IFS – Internal Family Systems

In an interview with Yo-Yo Ma by David Marchese of the NY Times, Yo-Yo Ma spoke about the quality of interaction he aims to deliver to his audience: Presence.

Yo-Yo Ma: As a performer, my job is to make the listener the most important person in the room. The only way to avoid burnout is to care about where you are. Being present. Caring. You’re working with living material. That goes back to memory. The living material is only living if it is memorable. Not only that it’s memorable but that you pass it on. That is what I’m thinking about with every single interaction. Whether it’s a kid, someone on the street, in a concert hall or with you.... It’s the same thing: How to be present. Because if you’re not?

Marchese: Then why are we here?

Yo-Yo Ma: That’s it. You are acknowledging someone’s existence by being present. It may take a lot more energy, but boy, is it much more rewarding. It makes me happy. It makes people happy. It’s wonderful.


Yo-Yo Ma is a great musician, in part because he has the ability to be highly present and caring, along with valuing the people he is playing for.

These are the same qualities you want in a skillful therapist. Being present, compassionate, and connected are not something any of us can achieve every minute of every day, but we can work toward it.

One of the benefits of IFS (Internal Family Systems) is that practicing IFS makes it easier to be present, compassionate, and connected. When we learn about the needs of our parts, heal those parts that have been hurt, and release other parts that have been laboring under extreme conditions, we enable our highest Self to lead our system. When that happens, both therapist and client will naturally show these positive qualities that have actually been within us all along.

If you want greater access in your life to connectedness, loving compassion, calmness, confidence, patience, presence, perhaps it's time for you to give IFS a chance! Send me an email to learn how we could work together to meet your goals.


IFS (Internal Family Systems) is effective and powerful precisely because it is gentle and respectful.

Some clients are happy to use the process and not think about how it works. That's perfectly fine. Others want to understand the theory behind IFS and that's fine, too.

If you're someone who wants to know more about how we believe IFS works, this list of some of the key principles of the IFS model is for you!

  • IFS teaches us to appreciate the natural complexity inside all of us. IFS believes we each have a "multiplicity of mind" as opposed to a "unity of personality."
  • Especially as children, we learn multiple ways of behaving around our caretakers and other key people in order to protect us and keep us safe.
  • IFS calls these patterns "parts," "aspects," or "personalities."
  • Through IFS, we learn to recognize our many parts and appreciate how each of our parts is trying to help us.
  • These learned patterns or parts continue to appear throughout our life and, if they become extreme, can cause us difficulty when we are triggered.
  • Our first impulse is usually to wish we could get rid of these difficult parts, but that is not possible.
  • Instead, IFS teaches us how to treat these multiple aspects of ourselves with respect and compassion.
  • IFS helps us access something deeper than rational thought. Thinking has helped us survive childhood but is largely ineffective in helping us change deep-seated problems.
  • IFS gives us support in learning how to access our "best Self," an inner power that has always been with us, but has frequently been overshadowed by our protective parts.
  • The gentleness of the IFS approach gains the trust and cooperation of our protector parts, which allows us to connect with and heal the hurt parts that have been hidden away inside of us.
  • As we learn to approach our parts with compassion, our seemingly difficult parts can soften, recognize that they are no longer in a trauma situation, and become peacefully integrated into our internal system.
  • This deep healing frees us to function much more calmly, creatively, and confidently.

In this video, Tori Olds introduces key concepts of the IFS model

Tori has other YouTube videos on IFS, too.

You don't need to remember or understand all of this to begin using IFS to begin transforming your life! That's my job.

I have specialized in providing IFS therapy because working with IFS lights my fire. I'd be honored to help you turn your life around with IFS, too.

If you're curious about whether IFS could work for you, let's set up a brief conversation so we can talk about what your goals and needs are.


Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a powerful tool for calming the anxious mental chatter and conflicted emotions we feel inside us. IFS provides a way for us to connect with the parts within us, learn from these parts, and move toward healing with much increased calmness, compassion, and authenticity.

As we heal with IFS, our inner world becomes understandable and less threatening. We also find it easier to navigate the external social world.

I provide IFS therapy, most often through on-line teletherapy. If you're wondering why you're anxious or depressed, or why you do things you'd rather not do, or just curious about how IFS might help you, contact me for more information.

In this short video, Dick Schwartz explains how IFS works.