Internal Family Systems Therapy: Step by Step Procedures for Healing Traumatic Wounds, and Alleviating Depression, Anxiety, Trauma and More

Presented by Alexia Rothman, Ph.D.

On Demand | Available Now


12 Hours  |   Pre-approved for CEU’s


This online course is on-demand.

Recorded footage and all course content (certificate, videos, quiz) will be available until May 10, 2023. Extensions cannot be granted under any circumstances. 

Registration will close on May 3, 2023. 

After decades of clinical innovation and recent scientific research, the empirically validated Internal Family Systems (IFS) model has been shown to be effective at improving clients’ general functioning and well-being. This paradigm-shifting model provides clinicians with procedures for helping clients with the most challenging mental health profiles heal the wounded, burdened, and traumatized parts of their systems.

The IFS model provides a compassionate, respectful, non-pathologizing approach to understanding the organization and functioning of the human psyche.

The transformative IFS approach embraces and celebrates the natural multiplicity of the mind. Its assumption that every part of the system has good intention and valuable resources allows clinicians to approach even the most troubling of “symptoms” with curiosity and respect. IFS offers therapists a powerful and effective set of tools for empowering clients with a wide range of clinical profiles to heal their wounded parts, resulting in:

  • a way to enter clients’ inner ecology without the overemphasis on containment and stabilization
  • symptom reduction, increased internal harmony and improved functioning for clients
  • deep self-healing within even the most troubled clients

IFS is a powerful treatment modality. Once you experience it, you will want to incorporate it into your practice.

Through instruction, video demonstration, and experiential exercises, Alexia D. Rothman, Ph.D., Certified IFS therapist and consultant and colleague of Dr. Richard Schwartz (founder of IFS) will show you step-by-step how to apply the most effective, empirically validated IFS interventions to help your clients connect with and understand their conflicting parts to facilitate deep, lasting healing.

Internal Family Systems (IFS)

  • Comprehensive, compassionate, non-pathologizing treatment approach
  • Paradigm-shifting perspective on “psychopathology”
  • Easily integrated into other therapeutic modalities
  • Teach clients to access inner wisdom and self-compassion to permanently heal traumatic wounds

Evolution of the Model

  • Development of the IFS model by Richard C. Schwartz, Ph.D.
  • IFS as an empirically validated treatment: Summary of research support

Composition of the Psyche

  • Concept of multiplicity: “We are all multiple personalities.”
  • Components of the psyche:
    • Wounded, vulnerable, parts
    • Protective parts: proactive and reactive
    • Burdens: Negative/extreme emotions or beliefs
    • The Self: compassionate inner leader and internal source of wisdom and healing energy
  • Guide clients to access their own inner wisdom and healing potential
  • IFS-specific techniques for in-the-moment emotion regulation, helpful even with panic, flashbacks, and dissociation

The IFS Model

  • Assumptions of the model
  • Goals of IFS therapy
  • Flow of the IFS model over the course of treatment
  • Flow of an individual IFS session

Case conceptualization in IFS

  • Diversity and cultural sensitivity
  • How IFS understands Personality Disorders, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and Addiction

IFS Step-by-Step

Step 1: Using Meditative Processes to Identify and Connect with a Target Part

  • Differentiate the person from the symptom
  • Access a state of compassion and curiosity essential for healing
  • Establish a relationship with the target part

Step 2: Working with Protective Parts

  • Establish a trusting and appreciative relationship with proactive and reactive protectors
    • Facilitate internal attachment work
  • Learn the history and benevolent intention behind the symptom/behaviour
  • Learn and address the fears/concerns of protective parts
  • Gain permission to proceed to healing

Step 3: Healing the Traumatic Wound

  • Develop a compassionate, connected relationship with the wounded part
  • Witness the pain rather than re-experience it: Learn to be “with”, not “in”, to avoid re-traumatization
  • Retrieve the wounded part from “trauma time”
  • Release/unburden thoughts, feelings, and beliefs
  • Integrate change into the system: the post-healing process

The Therapeutic Relationship in IFS

  • Qualities of the IFS therapist
  • Gain increased access to our inner wisdom and healing presence in the clinical setting
  • Transference and Countertransference redefined
  • Identifying and working with “Self-Like” Parts
  • The U-Turn technique
  • The neurobiology of empathy vs. compassion and their roles in the healing process


Working with Protectors in Extreme Roles

  • Interact directly with the symptom (Direct Access)
  • Facilitate the development of Self-to-Part relationships
  • How to stay clear and calm when working with clients in extreme states
  • How to be the “auxiliary brain” for your client when necessary
  • Identify parts characterized by hyperarousal and hypoarousal
    • Use neuroscience-informed intervention strategies to help clients move towards a more optimal state of arousal


Polarizations in the Internal System

  • Understand polarizations and identify when they are present
  • Understand the cycle of addiction (an example of an extreme polarization) through an IFS lens
  • Work effectively with polarized parts
  • Self-led negotiation
  • Resolve inner conflicts and increase internal harmony


Bringing IFS Concepts to Life

  • Experiential exercises
  • Video demonstrations of IFS therapy with real clients
  • Step-by-step commentary to solidify understanding of techniques illustrated in the video sessions
  1. Present the origins and development of the Internal Family Systems Model, including empirical support for the model and the current status of research using IFS to treat depression and post traumatic stress disorder.
  2. Provide an in-depth overview of IFS theory, the basic principles and assumptions of the model, and its treatment implications.
  3. Describe the three major components of the psyche as outlined by IFS (parts, burdens, and the Self) including the characteristics of and assumptions regarding each component as they relate to clinical practice.
  4. Provide a grounding in IFS procedures and techniques that can be implemented immediately in clinical and personal work, including the steps for facilitating the development of Self-to-Part relationships (the Six F’s).
  5. Discuss the process of working with protective Parts, including how to honestly and effectively address their concerns, to improve treatment outcomes in individuals with trauma histories.
  6. Explain IFS theory and techniques for working with protective Parts in extreme roles, such as suicidality, self-harm, addictive behaviours, and dissociation.
  7. Describe how to respond to the extreme symptoms of trauma by determining if they are rooted in sympathetic activation or parasympathetic withdrawal.
  8. Discuss the Self-led presence of the therapist, one of the most crucial elements in achieving maximal effectiveness as an IFS therapist, as well as how to work with our own systems to gain increased access to Self-Energy in the treatment setting.
  9. Differentiate between empathy and compassion as it relates to the IFS approach and to facilitating the therapeutic process.
  10. Identify polarizations in the internal system and how to work with them, with special emphasis on the cycle of addiction as conceptualized and treated through an IFS lens.
  11. Describe the steps of healing and unburdening wounded parts of the internal system.

Clinical Professionals: All mental health professionals including, but not limited to Clinical Counsellors, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Social Workers, Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Hospice and Palliative Care Workers, School Counsellors, Youth Workers, Mental Health Workers, Addiction Specialists, Marital & Family Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists, Vocational Rehabilitation Consultants and all professionals looking to enhance their therapeutic skills.

Alexia Rothman, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Atlanta, GA, since 2004.  She is a Certified Internal Family Systems therapist, an international speaker and educator on the IFS model, and a professional consultant for clinicians seeking to deepen their knowledge and practice of IFS through theoretical discussions, case consultation, technique practice, and deep, personal experiential work with their own internal systems.  Dr. Rothman has received extensive training in the IFS model, primarily from IFS developer, Dr. Richard Schwartz.  She has served as a Program Assistant for multiple Level 1, 2, and 3 experiential IFS trainings, and she offers workshops on the IFS model throughout the United States and abroad.  She currently co-hosts an Internal Family Systems-informed podcast, Explorations in Psychotherapy.

Dr. Rothman is a United States Presidential Scholar who graduated summa cum laude from Emory University as a Robert W. Woodruff Scholar.  She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she was an Edwin W. Pauley Fellow and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.  She has held adjunct faculty positions at Emory University and Agnes Scott College.

RegistrationEarly bird FeeRegular Fee
Individual Enrollment$449.00N/A
Full-Time Student$359.00N/A

All fees are in Canadian dollars ($CAD).

For group and/or student rates please view our Terms & Conditions and contact for more information and registration. 

  • Canadian Psychological Association
    The Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW) and the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Social Workers (NLASW) accept CPA-approved continuing education credits