VIDEO: How Symptoms Reveal the Path to Growth

IFS Developer Richard Schwartz on Befriending the Inner "Protector"

Richard Schwartz

Many times when we become anxious, we view our rapid heartbeat, heavy breathing, and cold sweat as an inconvenience. But according to Richard Schwartz, the originator of Internal Family Systems (IFS), we need to understand these symptoms differently. In fact, he argues, we need to learn how to befriend them. Then and only then, he says, can we not only heal the trauma that constricts us, but help these symptoms abate as well.

In the following video clip with Networker editor Rich Simon, Schwartz explains his method.

Richard Schwartz, PhD, is director of the Center for Self Leadership and the originator of the IFS model. He’s on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and the author of Internal Family Systems Therapy.

As Schwartz explains, trauma survivors can actually begin a dialogue with their fearful “inner parts” and take the first step in moving from being frozen in a traumatic moment in the past to entering into the present.

“In the absence of self-leadership, inner parts become scared, rigid, and polarized, like older kids in a parentless house,” Schwartz says in his Networker article. “With IFS, things like flashbacks, dissociation, and panic attacks are useful signposts indicating what needs to happen in therapy. Beneath the surface of their parts, all clients have an undamaged, healing self.”


Did you enjoy this video? You might also enjoy Schwartz's article, Facing Our Dark Side, to find out how we can deal with inner parts that might bring us shame or embarrassment, or When Meditation Isn't Enough, where he explains how to help clients transform the disruptive feelings and thoughts that they’ve learned and simply observe them during meditation.

Topic: Trauma | Anxiety/Depression

Tags: complex trauma | family | family systems | family systems therapy | internal family systems | kids | panic attack | panic attacks | survivors | therapy | trauma treatment | traumatic | treating trauma | Dick Schwartz | IFS | inner parts | Richard Schwartz PhD

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1 Comment

Saturday, August 18, 2018 4:58:58 PM | posted by
I am in total agreement with the underlying perspective, and in particular with the assumption of an "undamaged healing self." My particular analogous concepts are that there exists a natural healing process for what I refer to as a psychological "injury," which is assumed to have an interpersonal origin and which effect cannot be significantly altered by a conscious act. The facilitative condition for this natural healing process is the unforced activation of the client's emotional experiencing, which occurs coincident with the client receiving sufficient support for their experiencing. The typical result is a therapeutic emotional release. A nontherapeutic emotional release occurs because of the forced activation of the client's emotional experiencing. This typically occurs when an unexpected stimulus activates too much unresolved stuff. It also occurs when a therapist is too directive, and does not follow the principle of DO NOT distract the client from their experiencing.