Introduction to Internal Family Systems (Paperback)
A highly accessible introduction to a therapeutic approach that brings our inner “parts” into harmony and allows our core Self to lead
We’re all familiar with self-talk, self-doubt, self-judgment—yet most of us still view ourselves as if we have one uniform mind. Dr. Richard Schwartz’s breakthrough was recognizing that we each contain an “internal family” of distinct parts—and that treating these parts with curiosity, respect, and empathy vastly expands our capacity to heal.
Over the past two decades, Internal Family Systems (IFS) has transformed the practice of psychotherapy. With Introduction to Internal Family Systems, the creator of IFS presents the ideal layperson’s guide for understanding this empowering, effective, and non-pathologizing approach to self-discovery and healing. Here, Dr. Schwartz shares evidence, case studies, and self-care tools to help you:
• Shift from the limiting “mono-mind” paradigm into an appreciation of your marvelous, multidimensional nature
• Unburden your wounded parts from extreme beliefs, emotions, and addictions
• Demystify the most commonly misunderstood parts—the Exiles, Managers, and Firefighters
• Transform your most challenging parts from inner obstacles to invaluable allies
• Embrace the existence of innate human goodness—in yourself and others
• Connect with the true Self that is greater than the sum of your parts
“The most wonderful discovery I have made is that as you do this work, you release, or liberate, what I call your Self or your True Self—the calm, compassionate essence of who you are,” says Dr. Schwartz. “When the Self becomes the leading intelligence in our lives, we create more harmony—both within ourselves and in our external lives.” For therapists, their clients, and anyone interested in understanding and healing themselves, here is an essential guide to a revolutionary approach to self-realization, mental wellness, and transformation.
About the Author
Richard C. Schwartz, PhD, is the creator of Internal Family Systems, a highly effective, evidence-based therapeutic model that de-pathologizes the multipart personality. His IFS Institute offers training for professionals and the general public. Formerly an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago and later at Northwestern University, he is currently on the faculty of Harvard Medical School. He has published five books and is a sought-after presenter. For more, visit ifs-institute.com.
“As human beings, we are brilliant at torturing ourselves with the multitude of our inner wrestling voices and at hiding parts of us that, if revealed, make us more authentic. Dr. Schwartz gives us a gift, a way of finding more spaciousness to enjoy life by getting curious and compassionate about the different parts of us. His stories and straightforward style on every page make this a book you’ll treasure and want to read again and again.
“In my twenty-eight years as a leadership adviser, it’s rare to come across such a gem of a book. I’d love family, friends, colleagues, practitioners, and all the leaders I’ve ever worked with to benefit from Richard’s insights and the questions he invites us to peruse—questions that left me wondering why I hadn’t asked them throughout my life. Life is much more nuanced and fascinating for having studied our human intricacies.” —Jill Ader, leadership adviser and chair of Egon Zehnder
“Rich in illuminating case examples and written with elegant simplicity and wit, this book is an ideal introduction for the general public to Richard Schwartz’s groundbreaking IFS therapy—a unique way of getting to know, befriend, and learn to lead all parts of ourselves.” —Gabor Maté, MD, author of The Myth of Normal
“It’s all the buzz to talk about ‘self-love’ these days. But how are we supposed to love the parts of us that criticize us relentlessly, drive us to strive for impossible perfection, plague us with self-doubt and feelings of unworthiness, flood us with intolerable emotions, engage in self-harming or self-sabotaging behaviors, give us health problems, lie, cheat, indulge addictions, control others, hurt the people we love, or even engage in criminal activities? The Internal Family Systems model offers us the much-needed ‘how’ of self-love. IFS is a total game changer, not just as a transformational spiritual path but as treatment for every psychiatric diagnosis in the DSM-5 and many medical diagnoses as well. Introduction to Internal Family Systems lays the foundation for how to learn to love even the most difficult parts of yourself, which opens you to a revolutionary kind of love for others in need of more self-compassion at a time when our world is in desperate need of more kindness.” —Lissa Rankin, MD, New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine and Sacred Medicine
“Internal Family Systems has helped me in my healing process and opened me up to vast modalities of healing.” —Jonathan Van Ness, Emmy®-nominated television personality, comedian, New York Times bestselling author, podcaster, hairstylist, and hair-care innovator
“In this updated Introduction to Internal Family Systems, Dr. Richard Schwartz succinctly introduces the reader to his paradigm-shifting model in an accessible and readable volume. The model reframes the historical internal dialogue between conscious intentions and bodily drives that lead to actions often experienced as unintentional. Dr. Schwartz provides—especially to those who have had a severe adversity history—an intuitive road map to explore the benefits of naturally integrative attributes of being a human. Through sharing personal experiences and therapeutic examples, he compassionately leads the reader through an effective strategy to solve the monumental intrapersonal struggles that have distracted many from experiencing safety, trust, and love.” —Stephen W. Porges, PhD, Distinguished University Scientist and founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium, Kinsey Institute, Indiana University, and author of Polyvagal Safety
“Richard Schwartz gives us a new framework to understand ourselves—and new strategies to help us show up the way we want. Introduction to Internal Family Systems is a must-have book if you’re looking to build curiosity, self-compassion, and sturdiness.” —Dr. Becky Kennedy, founder of Good Inside and author of Good Inside
“A lucid introduction to a powerful system of therapy. The IFS model has helped me, and many others, to restore a sense of calm and inner harmony.” —Tara Westover, author of Educated
“I have spent three decades studying and experimenting with different approaches to therapy and development, starting with Freud. Let me say this plainly: Dick Schwartz’s Internal Family Systems is far and away the most powerful and accessible way I’ve come across of understanding and working with the parts of ourselves that cause us the most pain. It also provides the clearest path to tapping into the remarkable goodness of our core Self.
“Introduction to Internal Family Systems is the book of Dick’s that you have to read first, and it’s one to which you’ll refer back countless times. I have been a seeker for more than five decades, and no work has made a more transformative difference in my life than IFS.” —Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, coauthor of The Power of Full Engagement, and author of The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working