Trauma and the Internal Family Systems Model: Releasing Personal and Legacy Burdens

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Richard C. Schwartz, PhD.


Location: Live on Zoom, this event will not be recorded.


Thursday, April 4, 2024 & Friday, April 5, 2024

This presentation will provide a brief review of the basics of the IFS model by Richard Schwartz, PhD, who developed the model, then will focus in detail on its use with attachment injuries and trauma related presenting problems. IFS is a non-pathologizing, hopeful framework within which to practice psychotherapy certified as an evidence-based practice by SAMHSA. IFS offers both a conceptual umbrella under which a variety of practices and different approaches can be grounded and guided, and a set of original techniques for creating safety and fostering Self-to-Self connection in individuals, couples, and families. The model posits that people have a core Self that is unharmed by traumatic events. The path to healing in the IFS model is to facilitate a process that releases constraints to people living a life that is led by their core Self rather than from aspects of themselves, called parts, that act from reactive and defensive stances, causing further problems in an effort to help or protect.

Grounded in systems thinking, Dr. Schwartz developed Internal Family Systems, in response to clients’ descriptions of various parts within themselves. He focused on the systemic relationships patterns among these parts that were similarly organized across clients. He found that when clients’ parts felt safe and were allowed to relax, they would experience spontaneously the qualities of confidence, openness, and compassion that Dr. Schwartz came to call the Self. He will show us how to support clients in that state of Self, to facilitate their healing of their own parts.

The first day of the workshop will focus on helping clients release personal burdens related to traumatic experiences in their lives. An overview of the clinical applications of IFS in trauma work will be presented. You will learn through didactic teaching, interactive dialogue, demonstration, and live interviews.

During the second day, the focus will be on understanding and releasing legacy burdens. Legacy burdens are powerful organizers of our minds and behaviors. Dr. Schwartz will teach about the beliefs and emotions we and our clients absorb from family, peers, ethnic groups and cultural contexts regarding ourselves and/or groups with whom we identify, as well as groups we consider “other.” We will explore the sources of those burdens and the fears of releasing them. This work is critically important to create more peace and less divisiveness in our often-fractured world. Through the concept of legacy burdens and the path to healing them, Dr. Schwartz will posit a way of understanding ethnic, racial and other differences related to intersecting identities that create paths to a more ethical and just approaches to working across differences between and among the people with whom we work.

Dr. Schwartz will discuss contraindications to using IFS therapy as well as the ways the model can and cannot be easily integrated with other approaches to trauma work. He will discuss current research on the model including limitations of the data and needs for further study.

Statement of Need: Prior to the pandemic there was a greater need for trauma trained mental health professionals than there were clinicians available. Currently, we are living in a time of significant added stress, trauma, complicated grief, and uncertainty. IFS is a model that was developed as an intervention to support clients with dangerous trauma reactive behaviors who were not responding well to traditional methods. This two-day workshop will provide clinicians working with a wide range of clients and traumatic reactions many concepts and methods to enhance their capacity to serve this population.


  • Individual Registration: Regular Rate—$375; Early Bird Rate: $350
  • Early Registration Deadline: January 31, 2023
  • NEAFAST Member Rate: $330
  • Black Therapists Rock, National Association of Black Counselors and all BIPOC clinicians may access an equity rate of $280.
  • Please contact us for discount codes. No application is required.
  • 12 CEUs will be available at an additional cost of $40 paid upon registration for social workers, mental health counselors, and marriage & family therapists. 12 CEUs for IFS Certification will be available at no fee for those who are IFS Certified professionals.


Learn more and register