, race, gender and ethnicity in our society.




Through a two-step selection process, 10 Fellows will be selected in Q4 of 2021 and will engage in the Program as a cohort.


  • IFS L1 or L2 training (100 hours in total)

  • Leadership Deepening Program + Mentorship + Peer Support (four hours per month)

  • Independent readings and inner work (two hours per month)

  • Plan of action for becoming community champions of social change and agents of healing


To support current and future leaders from BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities that have been traditionally marginalized by society due to issues around race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomics, immigration, among others.

It is important to note that, for the IFS Leadership Fellows Program, developing leadership is in service of change to ensure inclusion, equity and access to growth, healing, connection, and transformation of self and community—in the Fellows’ communities, the IFS community, and beyond.

For more information about the Program, please visit our website.

The Foundation thanks the Program’s Coordinating Team: Requina Barnes, LCSW; Chris Burrows, LPC, LMFT; Kathy Cox, MSW, LICSW; and Fatimah Finney, LMHC. Toufic Hakim, PhD, Foundation Executive Director, serves as the staff associate on the Team. (Requina is a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors; Chris is an IFS Lead Trainer and Diversity & Inclusion Consultant with IFS Institute; Kathy is an IFS Assistant Trainer; Requina and Fatimah are taking part in the Institute’s Accelerated Training Program.)


Harley Goldberg, DO
Chair Emeritus, Board of Directors,
Foundation for Self Leadership


A Dear Friend of the Foundation & IFS Community Has Moved On to the Beyond

The IFS community mourns the loss of Harley Goldberg, DO, former member and chair of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. Harley passed away peacefully at the end of July 2021 in his home in Washington State, overlooking Puget Sound. This was the end of a 21-month course of treatment for a glioblastoma, which he managed with the utmost dignity, gentleness, and grace. This was signature Harley.

A native of Michigan, Harley moved to Northern California in his early twenties and deeply studied several “alternative” healing arts. He ultimately pursued an Osteopathic Medical degree with a residency and board certification in Family Medicine and certification in Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine and Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine. For more than 30 years that followed, he served in various clinical and leadership capacities with the Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, Northern California, retiring as Physician/Executive.

Harley’s career reflected his passion for integrated healthcare based on solid evidence, research, comprehensive education, teamwork and sincere caring. Guided by his ability to engage both advocates and adversaries, he collaboratively established integrative healthcare systems in Spine Care, locally and regionally, and in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, for which he served as regional director.

His search for truth at all levels led him into research with clinical trials published in peer-reviewed journals.

He received a 2016 Morris F. Collen Research Award for his breakthrough NIH-funded research on steroids and sciatica, which appeared in the prestigious JAMA. He encouraged and helped his colleagues to pursue their own clinical questions with well-executed studies.

His delight in education earned him a regional award for educating his colleagues with CMEs, patient review groups and more. Near the end of his professional career, he was appointed Acting Dean at Boston University School of Medicine, Extension Campus, for which he established undergraduate rotations for medical students, and later initiated the Family Medicine and Psychiatry residencies at Kaiser Permanente “Silicon Valley” campuses.

Yet, Harley was unassuming; most of his colleagues on our board never even knew of his medical accomplishments. I only learned about these achievements most recently, after Harley was gone!

Harley was fully dedicated to whatever work he did. The work, however, did not appear to define him. Harley defined his work instead with his special caring nature and disposition, a natural gift which he had honed over time with dedicated spiritual practice.

When his friends and colleagues think of Harley, what comes to mind is his gentle and loving presence. He was an active listener who showed deep interest and compassion; he knew instinctively how to be encouraging—with his patients and colleagues, with members of the board, and with the Foundation’s constituents, regardless of the interaction. He was very generous with his ideas, donations, time and advice, when sought. He had a heartfelt commitment to the principles of IFS and the rigor necessary to successfully implement its use in many venues. And he was deeply spiritual; he carried Self-awareness and knowledge. When he faltered, like all of us often do, he was uniquely able to seek learnings and deeper growth from the experience.

I first heard Harley’s name back in 2012 from Richard and Jon Schwartz. Harley’s wife, Miriam, an IFS-trained psychotherapist, had introduced him to Dick at an IFS retreat in Tulum. When they returned, they took a long walk, together with Jon, on the beaches of Santa Cruz to discuss Harley’s interest in IFS and his vision of what is possible. With Harley’s background and skills, he could see far, with clarity and enthusiasm. Dick and Jon knew then they’d want him to serve on the Foundation’s board.

Then I met Harley in person at the 2013 IFS Conference in Providence, Rhode Island, at the Foundation board’s first in-person meeting. He was one of the board’s charter members and attended every IFS conference through 2019.

He served with vigor and commitment to the cause, bringing his knowledge of research, collaborative systems and organizational development, and integrated health to governance, with a special desire to help validate IFS and bring it into medical training and all levels of education and life. His tireless dedication was evident. He was unanimously elected chair of the board in 2016 and served in that capacity, giving it all he could and then some, until cancer interfered and dictated a different path.

There was an easy way about Harley. He had a contagious smile that generated goodwill and appreciation. He knew how to create a safe and welcoming space. To me, he was a special friend, with whom I always felt comfortable even when we had to discuss difficult issues. Many were the deep conversations I was fortunate to have with him over these few years. He was committed to social justice, conscious of his privilege, and always willing to engage in a lively conversation about how to improve the human condition on many different fronts. On the lighter side, he was a fan of computer technology, loved all things related to the ocean and how to care for it, and was enthusiastic about sports and being a team doctor for the San José Sharks hockey team.

When asked what action that he would like people to take up in his name, he would say: “Kindness.” I shall miss him dearly... his smile, his encouragement... and the playful moments of Harley being Harley.

__Toufic Hakim, PhD, Foundation’s Executive Director




Where Clinical Expertise Meets
Research Excellence

Editor’s Note: As an IFS clinician and trainer with a special interest in research, who had a pivotal role in the certification of IFS as an evidence-based practice in the SAMHSA registry, the contribution of Nancy Sowell, MSW, LICSW, to the success of the Model cannot be overstated. Having said that, Nancy is not resting on her laurels and continues to focus on the positive role of many others in the IFS world with whom she has collaborated, at the same time emanating a passion and excitement for her own ongoing work ahead. Spend some time with us as we get to know Nancy and unpack some of the important developments in the journey of the Model. __SD

As a behavioral medicine specialist with experience in biofeedback, Nancy had witnessed the profound connection between the mind and the body, but it was not until the summer of 2004 when she attended a Cape Cod Institute workshop with Richard Schwartz, PhD, that she heard the IFS Model described in-depth and then made links between her own work as a clinician, her own experience with difficult thoughts and emotions, and the role of IFS as a healing methodology. Soon after, she attended Dick and Toni Herbine-Blank’s, RN, MS, CS-P, retreat at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and was swept away directly experiencing the possibilities for healing. “I felt it in my bones,” emphasizes Nancy. “I felt it shoot through me like a lightning bolt of hope, connection, and attunement. IFS resonated with me deeply in terms of what I was seeing and hearing, and I began to do everything I could to learn more about the Model.”

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Nancy attended a Level 1 training in 2005 conducted by Dick, Toni Herbine-Blank, and Mike Elkin, MA, LMFT, experiencing a deep connection to, and sharing a profound experience with her fellow participants. This bonded many of them for life. She also began to experience significant changes in her own physical and emotional health, with a chronic and severe arthritis condition responding dramatically to her own work with her parts, and a strong anxiety around public speaking yielding to the gently healing capacities of the Model. “I was constantly vibrating inside and anxious when required to speak in front of others,” observes Nancy, “but now I really enjoy teaching and presenting to groups.” Nancy says that before her own work using IFS she experienced a significant polarization, and she had the tendency to exile her power such that any part which had powerful or truth telling energy was dismissed. Addressing this polarization set off a whole cascade of positive consequences which allowed her to come closer to her personal power and set her on a course of investigating her trailheads about performance anxiety.

In 2008, Nancy went to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston to meet with Nancy Shadick, MD, MPH, regarding a possible research project using IFS to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The pair consulted with Dick Schwartz regularly while collaborating on the intervention design, including the combination of group and individual treatment. Nancy became the IFS Behavioral Medicine manager and co-creator of the Rheumatoid Arthritis Study, with Dr. Shadick serving as the Principal Investigator, and Dick acting as the consultant on the project. As the IFS Behavioral Medicine manager,

“It was a game changer” and allowed the Model to be legitimately referred to as a valid treatment option in private practice, schools, the VA, and many other domains.

Nancy facilitated the intervention groups, saw patients individually, and, together with Dick, offered clinical supervision to the IFS therapists treating some of the patients in their private practices.

Nancy remembers the profound impact of the work and noted most of the patients had never been in therapy. Consequently, talking about their illness was new to most of them, and it was hard for many of the participants to put their feelings into words. But the academic rigor with which the study was set up, combined with the depth of the intervention, yielded significant results. IFS was certified as an evidence-based practice, forever changing the interface between the Model, funding bodies, and all clients receiving the treatment. Put quite simply, Nancy says, “It was a game changer” and allowed the Model to be legitimately referred to as a valid treatment option in private practice, schools, the VA, and many other domains.

Nancy was quick to acknowledge the roles of Dr. Shadick, the research team at BWH, and the IFS clinicians who contributed their time despite their busy private practice hours. In particular, Nancy points out the role of Jon Schwartz, MEd, former CEO of IFS Institute, in realizing the need for IFS research, and Toufic Hakim, PhD, at the IFS Foundation who had the vision to use the results to obtain certification in the SAMHSA registry. “Toufic’s generosity of time and strategic vision, not to mention his resolve to complete and submit the substantial amount of paperwork, was pivotal to the whole process, and I will always feel indebted and grateful to Toufic and Jon for their leadership and determination,” she acknowledges.

Nancy has carried on combining her interests in teaching and research at the Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching institution for the Harvard Medical School, where she has been affiliated for over 20 years. She remains active consulting on new IFS research, conducting Level I and Level 2 trainings and acting as the Co-director of IFS Training with Martha Sweezy, PhD, and Zev Schuman-Olivier, MD, who directs the Center for Mindfulness and Compassion. Nancy is also in discussion with IFS Institute to develop a Level 2 program based on the teaching she has done in recent years on using IFS for physical disease and medical problems. But her gaze has also turned internationally as she actively identifies and mentors promising IFS therapists who are looking for opportunities both inside and outside of the USA. In this domain, she is a strong advocate for the development of a more diverse and representative pool of IFS trainers to ensure inclusivity of the Model in providing a formal pathway for potential international trainers. Nancy can be contacted at: ns@nancysowell.com.

Discovering the
Gifts of My Exiles:

with My True Self

by Paul Neustadt, MSS,
LICSW, IFS Lead Trainer

For most of my life I felt extremely insecure and intensely uncomfortable in social situations. I believed there was something terribly wrong with me that I had to keep hidden. Either I was shut down and disconnected emotionally or I was feeling intensely needy of approval and reassurance that I was okay. And I was ashamed of my neediness.

I believe I became a psychotherapist out of a desperate hope that I would figure out how to fix myself. Instead, I had to work hard to create the impression, for myself as well as for others, that I was a successful therapist and teacher and that I was relatively healthy internally. Underneath that mask, I knew I was a fraud. And I was always afraid of being discovered.

I remember many times going out to dinner with close friends and having nothing to say because a part of me was convinced I would show how self-centered and vulnerable I was. My experiences as an adult seemed to confirm my fears. No one else seemed so uncomfortable. I felt compelled to share my vulnerability in hopes of being met with acceptance and finding someone else who felt the same way. But I was convinced I would only make other people uncomfortable and suffer a backlash of intense shame.

Self Discovered. My IFS Level 1 training was a revelation. I was able to recognize my beliefs as the beliefs of parts and the consequences of childhood experiences. The insecurity and discomfort in social situations was a result of early experiences of humiliation. I realized I could actually have a relationship with my numerous parts, and I discovered that I, too, had a wise, compassionate Self. And to top it all off, I finally fulfilled a lifelong dream of finding a community where I really belonged. I was not, as I thought, the only one who carried such terrible burdens.

As powerful as this experience was, my transformation was gradual. I discovered that many of my exiles were either deeply buried or else taking over in ways that left me caught in shame and feelings of being disabled. My managers were so effective in disconnecting me from my inner experience that trying to connect with my parts was a very slow-going process. One of the early healing experiences I had with my first IFS therapist occurred when I was finding myself blank and unable to connect with a part and I was feeling ashamed of this in front of my therapist. In response, she conveyed complete acceptance of my process and my slowness and helped me to accept and honor the pace of development that my parts needed.

Another powerful experience was connecting with one of my key managers who had been totally focused on getting things done and accomplishing goals. He always had his nose to the grindstone and never took time to appreciate accomplishments. As soon as one thing was accomplished, he was onto the next. Once he felt my acceptance, he was able to pause, and then let me know how he was protecting me from feeling what a failure of a human being I was. I was then able to connect with, and unburden, the exile holding that burden. Unburdening this manager of his burdensome job was huge in itself, as he was responsible for the heaviness and low-level depression that I had felt for such a long time. Once unburdened, he was able to focus on enjoying some of the projects he took on and letting us feel good when we accomplished something.

Healing Wounds from Childhood. One of the powerful wounding experiences of my childhood occurred when I returned from summer camp at the age of nine. I had learned at this camp to clean up after meals by brushing crumbs off the table onto the floor and then sweeping them up. I wanted to show my parents what I had learned so I did the same thing after dinner. To my shock, my father reacted with rage and humiliated me for being so stupid. This nine-year-old Paul took on a number of burdens: the feeling of humiliation; the feeling that I wasn’t good enough for my father—that what I thought was good was clearly not good in my father’s eyes; hence, this part carried doubt about my goodness. There were a number of other experiences of being yelled at by my father that this part showed me; but this one seemed to represent the impact that these experiences had.

In the process of witnessing this young Paul’s experience, I came to recognize his deep inherent goodness, a goodness that had never been mirrored back to him. As I appreciated the way his goodness radiated from his being, my other parts took notice, which made it much easier for them to support the process of letting go of the negative beliefs they had also carried. Then, after unburdening this young Paul, I realized that that quality of goodness was not just an aspect of that one part: rather, it was an aspect of my true Self that I had never recognized; it was only after recognizing it in that young version of me that I was able to realize it was part of my essence or true Self. Liberating this young Paul of his burden and bringing him more fully into my being connected me with something that I had been missing: a sense of my own goodness. After this experience, I learned to look for the gifts each of my exiles held, and in every case have found myself reconnecting with a precious aspect of my True Self.

Healing as a Process. It was 21 years ago that I took the Level 1 training. Since then, I have been on an amazing healing journey that still continues. As life has presented new challenges, I have recognized more vulnerable parts needing attention. At times, I have lost my way; yet, I have gained a deep sense of self-acceptance and clarity about my life purpose not available to me before. I now see myself as a spiritual being in a human body living a very human life with multiple, very human parts. IFS has helped me integrate aspects of my life that once felt disconnected: my spirituality, my commitment to social justice, my inner healing, and how I live my daily life and relate to other people. Two things I would like to share that have been very helpful in my journey: (1) Whenever life brings me a painful, difficult experience—what can feel like a real blow and a huge disappointment to my parts—I need to honor the experience of my parts and also become curious: How might this be an opportunity for me to learn something important and grow? (2) It’s okay if sometimes my parts get so blended that I need help from someone else to be with me and support me until that part feels held enough to unblend.

My story would be incomplete if I didn’t share briefly about the latest chapter. I am grateful that in the last few years I have been able to deepen my own journey and work with the cultural and historical burdens of white supremacy, racism, patriarchy, and individualism. Both as a trainer and as a human being, it’s been extremely painful at times. Most important, I’ve learned about the destructive impact those burdens have had on me, not just on others. It has deepened and enlarged my perspective on trauma and opened my eyes to many things. In particular, I recognize the ingrained burden of thinking our problems are only our own, experiencing ourselves as so separate and disconnected from others. No! My trauma is part of a collective trauma. And an essential part of healing that collective trauma needs to be communal. Just as being part of a Level 1 training is so healing for many of us.

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Publisher’s Note: In this new
OUTLOOK department, excerpts from
works of IFS authors will be featured.

In this first helping, following are
excerpts from the Afterword of the
book by Marcel Duclos, LCMHC, LPC,
ACS, The Elusive SELF: Reflections of
an Internal Family Systems Therapist

(Black Forest Publishing, 2019). This
book presents a profound, thoughtful,
and critical analysis of how thinkers
and writers (including Freud, Jung,
and James) across many schools and
fields (including mystical Judaism
and body psychotherapy) have
interpreted the concept of the core
self and how these interpretations
mesh with the IFS view.

Quoting from a book review by Adam Bambury
in the International Body Psychotherapy Journal
(Vol.20, No.1, 2021), Marcel presents “a threeself
model” in which he compares and contrasts
notions of “self (ego), with Self (self-functioning
through the wisdom-qualities of SELF), and SELF
(the Imago Dei, the Other, the Source),” and
shares autobiographical links from some of the
“painful experiences that have informed who he
is today.” __TH

That is the
goal that all
parts enter into
a communion
__Matthew Fox


The Elusive SELF:
Reflections of an
Internal Family
Systems Therapist

by Marcel Aimé Duclos Adapted from the AFTERWORD

The SELF is always present. The source of all is always present. Without ITS energia, nothing exists, nothing functions. The SELF is beyond the touch of any and all other entities. SELF is within and without time, in and outside of place, before and after all that is and is not. SELF defines everything, not only the what but also the who, the how, and the why of all that exists in the when and the where. Nothing has being without the SELF. It is in and by and through ITS omnipresence that the Elusive SELF lies beyond our capacity to grasp ITS limitless essence as one and multiple. Everything and everyone are in the SELF’s image and likeness. Nothing can possibly be a self-originating separate entity, not even the human person endowed with the gift of multiplicity and of evolving consciousness. Parts, subpersonalities, aspects, neural networks, and other terms refer to those multiple ways in which our multiplicity has its existential being and in which the SELF’s multidimensional essence manifests.

Nothing and no one can change the SELF in any way. Some would agree that it is the fate, destiny, and mission of the self to evolve into a Self. Others would add that the SELF is expanding and that this expansion involves the evolution of the individual self into a SELF-led Self, thus increasing the SELF-Energy on our planet, in our solar system, in our galaxy, in the expanding universe until all returns to its origin—the ALL, the Ein Sof, the OTHER, the SOURCE—now mysteriously more aware than at the moment of the first expansion. All a miracle, said Einstein.

With the 2020 second edition of Internal Family Systems Therapy, I am pleased to note that some of my earlier understandings have been confirmed and solidified, but not congealed. For example, I see the seat of consciousness to be the self, the “I”, the “me” that Freud experienced—a self that expands into a greater consciousness—the Self, the more that it is open to being SELF-led, the more that the multiplicities are differentiated (M. Bowen), individuated (Jung), and incarnated (S. McConnell), and welcomed into the whole for the good of the whole. In The Elusive SELF, I have attempted to reveal my own thinking to engage the IFS community into a conversation as it pertains to our use of the terms “self” and “Self” by proposing the language of SELF, self, and Self. I am ready to have the incomplete conceptualizations that follow dismissed for more scientifically operational descriptions and definitions.

The SELF is Compassion. The Self becomes compassionate the more hospitable it is to the energy of the SELF. The SELF is transcendent. The Self is ITS willing disciple and servant. The SELF’s energy can be obscured by burdened, misdirected, and ill-informed—although well-intentioned parts. The analogy of an eclipse may express the level and intensity of the barrier set up by internal states of mind, of parts. But like the sun, the SELF is never obliterated. In those moments, the SELF does not abandon the self on its developmental journey to becoming a SELF-Led Self.

Our soul, a holon of the SELF, participates in our emerging Selfhood, is energized in an organismic process by the SELF. It is the SELF-Led Self who incarnates, in actuality, perennial wisdom in, through and by individual behavior. When the self becomes a Self by embracing more and more of its multiplicity with the life-giving qualities of the SELF, and joins with other hospitable Selves, the myriad internal and external selves move toward a more peaceable kingdom—the actualization of the Common Good that belongs to everyone.

Over the ages, we humans have seen ourselves as incarnate spirits, rational animals, temporal biochemical organisms, persons, and more. We define ourselves without having a stance outside of ourselves to provide us an objective view. When scientific inquiry turns its attention on the self, the SELF, and the Self, it must bow in recognition of its limitations. Finding and connecting with the Elusive SELF necessitates radical hope, daring choice, courageous mistakes, and a disturbing integrity. Challenge enough for all.

To acknowledge the SELF as Elusive is to recognize that the SELF might be all that we say IT is and totally other than what we say IT is. This is our protection against hubris and idolatry.

Finding and connecting with the Elusive SELF necessitates radical hope, daring choice, courageous mistakes, and a disturbing integrity.

Publisher’s Note: At 82, Marcel, who resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is still in private practice as a psychotherapist. A Certified IFS Therapist, he has written about trauma and developed related curricula and courses. The Elusive Self has a rich academic flavor harking back to Marcel’s years as a professor of philosophy and psychology. His caregiving sensitivities from his early years as a chaplain, his decades as an engaging teacher and innovative college administrator, half a century as a caring clinician, and an abundance of muse and imagery honed as a published poet have influenced his engaging writing style, his inquisitive approach, and his clear thought process. To reach him, please write Marcel.Duclos@gmail.com. _TH


Meeting an Old Friend

by J. Arnold

Editor’s Note: Please be advised that the content of this story may be emotionally challenging to read. References are made to intimate partner abuse, sexual abuse, and pornography. You may need to be discerning if and when you choose to read it.

