IFS is a form of psychotherapy founded by Richard Schwartz in the 1980s and developed by him and colleagues since then, having become very popular in the last few years. Its main features are that it is:

Parts-based – it recognises that we all consist of different parts or sub-personalities: these appear in response to the traumas, great or small, that we all experience in life, especially when we were young and vulnerable

A systems therapy – as in systemic family therapy, out of which IFS developed and from which it takes its name, individual parts can only be understood in the context of their relations to each other, within the ecology of the whole system

Non-pathologising – all parts, even extreme or destructive ones, are fundamentally well-intentioned as they trying their best to protect the system – when we listen to their concerns and gain their trust, they may be able to update themselves; there are ‘no bad parts’

A constraint-release model – parts are burdened by their painful experiences or by being forced into protective roles – they can be permanently relieved of these burdens when the time is right, bringing great relief and a new-found sense of joy and purpose to the client

There is a wealth of information about IFS on the web, such as:


YouTube has a number of videos, such as this interview with Richard Schwartz:


And this podcast is an interview with Richard Schwartz: