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Internal Family Systems Therapy

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  565 ratings  ·  46 reviews
This book has been replaced by Internal Family Systems Therapy, Second Edition, ISBN 978-1-4625-4146-1.
Paperback, 248 pages
Published July 11th 1997 by The Guilford Press (first published 1994)
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Average rating 4.29  · 
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 ·  565 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Jeanine Marie Swenson
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This psychotherapeutic model really resonates with me and all of my parts.
Keith Wilson
Jun 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
You are divided. You must have noticed this when you’re trying to decide whether to have that chocolate cake, or stick to your diet; when you rise, groaning from your bed, despite how comfortable that pillow looks; when you want to tell your boss to shove it, but instead say, Yes Sir. It’s like, up there in your mind, you have a boardroom with an array of directors all around the table. Your mother’s voice is heard sometimes. Also your father, your big brother, who called you a spoiled brat, and ...more
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I learned about Internal Family Systems Therapy in van der Kolk's landmark reference book on trauma "The Body Keeps the Score". Based on this and a podcast interview with Schwartz, I began to intuitively use ego states work in my clinical process and found the approach extremely useful. In going back to Schwartz' original book I very much appreciate the genius in this model. Schwartz' introductory book on his method is wonderfully easy to read and filled with excellent case examples from his wor ...more
Apr 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
For the more advanced seeker. This book provides an applicable theory to how emotions work and why we make the decisions we make. It has changed my whole world view and is a tool that has allowed me to learn how to have more grace toward myself and as a result, I have more grace to give to others.
Oct 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
I love parts work big-time. I just wished it didn't focus so heavily on eating disorders. However, it is well worth a read for its richness, it's depth and it's clear explanation of the way in which the multiplicity of self can be honored in therapy and attended to in the service of healing. ...more
I would like to recommend an introduction to IFS by Kaj Sotala:
Sotala approaches IFS with an artificial intelligence analogy, which might make the model lucid to especially people who have more background in thinking such as required in programming rather than psychotherapy and emotional work. Although I studied psychology, this introduction helped me a lot too.


Brief comment on the 2nd edition: I really like the model, find it highly useful, like how i
Lora Rivera
Oct 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
This model seems to make a lot of intuitive sense. Well-laid out. I would've liked the chance to look at a single-parent situation. I also expected a less simplified analysis of societal/cultural burdens... ...more
Tim Sotoadeh
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Incredible updated version. Highly recommended to anyone who wants to go for a deep dive into the Internal Family Systems therapeutic modality. IFS is a game changer and truly remarkable tool for healing.
Jan 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology, identity
About how we internalize and deal with pain. Really insightful.
Luiz Fabricio Calland Cerqueira
I took a really long time to read it and didn´t really finish it. I used the 70% rule. It´s good, but feels like an overcomplicated ego-state therapy. I already read the self-therapy version of this approach and I suppose it makes more sense in that case... but in real therapy, I get the use of around 50% of it. The rest seems like over doing it.
Feb 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a life-changing book (second edition, 2020) which offered me a new and exciting way of looking at my life, personality, and experiences in terms of my "internal family." It also applies this systems approach to couples, families, and larger social groups. It is a compassionate, non-stigmatizing approach to achieving personal growth and harmony. Although aimed primarily at professional practitioners, it is accessible to a layman (such as myself) who puts in the effort. A slow read, but we ...more
Nadya De Angelis
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Much I owe to the Land that grew
More to the Life that fed
But most to Allah Who gave me two
Separate sides to my head.


The book's central thesis is that there are not two, but many separate sides within us, and this has nothing to do with a "Multiple Personality Disorder". Like different characters in a play, they behave more or less like real people within a family circle: some dominate, some block what they think is harmful for you, some push you to do bad things, some constantly suffe
Krzys Piekarski
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deeply valuable and profound. One of those "if only everyone could read and practice this, we'd have a shot at saving ourselves." ...more
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitely a book for therapists using Internal Family Systems, Parts work. I am a trained and certified Brainspotting Therapist, just recently, and have never used Parts work until a training in Brainspotting. When I went into my practicum as the client, WOW, my parts came out and I was overwhelmed at how quickly my younger parts came out and wanted to speak. Absolutely incredible. I decided this year when learning this that I immediately wanted to start using Parts work with my clients. This b ...more
Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
It was recommended that I check out some reading material on Internal Family Systems Therapy, so I picked up this book. While it’s now rather outdated (a second edition has been written), it is still a really fascinating and user-friendly book on parts work. While the material is intended and organized for practitioners, it’s well-written and easy for any curious reader to follow. Under this line of therapy, the goal is to minimize the polarizations that exist between our various parts and by do ...more
Gary Martin
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Convincing, well-written, inspiring

This book was recommended to me through the Out of the Storm online community ( Out of the Storm is a community of those who have experienced relational (aka complex) trauma. The recommendation was that it could teach one to be one's own therapist. While it is written for therapists, it is very accessible by lay people. It gives me hope far beyond healing my own condition.
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
2020 edition: The 2020 edition thoroughly deepened my understanding, application, and effectiveness of using the Internal Family Systems Therapy therapeutic model. IFS is easily the most effective, gentle, creative, and pleasant therapeutic model that I have studied and practiced.

1997 edition: Until the new version was released, I found this book to be the most thorough explanation of the most effective therapeutic model that I have studied and practiced.
Stephanie Mitchell
The seminal book on this topic. If you are learning IFS then read all of these books! Richard Schwartz is an exceptional therapist who has dedicated his life to really listening to his clients. The only trauma therapy approach that I believe has consistently done this!!! A radically different approach to other trauma processing approaches, changed my life and changed my clinical practice.
Lew Brown
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is a challenging read but it is it worth the time and effort to explore a radical new way to
look at the human psyche. I agree with Schwartz that mental health providers need to reframe their
thinking about psychological functioning, emotional disorders and the connection between the
mind and the body.
Becky L Long
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Audiobook: narrated by Brian Arens. I was recently introduced to IFS and wanted to learn more. Info packed book. Makes me want to find a therapist specializing in IFS. Not really a "how to fix yourself" book but more "what is IFS and how is it being used for treatment". I will likely be digging in more to this topic in the future. Great introduction to IFS. ...more
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychotherapy, ifs
This was a strong foundational book as an introduction to Internal Family Systems Therapy. I also appreciated how the author gave attention to the role of each family member's internal system on the overall family system. ...more
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This transformative therapy has helped me heal in ways I never dreamed possible. I can’t wait to guide others in this work. Here’s to Self-led humans and a more Self-led world where we love all of our parts and have access to our divine multitudes.
Claudia Cortese
Sep 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book revolutionized how I see myself and others. A paradigm shifting, game changing theory about the plural mind and the multitudinous self, IFS answers so many questions about why we do what we do, why we think how we think, and—ultimately—how we all have the potential to heal ourselves
Stephanie Goldsmith
Dec 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I just read the second addition of this (2020) but thats not an option on Goodreads yet. IFS is incredible helpful, especially with clients who have deep trauma. I am so glad I found Schwartz and Janina Fisher's work. ...more
Zachary Ransom
This is an incredibly interesting read. It is not a leisurely read but is incredibly useful if you are interested in the psyche and/or treatment modalities. I am highly intrigued by IFS. I cannot wait to read other texts and to hopefully obtain official training in this modality.
Maren Cotton
Jan 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the must-read text book for any one wanting to learn about IFS therapy. IFS is amazing - it has changed my life personally and has become my therapy modality of choice in my professional role as a therapist.
Feb 06, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Interesting to learn of yet another metaphor to get people to know themselves.
I got a little turned off by the excess of SJWing and rousseauism, but this was first published in 1994 and I guess back then this way of seeing the world was less overused and tiresome.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting theory
Anne Kadet
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A whole new and super helpful way of looking at everything.
Roberta Fish
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent information about internal family systems. Helpful to therapy.
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Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
75 likes · 11 comments
“Imbalanced systems,whether internal or external, will tend to polarize.” 5 likes
“A part is not just a temporary emotional state or habitual thought pattern. Instead, it is a discrete and autonomous mental system that has an idiosyncratic range of emotion, style of expression, set of abilities, desires, and view of the world. In other words, it is as if we each contain a society of people, each of whom is at a different age and has different interests, talents, and temperaments. In” 4 likes
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