There I sat once again in the aftermath of what had just taken place. My mind a whirlwind of feelings and emotions that I could not even think to comprehend. I felt confused, unsure of how I had ended up in this mess. I knew I needed to leave, but it was always a struggle.

If I did, there would be no more sinister threats of claiming sexual abuse. No more slamming doors on my fingers or trying to hold me as I struggled to leave the apartment for space. No more getting my genitals emphatically grabbed or being yelled at for relapsing in my struggle against my porn compulsion. No more being led to believe that my family and friends were angry about my actions or them thinking I was mentally ill. No more locking myself in rooms for peace and safety. There would be no more of a lot of things. But I can’t leave. It’s too hard; I need her and don’t know why.

It was late 2017 when I had my first session with my clinical psychologist. The sessions at the beginning were taken up by narrating the events that happened between appointments. The sessions were my life raft. After about four or five months of therapy, I was confronted with the reality that I was in an abusive relationship, and I developed an understanding that it was essential for me to leave. This was a very powerful moment for me. Firstly, it drew to my attention the magnitude of the problem. Not only that, but it was also my first glimpse into myself. Knowing this, why can’t I just leave? What’s holding me there, and why am I a slave to it? I had tried to leave a few times, but I could never follow through. At this point in my life, all I knew was that the idea of leaving filled me with anxiety.

The sessions that followed were a mixture of damage control and trying to get in touch with this elusive part of me that wanted to stay in the relationship regardless of how I was treated. Going through the Internal Family Systems process consisted of me being led in meditation and getting to know the different parts of my system. I was encouraged to sit with these parts and describe them and their feelings, and then, if I was able, talk to them. I would ask simple questions like: “What do you need?” “For how long have you been around?” “Is there something you want me to know?” “Is there a way I can help you?”

To start off, I was a bit lost. I would ask these questions but receive no response. It felt silly that I was talking to myself in my head. But the more I was led in these meditation sessions, the easier it was for me to start to connect with these parts and to build a relationship with them. In doing so, I became aware of the fact that these feelings of anxiety that had made it hard for me to leave my relationship had occurred at various other points in my life. With a little more curiosity, the answer became painfully simple: I didn’t want to be alone, and I feared rejection. I couldn’t leave because a very loud part of me felt it needed my girlfriend in order to feel validated and desirable.

It took a year of hard work to finally leave my partner. And it was as painful as I had feared it would be. But through building an intimate relationship with that anxious part of myself and finding healthy ways to satisfy its needs, I was able to persevere. The whole separation process took a couple of months.

It wasn’t just in terms of leaving a dysfunctional relationship that I needed to get to know my parts. Not long after ending this relationship, my internal family grew by one more. I started to get in touch with another part of me that experienced similar feelings of panic and anxiety around setting boundaries and standing up for myself. As far back as I can remember, I have struggled with confrontation. I grew up trying to avoid conflict in my relationships with friends and partners. I was a man who would say yes when I needed to say no. I ignored my values for the sake of others and would not speak up when I was unfairly treated. I understood that I did all these things, but I could never figure out why, which was highly frustrating for me. After getting to know the part of me that was highly sensitive to rejection and being alone, I could see that this other part who had extreme feelings around fear of confrontation was closely related. It had similar fears, yet that part simply expressed itself in different scenarios.

Having built up some ability to now search myself and connect within, I found myself gaining Selfenergy and being able to say to that part, “Thank you for warning me of these possibilities and trying to protect me. I feel that these scenarios won’t happen but, even if they do, we’re going to be okay. No matter what, we can handle it.” The feeling I had when I was working from a place of Self-energy was in direct contrast to what I experienced when I was led by my parts. I felt calm, connected, and curious about what might happen next, and centered. Nevertheless, the process of tapping into Self-energy was not quick. As always, life is full of conflict. With each incident, I would be able to react with a bit more confidence than the time before. Because of this, I was able to slowly build a collection of positive experiences that would also help reassure my parts who felt panic and anxiety surrounding confrontation.

Now almost a year after leaving my abusive relationship, my internal family system continues to grow as I discover different parts of myself that are trying to protect and soothe me. The one who started it still speaks to me. Except that now, I know exactly what it needs. One might even call us old friends.



Over at IFS Institute

EDITORS’ NOTE: In addition to articles featuring the application of the Model by members of the IFS community, OUTLOOK endeavors to keep readers informed of developments with our sister organization, IFS Institute. While the Foundation and IFS Institute are connected in vision, we operate as separate entities. We believe our independent undertakings produce far-reaching consequences for individuals and society. Join us as we learn what is new at the Institute. _MG

  • The Institute is testing a new Level 1 format that will be piloted in late 2021. Inspired by schedules in academia, this training includes 14 bi-weekly sessions of four hours each, followed by one session of 4½ consecutive days. They will also be scheduling other types of hybrid Level 1s in 2022. Based on familiar formats, each of these hybrid trainings will feature a mix of online and onsite sessions. Once open for enrollment, training details will be available on the Institute’s website.
  • The Institute worked diligently to define guidelines for the use of IFS trademarks within the community. Details will be made public within the next month.
  • This past July, the Institute welcomed two new team members: Andrea M. Tanguay and Amanda Connell. Andrea is the Institute’s Chief of Staff and is working along with CEO, Katie Nelson, to facilitate the Institute’s domestic and international growth. Amanda is the new Executive Assistant to Richard Schwartz, PhD.
  • In continued efforts to create equitable access to IFS training programs, the Institute will deliver Level 1 training online to Arabic speaking professionals living in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. With the help of several IFS community members who are already working to introduce IFS into this region and some of those who presented at the IFS Conference in October, they plan to begin the training in 2022. (Editor's Note: See May 2021 OUTLOOK articles about IFS in the Arabic-speaking Middle East.)
  • In August, an enthusiastic group of over 1,000 participants engaged in the Institute’s new 6-week online course, Coaching for Self Leadership: An Introduction to Internal Family Systems. Taught by Brian Jaudon, and Guthrie Sayen, PhD, PCC, the program attracted a variety of coaches and provided a nine-hour overview of the basic foundations of IFS. Coaches who participated in the program and were certified through the International Coach Federation (ICF) were offered CCEs.
  • Founder of the Model, Richard Schwartz’s, PhD, newest book, No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model hit the market in July 2021. The new book uncovers an empowering new way of understanding your multifaceted mind—and healing the many parts that make you who you are. Copies are available on the Institute’s website or on Amazon.

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Please share with Spanish- speaking therapists in your network.


Question: Is there a difference between
the Foundation and the Institute?

Answer: Yes! Find out how:

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 communities otherwise underserved by IFS, and expanding the outreach and advocacy of IFS across the globe. The Foundation was established in 2013.

The Institute is dedicated to ensuring consistency in the education of the IFS Model. IFS Institute, while originally called The Center for Self Leadership (CSL), 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 of IFS books and resources.

“In diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
Maya Angelou





IFS Steps into the Digital Age

Just as the introduction of IFS group-based work will potentially allow the IFS Model to be disseminated across a broader terrain and reach more people, so too will the introduction of IFS into an electronic format. The recent development of an IFS-specific app is designed to integrate a cohesive toolkit of IFS resources to support clients in organizing and deepening their IFS work in between sessions with their practitioners. We meet the creators of this app and discover some of the features of this valuable adjunct to the IFS Model.

Sarah Houy, MA, LPC

Faris Sweis, BSc


Sentur allows clients to access support when they need it most because, as we all know, uncomfortable feelings don’t always happen at convenient times.

As a therapist undergoing her own IFS therapy, Sarah Houy, MA, LPC, had a passion for the Model and found she was getting excellent results with her therapist in sessions, but was then frustrated with the disjointed process of trying to extend her work beyond the therapeutic hour. Whether mapping parts, trying to source meditations or looking for additional resources, Sarah found the disintegrated nature of needing to work across different devices inefficient and time-consuming, as was leaving sticky notes and reminders for herself to check in with parts and explore her trailheads. As a self-confessed “student at heart,” Sarah chose to see her frustration as a challenge and got to work developing an IFS app to address the problem. With some timely intervention from IFS Institute, Sarah was introduced to her project cofounder Faris Sweis, BSc, who lives in Bulgaria. With his background in software engineering and their combined entrepreneurial flair, the pair has collaborated over the last three years to create an app designed to integrate expertise from leaders in the IFS field and help clients more easily progress their own work as well as connect to practitioners and resources in the IFS community.

Known as Sentur (Sentur is the Bulgarian translation of the English word “center”), the app developed by Sarah and Faris has a number of features that allow the user to explore and deepen their IFS experience. For example, Sentur integrates the clients' work in their journey of self-transformation and locates it in one handy place on their phone or other device. The unique journaling function features guided check-ins and customized reminders, which allow users to track their trailheads and parts, thus deepening and facilitating the relationship between them. The app also provides a visual representation of the client’s inner world with an IFS-specific mapping feature, which facilitates ongoing contact with parts after they have been unburdened. As Sarah says, “Invoking the Self-energy of unburdened parts is very efficient and, in some ways, the unburdening process is just the start of the journey.” The app allows clients to visually see which resources (unburdened parts, guides, etc.) on their inner team are available to support them when they go into challenging situations or to set intentions for the day.

Sentur allows the client to access support when they need it most because, as we all know, uncomfortable feelings don’t always happen at convenient times. The app features a guided workflow, which allows app users to take an initial assessment of their access to Self-energy, walks them through how to find and focus on what is happening in that challenging moment, and gives them a customized tagging system to capture what they are noticing through the lens of IFS while also tagging other parts that are activated. Links can then be made to existing trailheads, or a new trailhead can be created with the app, offering the option to set a reminder to come back at a later time to check in and see how the relevant parts are doing. At the end of this process, the user is directed to reassess their level of Self-energy relative to when they started the check-in. Self-energy can also be tracked over a period of months or years, which provides a comparison point to baseline with Sentur’s activity tracker providing a clear picture of weekly goals and monitoring progress over time. Finally, there are links to guided audio meditations for increasing access to Self-energy from some of the leading IFS contributors in the community, such as Michelle Glass, CIFSP; Susan McConnell, MA; and Mariel Pastor, MA.

“...barriers such as geographical location, access to a practitioner and restricted finances can potentially be transcended using the app.”

Sarah and Faris’s tagline for Sentur is “Everyone deserves to heal.” They created the app because they believe the transformative capacity of IFS could be combined with technology to take healing to places that traditional methods have not been able to access. For example, barriers such as geographical location, access to a practitioner and restricted finances can potentially be transcended using the app. Sarah says, “We know this tool is helpful to those in IFS therapy, and we are excited to continue to partner with organizations in underserved populations to see how it can support their vision of change and healing in the world.” Costing less than an average single therapy session, a one-year subscription offers either an adjunct to those in therapy and/or a resource for those who cannot afford therapy.

