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Internal Family Systems Therapy (The Guilford Family Therapy) Hardcover – November 4, 1994

4.7 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Internal Family Systems Therapy (The Guilford Family Therapy)
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  • Self-Therapy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Creating Wholeness and Healing Your Inner Child Using IFS, A New, Cutting-Edge Psychotherapy, 2nd Edition
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  • Self-Therapy Workbook: An Exercise Book For The IFS Process
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Editorial Reviews


"Offers the clinician a new tool for understanding internal conflicts and methods for working with themes of ambivalence and conflicting desires."
(American Journal of Psychotherapy 1997-07-13)

"A hallmark of humbleness and thoroughness. Schwartz recognizes that he is not the first theorist to view the mind as a multiplicity-oriented entity....His thoroughness shines as he provides detailed instructions for assessing and working with individuals' internal family systems. In a refreshing stance, he also discusses the common mistakes and pitfalls that new therapists make in practicing this model....This book will be both theoretically enriching and clinically helpful."
(Journal of Family Psychotherapy 1997-07-13)

From the Back Cover

Most theorists who have explored the human psyche have viewed it as inhabited by subpersonalities. Beginning with Freud's description of the id, ego, and superego, these inner entities have been given a variety of names, including internal objects, ego states, archetypes and complexes, subselves, inner voices, and parts. Regardless of name, they are depicted in remarkably similar ways across theories and are viewed as having powerful effects on our thoughts and feelings. In his important new book, Richard C. Schwartz applies the systems concepts of family therapy to this intrapsychic realm. The result is a new understanding of the nature of people's subpersonalities and how they operate as an inner ecology, as well as a new method for helping people change their inner worlds. Called the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model, this approach is based on the premise that people's subpersonalities interact and change in many of the same ways that families or other human groups do. The model provides a usable map of this intrapsychic territory and explicates its parallels with family interactions. The IFS model can be used to illuminate how and why parts of a person polarize with one another, creating paralyzing inner alliances that resemble the destructive coalitions found in dysfunctional families. It can also be utilized to tap core resources within people. Drawing from years of clinical experience, the author offers specific guidelines for helping clients release their potential and bring balance and harmony to their subpersonalities so they feel more integrated, confident, and alive. Schwartz also examines the common pitfalls that can increase intrapsychic fragmentation and describes indetail how to avoid them. Finally, the book extends IFS concepts and methods to our understanding of culture and families, producing a unique form of family and couples therapy that is clearly detailed and has straightforward instructions for treatment. Offering a comprehensive approach to human problems that allows therapists to move fluidly between the intrapsychic and family levels, this book will appeal to both individual- and family-oriented therapists. Easily integrated with other orientations, the IFS model provides a nonpathologizing way of understanding problems or diagnoses, and a clearly delineated way to create an enjoyable, collaborative relationship with clients.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Guilford Family Therapy
  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: The Guilford Press; 1 edition (November 4, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898622735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898622737
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,074,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Internal Family Systems Therapy by Richard C. Schwartz represents the author's attempt at documenting a fascinating journey into the inner lives of clients. His model uniquely applies systems thinking to internal process, seeing our inner lives as yet another level of human systems. As I read this book, I was taken aback by how psychodynamics suddenly became coherent to me in a way that made intuitive and intellectual sense. Schwartz takes the reader through the development of the IFS model, and demonstrates how the therapy emerged from his interactions with his clients. He is successful in describing the step-by-step process of IFS therapy that is tied directly to the theory.
The IFS model assumes that we all are "multiple personalities", organized by a "self" that is compassionate, curious, and expansive. These sub-personalities, or "parts", are all good and are with us from birth. They are kept in balance and harmony through self-leadership. When the self is threatened by trauma or devaluation from the outside world, the parts protect the self from harm; in doing so, they also lose trust in the self's ability to provide leadership and safety. In "exiling" the self for its own protection, these parts become extreme and polarized; the parts that were hurt carry the burdens of pain and suffering ("exiles") that other parts (i.e., "managers" and "firefighters") try to keep out of conscious awareness through various roles and operations. This becomes a recursive system which feeds upon itself to create symptoms when a person is under stress. These parts, which have been forced into extreme roles, are often identified by mental health professionals as symptoms or "psychopathology".
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Format: Paperback
IFS has been a godsend to me. As a victim of long-term, sometimes torturous sexual abuse as a child, I tried to fight my way out of my pain for decades. I bounced from therapist to therapist expecting nothing more than to find a few good coping techniques to get me through the rest of my life. But I FINALLY met a therapist who seemed to hold the key, IFS. We've been working with IFS for about 2+ years and the results I've enjoyed go beyond my wildest imagination. I've found a love of myself...part by part...that I can only describe as miraculous.

If you are a mental health professional then please do yourself and your clients a huge favor by exploring this model.
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Format: Paperback
Through personal application of the therapies described in this book, I found it to be profoundly enlightening. It shed bright lights on the origins of my own thoughts and self-talk. Experiencing the benefits of the therapies, seeing that they work, it provided the best form of teaching to me as to how it can be a valuable resource for helping one's self and for helping others. Having specialized in pastoral counseling while earning my Masters of Divinity degree, this book has done more to help me understand the multiple (and valuable) personalities all persons develop from childhood to adulthood and then how to use these therapies in a counseling setting. Its methods provide such a positive way of looking at ourselves, at other individuals, and at family dynamics. The concept of internal family systems therapy makes so much sense that I hope more therapists and counselors discover it, utilize it, and recommend it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a therapy client whose therapist had been using IFS-based techniques with me for some time, though I hadn't known what the name for it was. While I could appreciate some of what she was doing, I was also pretty resistant to the whole premise that I should be compassionate and curious about "parts" of me that frankly I just wished would go away. In my previous experiences with therapy, I had been taught to distinguish between my rational, adult inner voice, and a vulnerable, emotional child voice, which seemed to make logical sense to me, but with this approach to therapy I was being asked to develop caring relationships with internal parts of myself that were angry or destructive or otherwise unlikeable on the surface, and frankly that seemed completely absurd.

Despite my doubts, I stuck with it, and slowly things started to happen for me, and then when my therapist mentioned IFS by name, I found this book and all these pieces started to come together. Although the book is really a textbook for therapists, I found it quite readable as a client, and so many things began to make sense about what was happening to me in therapy, and what role I needed to play in the process for the technique to be really effective. Having a big picture sense of the IFS methodology was incredibly enlightening and helpful, and I've made all sorts of progress that I think would have been much slower had I not read the book.

I think that the book would also be readable for someone who wasn't either a therapist or a client in an IFS setting, but there are limited examples and case studies in the book, so some things might be a bit vague and theoretical.
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