Options for effective counseling and therapy

Successful work with persons using Internal Family Systems
(IFS) therapy

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Member NSRC Experts Council

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        This article is one of a series on effective professional counseling, coaching, and therapy with troubled persons, coupes and families. These articles for professionals are under construction.

        This article assumes you're familiar with:

  • The premises underlying this professional series  

  • online lessons 1 thru 6 or 7

  • The treatment model

  • Requisites for effective IFS work

  • Useful clinical and lay terms

        Before continuing, pause and reflect - why are you reading this article? What do you need?


  • Introduction to IFS work with persons

  • General goals

  • Client assessment guidelines

  • IFS intervention guidelines

  • Common IFS errors

  Introduction to IFS work with persons


Education vs. therapy

Types of IFS clients

  General goals for IFS work with persons

Establish initial trust

Educate the client on personality subselves and parts work as needed

Agree with the client on their significant psychological wounds

Agree on the goals of therapy

Evaluate what blocks the client's healing and growth

Tailor an IFS strategy to ftt clients' knowledge, values, and beliefs

  Assessment guidelines

Learn presenting problems

Learn prior clinical experiences and outcomes

GWC wounds and awareness

Experience with functional team & effective leader?

Personal strengths and limitations / visual ability / spirituality

Assess IFS knowledge, if any



  IFS intervention guidelines

IFS education as needed

suggest using "a part of me..." vs "I,,,"

explain and draft initial parts profile

identify most impactful parts,  and pick 1

explain befriending and retraining

facilitate initial parts dialog / answer questions / explore resistances

use rescuing / redoing / reassigning as needed


common strategies

case studies

  Common IFS errors





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