Sentur was released on Apple in March 2021 and is due for release as an Android app in the near future. Upgrades will continue, as with all apps. In November, subscribers will find some of the tools of Michelle Glass’s Daily Parts Meditation Practice™ incorporated into the app to facilitate deeper integration of IFS sessions, with more to follow in upcoming months. Sarah can be contacted at: sarah@sentur.app. __SD

Sponsored SPACE

Deepen Healing
& Wellbeing in the
World Through IFS

by Sponsoring OUTLOOK and
Promoting your Work or Creations

Consider supporting the work of the
Foundation for Self Leadership while
also widely publicizing your IFS-related
work, offerings, and insights.

You have the opportunity to sponsor the OUTLOOK
magazine by claiming space in it to announce or promote
your workshop, webinar, book, podcast, or app… or share
a message with the community about something
important to you.

If you are interested in becoming a magazine Sponsor,
please send your inquiry to Outreach@FoundationIFS.org
with “OUTLOOK Sponsorship” in the Subject line.

Sponsored ads range from 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, to full page.

Specific details will be shared in the reply.

Please note that the Foundation (a) reserves the right to decline sponsorships
that are not aligned with its societal peacemaking and human-centered principles
and values; and (b) does not endorse the messages appearing in OUTLOOK’s
sponsored space and will state explicitly in the magazine that such messages
solely represent the sponsors’ views or interests.


“If you want to be a leader, be a bridge.”
__ A Welsh Proverb

When might we come to terms as a people, regardless of our formal positions or roles, with the reality that our individual decisions and activities often bear serious consequences for our families, organizations, localities, and nations—perhaps even for the whole human race? It may go without saying that our decisions and activities have a lot to do with the extent and nature of the dialogue we hold inside of us, among the parts of ourselves, many of which may be in conflict…

What happens on the outside may be a direct reflection of what happens on the inside of us.

As dialogue between people and communities starts to break down, threatening to bring down optimism and hope with it, we’re left wondering how to rebuild it… And, truth be told, we have no choice but to keep trying!

As some people’s ways of living and knowing the world appear to them to be in jeopardy, given that others (perhaps unlike them on the surface) need to be noticed, counted, and given what is rightfully theirs (to be included and treated equitably), we’re left wondering how we can build a shared future together… And if we don't, one worries, we have to learn at least to live together peacefully!

This is the world we seem to be navigating today—a world burdened by unspoken fears and irrational anger. Each of us seems stuck on our own side, separated by intransigent views and beliefs that do not leave any space for the other, stopping our ears tight, spewing harsh judgments often without any basis, and blocking our ability to access the goodness, tolerance, and love that lay deep within each of us… the core essence of our humanity.

To resolve the tensions and polarizations around us, we may be called upon to pay attention to what happens inside of us.

This is the context within which the Foundation for Self Leadership has hosted a series of online conversations to present the case that we need to build bridges within us, to facilitate harmony and wholeness within, before we can effectively build bridges between us as people and communities.

The situation in the US and across the rest of the world, from human-activated natural disasters to inconsistently (and perhaps poorly) humanmanaged systems, conflicts and health crises, urges each of us to start the process of building inner bridges and contribute to build outer bridges as well.

How we proceed is up to us. Each one of us can do a little in our spaces and circles; the multiplier effect is significant and very much worth it.

The Foundation is grateful to the 10 panelists who participated in these conversations, which took place over five Fridays, starting on September 3rd, 2021. Recordings for all such conversations can be found on the Foundation website. Viewers are encouraged to contribute $25 USD per video to support the nonprofit mission of the Foundation toward fostering emotional and relational healing through IFS (Donations can be made online through the same URL.) __TMH


September/October 2021 Program

  • From Fight or Flight to Dialogue:
    Turning Inward Toward a Path to Civility
    David Medeiros, MSW, LICSW & Vicki McCoy, MA
  • Compassionate Activism:
    Promoting the Common Good in a Conflicted World
    Frank Rogers, PhD & Kelly Gaule, CAP
  • The Impact of ‘isms’ on Identity:
    From Self-Awareness to Healing & Action
    Rahul Sharma, PsyD & Requina Barnes, LICSW
  • Facing & Overcoming Racism:
    From “Other” to “One Another”
    Tamala Floyd, LCSW & Jon Schwartz, MEd
  • A Polarized World:
    Exploring the Role of Self Leadership in Peacemaking
    Hugh O’Doherty, MA, MEd, EdD & Lester Fagen, MA, JD

The brand and content of this program are the intellectual property of the Foundation for Self Leadership, which can be shared openly with proper attribution and reference to www.FoundationIFS.org/bridge.

A Bridge Between US was conceived & produced by Toufic Hakim, PhD, Executive Director, Foundation for Self Leadership; accompanying music composed by Sean Hakim, PMP; and technical, video support provided by Alvey Creative.


Community Connections

Looking Back and Moving Forward:

An Interview with Outgoing OUTLOOK
Editor Michelle Glass

Editor’s Note: The Foundation for Self Leadership is blessed to have a dedicated team of staff members who combine their already busy schedules with work for the Foundation to further its mission and goals, which include: supporting research, broadening access to IFS trainings, and engaging in advocacy and outreach on behalf of IFS to expand its global reach. Starting initially as a volunteer for the Foundation, and then working as the editor of the Foundation’s semi-annual magazine OUTLOOK, for the last seven years Michelle Glass, CIFSP, has epitomized the values of the Foundation and, with dedication and generosity, has been a reliably indispensable partner during her involvement in her various roles. Her commitment to promoting IFS continues to be unshakable, and her contributions to advancing the Foundation are profound and lasting.

While Michelle will continue to be involved at a number of levels in the work of the Foundation and the advocacy of the Model, she is stepping down as editor of OUTLOOK magazine. Spend some time with us as we celebrate her achievements thus far, express gratitude for her hard work and commitment, and speculate on her future directions. __SD

OUTLOOK: Michelle, having worked with you over the last three years and been involved in the creation of a number of stories with you that have graced the pages of this magazine, I’m delighted to have the opportunity to speak with you in a different way and flesh out some of the details around your early contact and involvement with IFS. Can you summarize your IFS journey—from your involvement in the first instance to becoming a certified IFS practitioner?

Michelle: Sure, Shaun. It all started in 2005 when I was a client and my counselor began using IFS with me after a few years of Hakomi therapy. I remember that moment in time vividly because it was a radical shift in my healing and changed everything, with IFS becoming my lens and language. For many years, I continued using it primarily for myself and also informally with others. I always wanted to be a counselor, but different life events kept me from that, so years later, and after I had healed what my system calls “the epicenter of the epicenter” of my trauma, I entered my L1 training with Paul Ginter, EdD, and Rina Dubin, EdD, with the intention of beginning my private practice as an alternative counselor. I completed all three levels in about 18 months and very shortly after attained my certification.

S:How did you come to take on the role as OUTLOOK editor?

M: It seems as though all roads go back to Esalen for me. I began attending Dick’s IFS workshops there in 2005, and then in 2014, my friend and colleague Marushka Glissen, LICSW, informed the participants about the Foundation for Self Leadership. She told us that the Foundation was looking for volunteers, and I had time on my hands back in those days, so I volunteered. At first, my role was solely as the Donor Steward Associate where I set up and eventually expanded our database and engaged with our donors. Very shortly thereafter, Toufic Hakim, PhD, invited me to begin the creation of what was at the time just a small bulletin, OUTLOOK. We had a lovely interaction, and the two of us enjoyed talking about the possibility that one day it might become a magazine. Quite some years ago, a man named Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, was creating a book called IFS Healing Stories, and when he was unable to finish it, it got passed onto me. Unfortunately, I was also busy, so it sat for a while. But Toufic had heard about Noah’s intention to create a book of stories, and we both referenced it when talking about the possibility of a bulletin or newsletter, and of course that has morphed into the current Stories of Transformation, which we feature in many editions. We started the bulletin in May 2015, and it grew quickly. Of course, we still have the vision of publishing a book that will feature stories of transformation.

S: How have the role and the magazine changed in the time of your stewardship?

M: The magazine has exploded almost as much as IFS itself! We started out with very small articles in the bulletin, which was a total of twelve pages, but with each edition and as I became more immersed in our lovely community, the number of stories increased our page count. In fact, I calculated the growth of the magazine over the years by about four pages each edition, and it has gotten bigger and bigger until the May 2021 edition reached seventy pages. In the early days, I knew only small circles of people in the community, but it was not long before I felt very connected with large segments of our community. I’ve made wonderful friends all over the world in my role as editor. This is one of the jewels I will always possess and hold in my heart. As the editions continued to grow in size and reach, it became clear that we needed an assistant editor. It was a wonderful process to interview people for that role and bring you on board, which has been a great expansion to the staff. Toufic has always given me creative license and ample encouragement to expand and dream big for OUTLOOK and IFS, so I feel lucky in this way to have given the community and IFS this reference.

I feel lucky in this way to have given the community and IFS this reference.

S: This sounds like quite a big piece of work, Michelle. Can you tell us a bit about the production of the magazine?

M: We have a bank of potential stories for upcoming editions, which is an ongoing running motor in the background. But we also slate specific stories and timelines for each edition, which means engaging with all the staff involved. I’ve primarily focused on the schedule and requirements that work for me, and I then put that to the team, and fortunately that works most of the time. So, there’s interviewing, writing, delegating, and then working with the proofreading team. At the same time, I’m also working with the printers and organizing the bid and other details—right down to the ordering of envelopes. Historically, I have stuffed and addressed envelopes as well as doing a final proofread after picking it up from the printer. In fact, I have stood at the counter of my local post office for long periods of time to the point where I have now developed a really wonderful relationship with my postal carrier—and that’s not a joke! (laughs) We are friends now, and my husband and I now have Don from the U.S. Postal Service over for drinks, and I give him a free copy of the magazine because he’s been standing there for as long as I have! Once the printed version is finalized and mailed, we produce online and Mailchimp versions of the edition, both of which are also distributed. Finally, after all that, when the PDF articles have been sent to the interviewees, we then submit a version to social media. These are little snippets of the production process. As you can imagine, this involves many emails.

S: That sounds hectic, Michelle! I imagine there have been some ups and downs over the seven years you’ve been involved. Can you tell us about some memorable moments in your time as editor?

