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Evolution of The Internal Family Systems Model By Mobius Friend, Dr. Richard Schwartz Additional materials from the author are located in the Reading Room on www.mobiusleadership.com under Next Practice Institute.

The Internal Family Systems Model (IFS) has evolved over with Freud’s id, ego, and superego, and more recently the past twenty years into a comprehensive approach that the object relations conceptions of internal objects. includes guidelines for working with individuals, couples, These ideas are also at the core of less mainstream and families. The IFS Model represents a new synthesis approaches such as transactional analysis (ego states) of two already-existing paradigms: systems thinking and and psychosynthesis (subpersonalities), and are now the multiplicity of the mind. It brings manifesting in cognitive-behavioral concepts and methods from the approaches under the term structural, strategic, narrative, and The IFS Model views a schemata. Prior to IFS, however, Bowenian schools of family therapy little attention was given to how person as containing an to the world of subpersonalities. these inner entities functioned in This synthesis was the natural ecology of relatively discrete relation to each other. outcome that evolved after I, as Since I was steeped in systems minds, each of which has a young, fervent family therapist, thinking, it was second nature to began hearing from my clients about valuable qualities and each begin tracking sequences of internal their inner lives. Once I was able to interactions in the same way I had of which is designed to play tracked interactions among family set aside my preconceived notions about therapy and the mind, and members. As I did, I learned that a valuable role within. began to really listen to what my parts take on common roles and clients were saying, what I heard common inner relationships. I also repeatedly were descriptions of what they often called learned that these inner roles and relationships were their “parts” ­— the conflicted subpersonalities that not static and could be changed if one intervened resided within them. carefully and respectfully. I began conceiving of the mind This was not a new discovery. Many other theorists as an inner family and experimenting with techniques I have described a similar inner phenomenon, beginning had used as a family therapist.

Reprinted with special permission from the author. Copyright. All rights reserved

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