Finding your “Self”: how IFS is revolutionising psychotherapy and promoting healing for addiction, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm and suicidality

Audio only version

May 26th, 2023
Dr. Richard Schwartz

Show Description

Dr. Richard Schwartz is the Founder of IFS (Internal Family Systems), an evidence-based therapy which is revolutionising traditional psychotherapy. IFS has shown to be remarkably successful where other therapies have proven to be ineffective or unsustainable in helping patients resolve issues with addictions, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, self-harm, suicidality, and other mental health problems. Its strength lies in its simple and intuitive premise that we each have parts (the fearful part, the caregiver, the perfectionist, the overachiever, the grieving part, the addict, etc, usually formed in childhood) which are often at odds with each other and can cause us to act in ways which are destructive to ourselves and others (while in fact, they are actually trying to protect us). Uniquely combining cognitive and somatic approaches, IFS teaches us to pay attention to our different parts and their relationships in order to successfully heal trauma and poor mental health.

In this fascinating interview, Dr. Schwartz explains why damaged or conflicting parts can lead to emotional pain, physical illness and mental crisis. He helps us discover why there are no “bad” parts, and how when our parts are allowed to feel safe and heard, feelings of compassion, curiosity, calm and confidence flourish. He identifies these qualities as forming our “Self”, and has found them to be fully present (though often repressed) in even his most traumatised patients. As such, IFS is one of the therapies most aligned with spiritual traditions in that it recognizes that we all have a healthy and intact “Self”, separate from our parts. He shows that by listening to these wounded parts with compassion and courage from a place of “Self”, and then speaking and acting with “Self Leadership”, speaking for our parts, rather than from our parts, we can substantially improve our professional and personal relationships, our lives, mental and physical health and happiness.

Dr. Schwartz has a PhD in family therapy, has taught at a number of institutions including University of Illinois, Northwestern and Harvard University, and has authored many best-selling books including No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model and You Are The One You’ve Been Waiting For: Bringing Courageous Love To Intimate Relationships.


Learn about:

  • What IFS is, and why it is proving to be far more successful than traditional psychotherapy 
  • How Dr. Richard Schwartz encountered the ‘parts’ phenomena by listening to his patients 
  • Why we are all made up of “parts”; ways wounded, protective and conflicting parts of ourselves are formed (usually in childhood); and why compassionately attending to these parts is the basis of IFS 
  • Why childhood trauma and attachment issues can force parts out of their naturally healthy states into roles that can be damaging 
  • The 3-step parts-map (the exiles, managers and firefighters), including how parts are forced into extreme roles (including helpful parts, such as caretaker, philanthropist, etc) and why we can spiral into mental health crises: rage, addiction, anxiety, depression, etc
  • How IFS can unburden extreme and wounded parts and heal both mental pain and physical illness 
  • How IFS recognises the “Self” as our innate core of calm, compassion, curiosity, and confidence; and why this Self remains fully intact (even in the most traumatised)
  • Why there are no ‘bad’ parts (including our egos!), and why our parts deserve recognition and gratitude for the work they do on our behalf, and in order to heal
  • How IFS liberates the 8 Cs of the “Self”: confidence, calm, compassion, courage, creativity, clarity, curiosity, and connectedness 
  • Why burdened parts can be formed externally through family legacies and culture (racism, materialism, patriarchy, social media, etc)
  • The IFS worldview; why IFS holds the potential to transform education, politics and medicine, and heal us collectively  
  • See in practice how a mini IFS session (with Dr. Richard Schwartz and Kirkland) can help process and release difficult feelings of grief

Show Notes