M: Yes, there are so many, and there’s something from each edition! The biggest thing that stands out is holding privileged information about stories many months or more before publication and interfacing with most all the staff at IFS Institute in addition to the Foundation. Flying out from Eugene, Oregon, to Boston, Massachusetts, to cover the Pixar screening of the movie Inside Out was one of my first stories. That was an exciting time for IFS and the Foundation. I’ve really enjoyed attending the Annual IFS Conference and engaging with so many people for future stories, interfacing with them about the Foundation, volunteering on our large Foundation Friday events that for a few years included a silent auction and, of course, covering that in the Operational Update section annually. Another couple of really important events were Dick’s meeting with the Dalai Lama and Alanis Morrissette’s engagement with an IFS documentary years ago.

But the relational side of things has been amazing, as I’ve gotten to know so many people in so many networks who are involved in using the Model. I’ve made wonderful friends all over the world, which is a wonderful gift I didn’t anticipate when I first stepped into the role. It’s like a string of jeweled charms on a necklace to have friends all over the world I can talk to, and I anticipate that will continue. Another highlight has been interacting with the staff over the years and working seamlessly and tirelessly with different members of the team. Almost everybody on the team is a volunteer, and the Foundation is very fortunate to have these team members who clearly love the Model and what the Foundation is doing. Just as one example, I started with four proofreaders back in 2015, and years later we still have three of them volunteering their time for us; there’s been very little turnover. Though I’m an introvert, I am also a people person, and I’ve been blessed to spend much of my time engaged with like-minded people using the Model in every interaction and speaking for our parts. It’s been more than a pleasure to work with Toufic. He’s made my role very easy and has been an incredible mentor. I will miss our regular interactions. I can say the same for you, Shaun. The entire team works so hard!

I’ve made wonderful friends all over the world, which is a wonderful gift I didn’t anticipate when I first stepped into the role. It’s like a string of jeweled charms on a necklace to have friends all over the world I can talk to, and I anticipate that will continue.

S: On that note, would you tell us a bit about the team you’ve worked with and maybe the role of the Foundation?

M: We’ve been fortunate to have had a pretty consistent team. Toufic and I as publisher and editor; Sylvia Miller as our graphic designer; Shelia Woody as printer extraordinaire at my local instaprint; and most of our proofreading team (Laura Taylor, JD; Kira Freed, MA, BCC, LPC (ret.); Karen Locke, MA) have all been here from day one. This has created great stability as we have grown. Grant Leitheiser, LMFT, our former IT Support, was responsible for converting the printed version to an online web version for us. He and I spent many long hours into the wee hours of the night remotely getting editions just right. I was thrilled to have you, Shaun, join our team as assistant editor. Your engagement has enabled us to expand further. I’m grateful for what you bring to OUTLOOK and for lightening my load considerably. Josh Lisojo, MS, has taken on Grant’s role with IT Support and has done a wonderful job keeping up as each edition expanded. I want to also acknowledge other proofreaders: currently Brenda Hollingsworth, MSW, LCSW, is engaged in this endeavor and formerly Casita Wild, MA, and Karen Fortier, MSW, LICSW. Each and every person has made OUTLOOK what it is and left an indelible mark on my life.

S: Thanks, Michelle. It sounds like working with the team has been a highlight for you, and it’s exciting that you have future plans. Can you tell us some of the details about your expanding horizons? Will you be growing your involvement in your DPMP™ work, and/or do you have another project in mind you’re able to share with us?

M: The first thing I want to say is that it feels very bittersweet moving forward. I never had the experience of being a young adult going off to college—both excited and feeling homesick—as I attended college locally. This is how I feel as I leave my editorship. I know I always have this Foundation family and will engage as an editorial advisor, and I have other areas of life I will touch to continue to expand IFS.

“...it feels very bittersweet moving forward...”

In terms of how I will spend my time—once I complete writing my healing memoir, for which I’ve been on a writing sabbatical, I will definitely resume my private practice. The other piece that’s needed more attention is my Daily Parts Meditation Practice™ work, which is expanding significantly and which could mean more workshops or other applications of the process. Also at present, the book is being translated into Spanish and may then be translated into other languages. When Dick asked me to present on my tools at the Annual Conference, I thought, well, if Dick sees some value, then I must do so. I didn’t really have an attachment to the response of the DPMP™, and to find that it’s been so well received (pauses)… There’s a bit of emotion coming up for me now, as it’s really heartwarming for my parts. It’s a big acknowledgment for my system and my parts’ hard work along the way to let me be here in a Self-led way. And so, for other people to find the DPMP™ valuable is really just incredible.

But the most exciting thing for me is a new IFS-based app called Sentur (see page 31 for more on the app). The developers approached me several months ago, asking me to collaborate. They told me they loved my book and tools and believed that incorporating them would bring deeper integration to users. I had wanted to create an app a few years ago but never had the time or resources to take it on myself. So, to be approached by an IFS team who are dedicated to the fidelity of the Model feels really important to me. I’m hoping the inclusion of my tools in the app will benefit the world—clients, therapists, and colleagues alike—in the integration of their IFS journeys. Finally, I want to try and find a better work/life balance and not be so overcommitted. My DPMP™ work has reached a good place, and there are opportunities opening up like the app or the LifeArchitect recorded DPMP™ series, which are now available online. So, now it’s like “what’s next!?”

S: Thanks, Michelle. It’s good to know a little bit about what you’ll be up to, and it’s exciting to hear about some of the possibilities you have ahead. As a final question, I’d like to ask: Where do you see IFS in 10 or 20 years, and where do you see your involvement with IFS in the same time frames?

M: I’ve always dreamed big when it comes to IFS. On my meditation walk this morning, my parts realized that we will be 73 in that timeframe you mentioned. Since that first day when my therapist used IFS with me, I realized just how radically different my healing was in that moment, and I thought this has got to go out in the world—everyone needs to have access to this deep healing and transformation. So, within just 10 years, I could see the potential of IFS being taught in every major university and college, which would also be one way to meet the increasing demand. I can see us obtaining much more research to support IFS as evidence-based in all five categories to become the gold standard for treatment for all conditions (along with the depathologizing of the DSM).

In 20 years, I can see IFS being utilized in all walks of life, or as Dick and I say, “the air we breathe.” The dream is that the majority of people will know the tenets of the Model, so any person can help another person unblend from parts and be a Self-led, compassionate witness. For example, you might be in the grocery store, and the person ahead of you in the checkout line is blended with an angry part, but fortunately the cashier knows some IFS to engage in a Self-led way to help that person feel understood and unblend. The impact of which is essentially a cultural (re)embodiment of our innate essence. Big dreams, I know, but I don’t think they are too far-fetched.

I hope to always be engaged with both the Foundation and the Institute in some manner, not only as a Hope Merchant, but to help ensure the fidelity of the Model in a stewardship capacity. Maintaining the integrity and fidelity of the Model is dear to my heart.

In terms of my involvement—for at least the next 10 years I’ll continue with my private practice, engaging individuals with their healing. I’ll continue with various projects and expansion of the DPMP™ and being on the advisory board for the Sentur app. I’m hopeful that my healing memoir will be an example of the tangible power of the Model and have a positive impact on the world. It’s hard to know for me personally where I would be within IFS in 20 years. I hope to always be engaged with both the Foundation and the Institute in some manner, not only as a Hope Merchant, but to help ensure the fidelity of the Model in a stewardship capacity. Maintaining the integrity and fidelity of the Model is dear to my heart.

S: Michelle, on behalf of the OUTLOOK team, all its readers, the Foundation, and the Institute, I would like to extend our warmest thanks and appreciation for all that you have done over the years in your role as OUTLOOK editor. We wish you all the very best and look forward to staying in touch.

M: It’s been my pleasure…

Michelle can be reached at michelleglassifs@gmail.com. More information on the Daily Parts Meditation PracticeTM can be found on her website.



PAGES > 602





EMAILS SENT > 9,500+

HOURS > Countless

Publisher’s Note: Having Michelle on the Foundation’s Team has been a most generous gift. The partnership she and I forged since 2015 in producing and expanding OUTLOOK (among other activities she willingly supported) has been operationally effective and personally rewarding (maybe I should say, engaging, fulfilling, or heartwarming, since “rewarding” does not begin to capture it).

Through my decades of engagement in various managerial, executive, and communications roles, I have seldom worked closely with an associate who helped make the work as meaningful and enjoyable as Michelle did. Michelle and I have both benefited from a deep level of mutual trust and support that we built over time, which helped us navigate whatever challenges we faced along the way.

While I know we’re blessed to have a good leadership team with Shaun Dempsey, PhD, Barbara Perkins, MA, and others, I will miss having Michelle involved with the Foundation in this role. Yet, I trust that Michelle will stay connected with us, and we’ll do what we can at the Foundation to tap her wisdom and knowledge as much as is feasible for all involved.

A big bouquet of gratitude, Michelle, from our team and me.

Toufic Hakim, PhD, Executive Director


A High Six

by Trent O’Byran

Editor’s Note: Please be advised that the content of this story may be emotionally challenging to read. References are made to sexual abuse and medical challenges. You may need to be discerning if and when you choose to read it.

Why was I feeling so damn conflicted about this upcoming colonoscopy? Sure, it’s a somewhat unpleasant procedure, but two doctors had suggested it months earlier due to unexplained symptoms. I had agreed to it and even booked the appointment, only to then feel immediately anxious when the letter arrived to confirm it.

So anxious, in fact, that I had called the hospital and cancelled, concocting reasons why I needed to reschedule at some unconfirmed future date (but intending to do no such thing). Disaster averted.

By the time my next session with David (my therapist) rolled around, I was questioning what I had done. The symptoms I was having would remain unexplained if I didn’t have the colonoscopy, and what if I had bowel cancer? Wouldn’t it be better to know now and get it treated than ignore it and let it progress? My adult self, or “The Me of Me,” as I have dubbed it, was back in charge and I was ready to explore this newest mystery of my behaviour. Clearly some part or parts had managed to convince me that the colonoscopy was a Very Bad Idea and pushed me to avoid it. Maybe David could help me understand why and what I should do about it.

My Session with David. I feel slightly nervous and apprehensive as the session starts, wondering what will unfold. I explain the previous week to David, who calmly suggests we ask which parts are worried about the colonoscopy.

While initially the concept of IFS felt a bit kooky to me, I was drawn to the creative idea that I have many different versions of myself living inside of me and the process of getting in touch with them for the first time was surprisingly easy to do. Yet after a few months of regular sessions, I was still a bit uneasy about talking to the part known as The Orphan (aka Trent Brady, as this part longs to be a member of the perfect Brady Bunch family rather than the one he was actually born into).

I have learned that the feelings The Orphan holds are typically painful and other parts of me often “don’t want me to go there.” Sometimes the part I call The Babadook appears when I try to get close to The Orphan and waves his magic wand and makes me feel hazy and “tuned out” so I can’t easily talk to The Orphan—and sure enough he appears this time. David guides me to gently ask The Babadook to step back and he does. David then asks me how I feel toward The Orphan now, and I feel curious and compassionate, so I know I am back in The Me of Me and unblended from The Babadook.

I often see The Orphan in a boat surrounded by water, which he has said “contains all the tears in the world.” Some parts of me are afraid of drowning in this sea of sorrow and make me feel scared to approach The Orphan, so once again David gently suggests that I thank those parts for the warning and ask that they please step back a little so I can talk to The Orphan. I am always surprised that, despite their warnings and issues with The Orphan, the concerned parts always do step back. I have learned that they are there to protect The Orphan or other parts and, as long as I listen and take their concerns seriously and don’t ignore them, they generally cooperate. They only want to be acknowledged and heard; they also seem to understand that they are each part of a bigger team and must take their turn and work together.

When David guides me to ask The Orphan what he wants to tell me about the colonoscopy, The Orphan sure has a lot to say. He reminds me of all the times when I was 4, 5, and 6 years old when I got tonsillitis and bronchitis and my parents dragged me to the doctor to get penicillin injections in my bottom. He remembers how very painful they were, and how he was shamed by his parents for protesting and crying, and how the doctor seemed big and cruel and mean. Then he reminds me of the time my mother took me to the hospital when I was seven to get the nub of my sixth finger on my left hand removed (I was born with polydactyly, six fingers on each hand). This was done with a local anesthetic and a scary scalpel, and my mother left me alone in the surgery, despite me pleading with her to stay. When it stung and I cried out for her but she didn’t come, and then when she did, she told me not to be a baby and to stop crying, I felt alone and ashamed. Then the Orphan reminds me of perhaps the worst trauma of all. The violation of the most private and vulnerable parts of my body when I was sexually abused as a 7-year-old.

Remembering all of this is painful but I can suddenly see what The Orphan has been trying to tell me over the last week: I must beware of anyone requesting access to my most vulnerable areas, especially my bottom! These people are not to be trusted! No one is going to protect me from them, least of all my parents! I must not do what they ask me to do, it’s unsafe and terrible things will happen if I do!

The tears flow. I feel a wave of compassion for this boy and what he has gone through. David asks me what I want to say to this scared little boy. I tell The Orphan I am grateful for everything he has reminded me of, and I take it very seriously. That I am sorry he went through all of that without anyone there protecting him. But that now I am here, and I will be protecting him from any more hurt. I will not allow anything like that to happen to him again. It will be me, the adult Trent, who will be having the colonoscopy, not him. And I will be checking in with him every step of the way if he needs to tell me anything, and protecting him and reassuring him, if that’s what he needs me to do. Although I wasn’t there to take care of him when he was a boy, I am here now. And I can understand how scary and painful it was for him to go through all of that alone; but now he has me and all the other parts besides. We are here for each other and this procedure will not hurt him one bit.

From Snubbing to Befriending. The Orphan takes all this in, in his solemn and serious way, and nods. He sits in his boat and hovers above the ocean of tears. Once again, I marvel at his power of resilience and the skills he has to manage “all the sadness in the world” and tell him I am impressed. I tell him he deserves a high five and he lifts his hand up and says, “High six. I kept my extra fingers. I need them.” I nod. What a strong, resourceful little boy he is.

I rebooked the colonoscopy and didn’t have any anxiety about it at all. The procedure went well and I was fine. Afterwards, I checked in with The Orphan and gave him a high five for his remarkable courage and understanding. I got another high six in return.



Personal Story

Editor’s Note: Please be advised that the content of this story may be emotionally challenging to read. References are made to the Holocaust. You may need to be discerning if and when you choose to read it. Marushka’s story directly relates to the previous article Israelis and Palestinians Collective Healing: Healing Our Trauma Together. The work of cultural and legacy burdens and bearing witness to traumas of all kinds, but especially holocausts and other atrocities, are a specialty of hers. For more information, contact Marushka at marushkaglissen@gmail.com. __MG

I attended a couple’s workshop in the 1980s at Kripalu. In one of the exercises, we were to list the beliefs we internalized from different parts of our lives—from the earliest memories to the present day. When I looked at my list, one belief stood out for me, and I realized it was affecting my life at that time. The belief was, “It is not safe to stand out.”

After that workshop, this belief hovered in the back of my mind, and I didn’t really get clear about it until 2005. I was in a weeklong IFS training in Mexico led by Richard Schwartz, PhD, and Barb Cargill, MA, ADTR, where I learned about legacy burdens. These are burdens that are not necessarily from your own experiences in life, but rather belonged to ancestors and were passed on to you. (For more on legacy burdens, see The Power of Working with Collective Burdens on page 19).

I am an only child of two Holocaust survivors. My parents met after the war and immigrated to New York in 1948. I was born five years later. They settled in South Jersey, where my dad managed a sweater mill. My parents were silent about their experiences, yet I got snippets of their lives by behaviors they exhibited through my growing-up years. I know I was a sensitive child and cried a lot, sometimes for reasons I couldn’t name. My dad had been a Polish prisoner of war, wound up in Schindler’s factory, and was on Schindler’s List. He was one of 1,200 Jews who were saved by Oscar Schindler and had lost all family except for one brother. He was made to walk in extreme cold and hot weather. When I was about four, he took me to the Philadelphia Zoo on a hot summer day, and when we got home he completely disconnected from me and went to his room. As a young child, I felt bewildered and cut off from him. Yet, as a grown woman, I realized why this happened. My mom had a tattoo on her left inner arm from when she was in Auschwitz at the age of thirteen. I didn’t know what that meant until much later in my life. She had repeated nightmares and would often talk about wishing she had her sisters to do things with. Her entire family was wiped out.

When I finally started working with my own legacy burdens in Mexico, I got in touch with my sad, fearful, anxious parts who carried the burdens for my unfortunate ancestors whose lives were cut short prematurely. I was able to understand the belief that it wasn’t safe to stand out, because during the Holocaust, if you stood out you would be killed. I am now able to talk to this little girl part of me who gets afraid to present or speak in groups and comfort her. I was also able to free my ancestors by helping them to release all the fear, terror, and trauma they experienced in Poland in the camps and ghettos through a legacy unburdening.

Years later, Dick invited me to present my story at workshops about legacy burdens that he offered in Santa Cruz, California; at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA; and also at the Annual IFS Conference. Every time I told my story and was witnessed with love and gratitude, it healed me. In 2012, I went to Auschwitz for the first time to bear witness to all that happened in the camps with a group called the Zen Peacemakers. There, we meditated at the railroad tracks where prisoners arrived and listened to inmates’ stories about what happened there. I have since visited other places of genocide—specifically Native Americans in South Dakota—to listen to their stories and understand what happened to them.

I believe that when we deeply witness another person who is different from us to hear and see their traumas, we see more similarities than differences. When that occurs, we cannot “other” them. We realize they are connected to us. How can we hurt or kill someone to whom we feel connected? When we “other” another, we can hurt them. This is one learning from the Unburdening Legacy Burdens Connected to the Israeli Palestinian Conflict workshop on August 16, 2021. See the previous article Israelis and Palestinians Collective Healing: Healing Our Trauma Together.

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Israelis and Palestinians

Collective Healing:


Editor’s Note: OUTLOOK has expanded incrementally over the years. With an ever-increasing plethora of articles to impart to our readers on all things IFS, we’ve enlisted a reserve of volunteer writers. Marushka Glissen, MA, LICSW, is one such volunteer writer. She is a certified IFS therapist and Assistant Trainer who practices in Newton, MA. Here, she reports on a workshop about legacy burdens and also shares her personal Story of Transformation (story follows immediately after this article). Through reading both pieces, readers may appreciate why she finds this work important and how it has impacted her life. The Foundation is grateful for her debut article. If you’d like to volunteer as a writer for OUTLOOK, please email Outreach@FoundationIFS.org. _MG

Founder and Director of Together Beyond Words, Nitsan Gordon, MA, and Founder of the IFS Model, Richard Schwartz, PhD, hosted an online workshop on August 16, 2021, titled Unburdening Legacy Burdens Connected to the Israeli Palestinian Conflict. As this topic is dear to my heart, I attended both for myself and to share with readers of OUTLOOK. A total of thirty-two people of Israeli and Palestinian descent gathered on Zoom.

The goal of the workshop was to understand some of the legacy burdens that participants have held for decades—perhaps centuries—so more peace and open-hearted connection could be established.

These archaic beliefs have stood in the way of resolving conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis. When these beliefs are held in the light of Self-energy, they can be released. The hope is that through bearing witness to each other’s stories and collectively unburdening together, the future has the power to rewrite the past.

Thomas Hübl explains in his book Healing Collective Trauma: A Process for Integrating Our Intergenerational and Cultural Wounds that when we integrate shadow or trauma, we utilize the principle of retrocausality because healing past energy creates a forward ripple effect. Retrocausality is a concept of cause and effect in which the effect precedes its cause, so a later event affects an earlier one.1 This integration work releases light and energy that was previously held in shadow, offering greater space and freedom in the present. One could conceptualize that the notion of retrocausality directly relates to the transformative IFS unburdening process.

Many people in the workshop carried Holocaust legacies, while others carried burdens of the Palestinian experience of being cast out from their homes. During a group discussion, the topic of Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic) came up, which refers to the mass expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from British Mandate Palestine during Israel’s creation (1947–49). Descendants of both groups experienced similar parts, for example, feelings of shame, sadness, and anger. The experience of “othering” became less and less throughout the workshop. Since many participants were new to IFS, basic concepts of the Model were first taught by Richard, along with examples of cultural and legacy burdens. One case in point he shared was the fact that living in a war-torn country with a war that has been going on for 140 years and is still happening, Israelis are trained from an early age to protect their country, put one foot in front of the other, ignore vulnerable feelings, and move.

Because almost all participants had family that experienced some historical trauma, it is worth mentioning epigenetics. In the last decade, epigenetics has emerged as a viable theory in biology. It states that gene activity and expression can be changed and transmitted from one generation to another, especially through transmission of trauma. Dr. Rachel Yehuda, a neuroscientist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and a pioneer in epigenetics, has spent decades studying the biological roots of PTSD in veterans, Holocaust survivors and their offspring, and pregnant mothers who experienced PTSD after the World Trade Center attacks in 2001.

Many Holocaust survivors have PTSD and other emotional disorders, and it is well-known that children of traumatized people are at increased risk for PTSD. Yehuda’s research demonstrated that the parents’ experience is in some way related to their child’s phenotype and biology. Both parents and their offspring carried low cortisol levels, predisposing children to relive the PTSD symptoms of their parents. Yehuda was one of the first researchers to show how descendants of trauma survivors carry the physical and emotional symptoms of trauma they have not directly experienced. Richard recognized the impact of epigenetics and transmission of trauma and acknowledged that, through IFS, people could access their heirlooms and strengths as one way of impeding the perpetuation of trauma from one generation to another once burdens are released. I am a product of working with my own legacy burdens, and I can attest to this outcome (please see my Story of Transformation: Bearing Witness to Heal Myself and the World following this article).

