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New Perspectives for the Trauma Therapist: An Internal Family Systems (IFS) Approach
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One of the chief obstacles to effective trauma treatment can be the therapist’s view of trauma symptoms like dissociation, rage, and suicidal thoughts as frightening evidence of deep pathology, rather than an expression of the natural human impulse toward self-protection. This workshop will demonstrate how the IFS model offers a way to enter into clients’ inner ecology without the overemphasis on containment and stabilization that’s common in trauma work today. You’ll learn an approach that moves more quickly by honoring clients’ inner protectors, getting their permission to access inner exiles, and contacting the core Self—a reservoir of calm, wisdom, and inner leadership. You’ll discover how to:

  • Distinguish among a client’s “parts”—including protectors, managers, and exiles—and communicate and negotiate with each one
  • Honor clients’ inner protectors and transform them to move quickly and effectively through the process of healing
  • Shift the role of the therapist from primary attachment figure to a container who opens the way for the client’s core Self to emerge
  • Use methods for honestly and transparently handling situations in which traumatized clients may trigger you

Richard C. Schwartz, PhD, The Center for Self Leadership

Richard Schwartz began his career as a family therapist and an academic at the University of Illinois at Chicago. There he discovered that family therapy alone did not achieve full symptom relief and in asking patients why, he learned that they were plagued by what they called "parts." These patients became his teachers as they described how their parts formed networks of inner relationship that resembled the families he had been working with. He also found that as they focused on and, thereby, separated from their parts, they would shift into a state characterized by qualities like curiosity, calm, confidence and compassion. He called that inner essence the Self and was amazed to find it even in severely diagnosed and traumatized patients. From these explorations, the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model was born in the early 1980s.

IFS is now evidence-based and has become a widely-used form of psychotherapy, particularly with trauma. It provides a non-pathologizing, optimistic, and empowering perspective and a practical and effective set of techniques for working with individuals, couples, families, and more recently, corporations and classrooms.

In 2013, Schwartz left the Chicago area and now lives in Brookline, MA where he is on the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

 

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Dr. Richard Schwartz is the Founder and President of the IFS Institute (formerly the Center for Self Leadership). He maintains a private practice and has employment relationships with Harvard Medical School and Northwestern University. Dr. Schwartz is a published author and receives royalties. He receives a speaking honorarium and recording royalties from PESI, Inc. He has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Dr. Richard Schwartz is a member of the American Family Therapy Academy and the American Association for Marital and Family Therapy.

 


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