As often occurs with IFS workshops and group IFS therapy (please see three articles on IFS and Group therapy beginning on page 10), Richard offered to do a demonstration session with a participant. There was a feeling of interconnection and immense gratitude for all of the sharing among us after witnessing this profoundly deep inner work. Toward the end of the day, Richard led participants through a meditation to find any legacy burdens we carried. We were given an invitation to release them if we were ready to. If relatives or ancestors needed witnessing of events and were not yet ready, participants placed legacy burdens in a box so we did not have to carry them any longer. I got in touch with sadness for never knowing my grandparents on either side and for them never meeting me or my sons. I was able to unburden that with my relatives and bring back inside all of us the quality of joy. I feel more connected to the many family members I never met since doing this work, and I call on them frequently to guide and protect me.

Burdens that are not
transformed are transmitted.

Perhaps you can grasp the importance of this work that has a remarkable capacity for healing collective burdens. Burdens that are not transformed are transmitted. Richard has found a way to aid this transformation. Families may transmit the effects of trauma for many generations. When the people of a particular culture or tradition have been torn from their homes and lands; when their libraries, burial places, religious centers or sacred sites have been desecrated or denied them; and when their language, rituals or customs have been banned, forbidden or forgotten, scarring both persecuted and persecutor, this will be carried and transmitted for many generations—that is, unless or until they are afforded the opportunity to do such healing. There is so much possibility for healing when we find ourselves in a loving group like this—one where there is a lot of Self-energy in the room and we see each other as interconnected rather than separate. The more we are in Self, the more we remember our connection to our parts, to other people, to our families, and to the earth.

Together Beyond Words is an organization dedicated to building paths to a just and peaceful society by empowering women and healing emotional wounds, traumas, and prejudices. They plan to bring more work like this to more communities in Israel. It is hoped that more dialogue toward peace using the IFS Model can be attained. For more information on Nitsan and Together Beyond Words, please visit her website.

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retrocausality


Fund for Self Leadership

Advancing Emotional Healing
and Well-being

Through charitable gifts, the Fund for Self Leadership
underwrites the most pressing needs at the Foundation:

  • furthering IFS research,

  • incubating innovative IFS programs,

  • producing community-facing resources,

  • advocating for IFS with decisionmakers
    and in communities of practice.

Unrestricted, ongoing gifts to the Fund enable the
Foundation to pursue all these objectives, and to
be agile and responsive in pursuing our mission.

Make your donation at


Imagine with Us

In a world that seems to be crumbling…

When our human fabric seems to be breaking at the seams,

And open cracks swallow the light of optimism and hopefulness,

Some will pray (may their prayers be heeded!);

Some may breathe-in the strain and tension and breathe-out release and stillness;

Some may even sit and watch,

Dry tears on their cheeks,
helpless hands locked overhead in surrender;

Yet, others will run over
with all the thread and needles to be found

And stitch, and stitch, and stitch.

When communities draw deep lines of demarcation,

And factions stand firm in their corners,
stuck in their spaces, unyielding, immobile,

Some will join one side or the other, by conviction or for survival;

Some may stand in between,
screaming at both sides in frustration or indignation;

Some may even try, in vain,

To find a way out, go far away from it all, and never look back;

Yet, others will shuttle back and forth, from one faction to the other

And listen, and listen, and listen.

When foes, inside and out, wave their threatening swords,

Beat their drums of battle
and yell their rallying cries from the top of their lungs,

Some will raise their arms and march in unison;

Some may run in their circles unsure how to react;

Some may even hide, in the brush or deep underground,

Hearts pounding, their skin cold and blue,
their eyes wide open;

Yet, others will rush to all those in need,
with the certainty of light in their steps,

And serve, and serve, and serve.

The IFS community and the
Foundation have made their choice…
in service to healing and humanity,
with commitment to ensuring societal
harmony and wellbeing, determined to
awaken Self wherever it may lie under
the rubble of collective human decisions
and actions…

And all worth it, it will be.

Imagine with us the possibilities of our collective efforts together.




Foundation Seeks New Magazine Editor

Connecting, engaging, and growing the IFS community. Your Foundation for Self Leadership publishes OUTLOOK, a semi-annual magazine which showcases developments around the paradigm and practice of IFS, to these ends.

The Foundation now seeks an Editor to guide the magazine, in its sixth year of publication, into the next phase.

The Editor will contribute to strategy that advances the mission, produce compelling content, leverage technology, and collaborate on integrating the magazine into a comprehensive communications plan.

For more information visit our website.



Chris Burris LPC, LMFT

Inside the One Inside

A multitude of resources are available for people curious about—and avid learners of—the Model. In addition to official IFS Institute trainings, books, workshops, and videos, one such avenue is the podcast. In April of 2019, certified IFS therapist Tammy Sollenberger, LCMHC, launched The One Inside: An Internal Family Systems Podcast, with the intention of making IFS more accessible to the general public. Aware of the amazing ways in which various people are using the Model, she wanted to showcase these individuals and the gifts they bring to the world. It was her hope that listeners’ own creativity and motivation would be sparked in how they might use the Model for themselves or their clients by feeling like they were pulling up a chair to observe a conversation about IFS through hearing these conversations.

Often these conversations allow for activation of our own parts and new trailheads, as they relate to the content or persons in the interviews. In this way, podcasts offer the opportunity for collective transformation or community healing. As listeners witness and feel connected to the conversation, they may not feel as alone whether feeling aligned to or polarized against the content. Listeners may then bring these pieces to therapy for more unburdening, transformation, and ultimately more wholeness. “Collective healing comes from being in community with other people and hearing Self-led conversations,” Tammy asserts. “I want listeners to hear the heart-to-heart of the conversations and walk away with feeling ‘that was healing for me or felt good.’”

The 100th episode featuring founder of the Model, Richard Schwartz, PhD, about his new book No Bad Parts, and in which Dick led Tammy through an unburdening, was aired a few months ago in July. It was a huge milestone for the program. In the last two and a half years, IFS trainers, authors, therapists, and practitioners, along with New York Times best-selling author and spiritual leader Gabrielle Bernstein, have shared with listeners their unique focuses to help us all understand ourselves and the Model in both concrete and nuanced ways. She aspires to add dialogues with Toni Herbine-Blank, RN, MS, CS-P, and Michi Rose, PhD, LMSW, among others, in the not too distant future. To date, there have been over 200,000 downloads of the podcasts, by countless listeners.

After Tammy completed her L1 training and became a program assistant, and after subsequently having presented at the annual IFS conference, her natural curiosity wondered in what way she could propagate the seeds of IFS. She recalls, “I love IFS and I wanted to get it and mental health concepts into the hands of more people.” When her son was younger, many of the friends in her mom group were educated and professional, and found podcasts to be an easy way to learn, connect, and feel supported. Since she had studied broadcasting in school, the medium made the most sense and she knew several local friends who were podcasting who were happy to show her the ropes.

Tammy Sollenberger, LCMHC

Through the podcast, she has enjoyed getting to know so many people in the IFS community. In addition, she ultimately feels close to her interviewees and has formed friendships with some. While her primary focus is her full-time practice, The One Inside takes more than ten hours a week to produce. Tammy looks forward to bringing you the third season filled with many more interviews to pique your curiosity and provide new trailheads for you. Additionally, she has authored the book, The One Inside: 30 Days to Your Authentic Self, which will be available later this fall. The program can be found here or on her YouTube Channel. To reach Tammy, you can do so at tammysollenberger.com. __MG



On the Way to a “Self-Led School” Designation:

A Pilot Program Evaluation Summary

by Jayne Smith, PhD, LPCC; Founding Lead Evaluator, Mental Health Education Group

Launching a new program including an external evaluator in an existing school setting is challenging in the best of times. Despite all that occurred in society (e.g., pandemic, presidential election, murder of George Floyd, protests, etc.) which could have compromised this effort and its evaluation, we found the Self-Leadership Collaborative (SLC) School Program has great promise in fostering social-emotional wellness and promoting shifts towards Self leadership “in the building” for school staff and students.

Before jumping too much into the findings, I will share a bit about what we set out to do. This program evaluation was a pilot following a small-scale evaluation attempt the previous year, in the throes of COVID. I engaged during the second year of implementation in schools. The SLC School program was under development, which included a need to design and test relevant data collection instruments. As the lead external, independent evaluator, I read and listened to stakeholders in order to design an accurate, robust, and specific program logic model to answer two overarching evaluation questions:

What aspects of the SLC School Program were most and least helpful in terms of building staff and student capacity to be “Self-led”? In what ways were school staff and students impacted by the SLC School Program?

METHODOLOGY. I used an “implementation evaluation” design, as opposed to randomized-controlled, because the program sought to clarify best practices and refine student, staff, and school-wide outcomes. Once these questions are answered and tested again for further refinement, the SLC School Program will be ready for a more rigorous evaluation design.

Five instruments were created to collect data that informed the findings about (1) change in stress; (2) shift towards Self leadership; (3) skills practice alone and with students; (4) change in knowledge about the actual program; and (5) perceived impact on students and classrooms. Data were collected via Google Forms and Zoom and stored in a secure Google Drive. Findings were based on 335 online survey responses and 229 data points from 17 focus group participants. I anonymized all data prior to analysis and reporting. Quantitative data analysis included reliability testing, descriptive statistics, independent t-tests, and effect size calculations. Qualitative data analysis was based on Consensual Qualitative Research.


Regarding the immersive experience for school staff in the SLC Schools Program, sixty-four percent (64%) of focus group data points about helpful factors referred to the power of the summer institutes and need for consistent, frequent learning opportunities facilitated by IFS experts to gain traction in the buildings. Further, 45% of data points about recommendations for continued program development emphasized the importance of being offered a variety of learning opportunities from which they could self-select.

They were more likely to have deeper knowledge about IFS, practice skills by themselves and with students outside of SLC School Program activities, and reported better overall social-emotional and student/classroom outcomes...

Quantitative data supported these qualitative findings. When compared to “low-dose” groups (n=77), participants who engaged in four or more SLC School Program activities (n=39) showed statistically significant results in all outcome measures. They were more likely to have deeper knowledge about IFS (t(114)=-3.52, p<.001), practice skills by themselves and with students outside of SLC School Program activities (t(52)=-3.61, p<.001 and t(50)=-2.61, p<.05, respectively), and reported better overall social-emotional and student/classroom outcomes (t(104)=-2.31, p<.05 and t(105)=-2.09, p<.05, respectively).

Ambassadors (n=12)—members of the school staff who engaged in the most frequent SLC School Program activities (i.e., “highest dose” group)—had high effective sizes in knowledge gained (t(12)=-8.24, p<.001, d=.92), practicing skills alone (t(12)=-4.38, p<.001, d=.78) and shifting toward Self leadership (t(12)=-6.08, p<.001, d=.87). Cohen (1965) suggested that effect sizes (d) equal to or above .80 are high (see next page about effect size). Behavior change takes time and sustained support for any program. The SLC School Program achieved this change with Ambassadors’ daily use of P.A.U.S.E. skills (see next page) indicating an “in the building” shift towards Self leadership.

WHAT IS EFFECT SIZE? Simply put, if two social-emotional learning programs showed statistically significant results, which would be better? Effect size could show that one program increased a student’s ability to self-regulate by 2 points (small effect size) and the other by 8 points (a large effect size). School leaders and funders may be interested in planning for school staff to engage in an SLC School Program immersion followed by regular, frequent follow-up learning opportunities facilitated by IFS experts.


PAUSE (mindfulness, self-regulation):

Ask: Am I my best Self right now?

Step back, breathe, focus on one of the 8 Cs: Calm, compassion, curiosity, connection, clarity, creativity, courage, confidence.

AWARE of myself (self-awareness, emotional intelligence):

Ask: Where am I coming from?

Notice parts of you showing up as thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Appreciate your positive intent and need.

UNDERSTAND each other (relationship skills, social intelligence):

Ask: What’s the other person’s perspective and needs?

Listen from Self to understand the other person and their parts. Speak for your parts not from your parts.

SEARCH for Solutions (decision-making, ethical intelligence):

Ask: What is in our power?

Consider what needs attention.
Brainstorm what will be for the good of all.

EXPERIMENT (responsible action):

Ask: What shall we try? What’s our best next step?

Take purposeful action to benefit your community. Be creative as you explore new ways to interact and respond. Reflect on the results and acknowledge growth.

© Copyright 2021 Self-Leadership Collaborative, LLC, Joanna Curry-Sartori, LMFT All rights reserved. Proper attribution expected if used; permission is requested for usage. Please write Joanna at connect@selfleadershipcollaborative.com

WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT? Myriad IFS-resources were developed and shared with school staff; yet they were not used consistently by staff. Fifty-one percent (51%) of focus group data points encouraged the development of a “Roadmap to Self Leadership” with established expectations for staff training and guidelines for implementation of SLC School Program resources. They also emphasized that resources need to take into consideration student cognitive and social development to be relevant to each grade level.

School staff reported less stress or no change in stress level and mild-to-moderate shifts towards Self leadership immediately following an SLC School Program activity and at the end of the year, which means these changes and shifts were sustained. School staff practiced P.A.U.S.E. Model skills such as taking a pause, breathing practices, listening from Self, unblending, and befriending. Staff members who attended four or more SLC School Program activities were more likely to practice these skills by themselves or with students between one and four times per week.

School staff reported being:

  • less likely to be “hijacked” by their emotions;
  • better able to respond to student needs;
  • better at building relationships with colleagues and students; and/or
  • more present for their students.

Next Steps

Based on the findings of this program evaluation, my recommendation is to continue methodically strengthening the SLC School Program framework, resources, learning opportunities, and evaluation tools so that, in the not-so-distant future, full-school immersion approaches may be in place and criteria established for designating a classroom, school, or district as “Self-Led.” As another focus group participant stated “It is the way we are. We are a Self-led district.”

This quote from one focus group participant brings to life the ways in which school staff and students were inspired by the SLC School Program.

“I have a better relationship with my students. I mean, just to boil it all down, when I started here, I was very strict. ‘Hey, guys, it’s time to work on this!’ And a student is on his phone. That was personally offensive to me. And then we go talk in the hall. ‘You’re wrecking my theory and you ruin this for everybody.’ Back when we had a planning room, I had a lot of kids out all the time. I gave out a lot of detentions. I was butting heads with my students a lot. I had my students who were well-behaved, who were here to learn, and I didn’t have a problem with them. But I would end up with a whole bunch of students who I butted heads with all year. I never really built a relationship with them.

“Now, I feel like I have so many more tools to be able to address these issues. This kid is not a bad kid. He’s not giving me a hard time because he’s a bad kid, there’s something going on there. Maybe I don’t need to hover over him right now. Maybe I need to take a step back, center myself, make a game plan about how I can relate to what his problems are. Then I can address it in a way that is not confrontational, in a way that might make that student open up about what is going on—their parents just got divorced or they just got kicked out of their house. And I’m just tired. That’s not a reason for me to kick them out of my classroom. We’ve built a relationship and now maybe they won’t come up to my standard of behavior, but it’s not necessarily all about that. Now I can teach them what I need to teach them, whereas before I couldn’t even teach them.”

Building Self-Led Schools

What do our schools look like when school adults
tap into their core Self to connect with students?

How can Self leadership be uncovered in our
schools or greater well-being and optimal potential?

The Foundation is pleased to present a three-part Foundation Forum on introducing and disseminating IFS in our schools—nurturing the awareness and language of parts and Self in school communities as well as supporting educators in fulfilling their responsibilities.

Please reserve your calendars for three Saturdays in early 2022 and be on the lookout for more details about panelists and how to register…

All sessions are interactive and practical; they involve individual presentations, panel discussions and participant activities.

Three Saturdays from 10 am to 12 pm (Eastern US | UTC-5)

January 8, 2022 - Be inspired by the outcomes of the Connecticut-schools initiative and experience the P.A.U.S.E Model* for accessing Self leadership in daily interactions (panelists include IFS-trained program director, schoolteachers, and lead administrators)

January 22, 2022 - Explore how IFS can be adapted into various school classrooms and complement related frameworks, from Values-based Education to Restorative Practices (panelists are IFS-trained practitioners who are pioneering such efforts in several countries)

February 5, 2022 - Join a global, cross-cultural movement of IFS practitioners leading innovative ways to cultivate qualities of Self in schools (panelists are mental health professionals introducing IFS to schools in the US and various parts of the world)

(*) The IFS-inspired P.A.U.S.E Model is developed by Joanna Curry-Sartori, LMFT, founder of the Self-Leadership Collaborative, to integrate IFS-based skills. She has used it consistently in her workshops and programs with school educators and administrators to integrate IFS-based skills in school communities.



Accessing Self Leadership in Schools - A Connecticut Initiative

by Joanna Curry-Sartori, LMFT; Founder of Self-Leadership Collaborative

Joanna Curry-Sartori, LMFT

Even amidst the global pandemic and one of the most difficult years known to schools, educators in Connecticut steadfastly gathered to continue their efforts to connect with their own Self, to nurture their own parts, and to provide warm, wise company for each other. This sanctuary for authentic self-care was constructed from the wisdom and practices inspired by IFS and was guided by Self-Leadership Collaborative. Through this work, educators learned that they have extraordinary inner resources and the innate capacity to be calm, curious, compassionate, and courageous. They tasted the possibility of seeing themselves and others as a constellation of wellintentioned parts. They glimpsed the power of speaking for parts and listening from Self. And in this, they forged a space to connect more deeply and show up more wholly for the continuous string of changes and challenges they had to navigate daily.

Here is an overview of the program implemented in Regional School District 13, Durham Connecticut and A.I Prince Technical High School in Hartford, Connecticut during the 2021-2022 school year:

ALL STAFF participated in facilitated small group discussions following the P.A.U.S.E. model, a simple process to access and listen from Self while speaking for parts. In this format, staff explored and expressed their experience of teaching during the pandemic and also shared their best practices connecting and engaging students. Additionally, staff received periodic “nuggets”—emails offering reflections, guided practice, and tips to implement IFS tools in their school role.

AMBASSADORS: Following last year’s efforts, small cohorts of ambassadors continued to meet and deepen their own practice of Self leadership while expanding their efforts to lead school-wide integration of IFS practices in everyday relationships, classroom learning, and whole school climate. Ambassadors worked closely consulting with me to discover the relevant and practical ways to apply the Model in the constantly shifting landscape of a school amidst the pandemic.

“... we’ve got to be able to lead ourselves and to be in control of the different parts of us, and to recognize and, like you say, not react from our parts and be able to know that that’s just a part and be able to be the leader of those parts.”

LEADERSHIP: All school principals participated in two or more workshops to learn the core skills to access Self and relate to their parts as relevant to their role as school leaders. They also engaged in periodic consulting to assess the progress in applying the Model to their community and adapting to changing needs.

STUDENTS: Staff, especially ambassadors, discovered multiple simple ways to bring the experience of Self leadership to their students through explicit practices and implicit daily interactions.

This year was not easy; yet, from what has been observed, Self leadership seemed to have made it possible for participants to gain resilience, to hold self-compassion, and to be present with others through their often-difficult journeys. Many educators shared “aha” moments when they experienced a shift within and a change in how they could see and relate to themselves, appreciating that this was a game changer for how they would relate to others.

One teacher shared: I remember figuring out why it was called Self leadership. I’m, like, “What does that mean?” And then when I understood, I’m like, “Ah, that makes so much sense!” (I understood that) if we are leaders, which we are as teachers, we’ve got to be able to lead ourselves and to be in control of the different parts of us, and to recognize and, like you say, not to react from our parts and be able to know that that’s just a part and be able to be the leader of those parts.

Teachers, seeing the needs of their students, also quickly and creatively explored how to translate what they were learning to benefit their students. Some devised ways to check in with each student at the door, others guided mindfulness activities to nurture more Self-energy in the classroom, while others led group discussions for students to recognize and speak for their parts and know they were not alone.

Another teacher offered this observation: My first graders have had more of an ability to identify their feelings this year and tell me first thing in the morning or throughout the day that they need a break or maybe a breathing moment or something that we can do together as a class. The anecdotes are many, the benefits are real. This year, we were fortunate to have a program evaluation thanks to a generous grant from the Foundation for Self Leadership. The results were significant and inspiring.

The Self-Led Collaborative’s efforts at schools in Connecticut were made possible through two-year funding from the Foundation for Self Leadership. This Program represents the Foundation’s second funded project attempting to introduce elements of the IFS Model in schools. Aside from funding the Program and its evaluation, the grant facilitated the development by Joanna Curry-Sartori, LMFT, of a curricular framework and related resources that are in review and being planned for publication.

The Foundation has recently engaged an advisory council to help identify next steps in its efforts to expand the presence of Self leadership programming in schools. The Foundation is grateful for the active engagement of this council’s members: Sady Kim-Singh, MSW, LCSW, Board Member & Convener; Eugenia (Kena) Acuña, restorative justice consultant; Barbara Adams, MA, former school principal; Ralph Cohen, PhD, IFS Lead Trainer and Professor of Counselor Education and Family Therapy in the College of Education at Central Connecticut State University; Rodger Goddard, PhD, Lead Psychologist at Trinitas Medical Center, NJ, and author of IFS for Teachers’ Manual; Carmen Jimenez-Pride, LCSW, LICSW-CP, Play Therapist Practitioner & Supervisor; Jennifer Krizan, LMFT, LICSW, School Counselor; and Kathryn Serino, EdD, former superintendent. Executive Director Toufic Hakim, PhD, serves as staff to the Council.


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