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

  • Dates: Wednesday, April 26, 2023 & Thursday, April 27, 2023
  • Times: 10am to 5:30pm EST (Find the time for your location)
  • Instructor: Richard C. Schwartz, PhD
  • Location: Live on Zoom
  • Credits: 12 CEs


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.


Richard C. Schwartz, PhD is a marriage and family therapist, author and creator of the Internal Family Systems model. He began his career as a systemic family therapist and an academic. He co-authored, with Michael Nichols, Family Therapy: Concepts and Methods, the most widely used family therapy text in the U.S. Dr. Schwartz was Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Institute for Juvenile Research and later at The Family Institute at Northwestern University. Currently, he is a Teaching Associate in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, at Cambridge Health Alliance. His Internal Family Systems approach to psychotherapy suggests alternative ways of understanding psychic functioning and healing creating innovative techniques for relieving clients’ suffering and symptoms. In 2000, Richard Schwartz founded the Center for Self Leadership in Oak Park, Illinois now known as IFSI, the Internal Family Systems Institute. A featured speaker for national professional organizations, Dr. Schwartz serves on editorial boards of four professional journals. He has published several books and over fifty articles about IFS. His books include: Many Minds, One Self; You Are The One You’ve Been Waiting For: Bringing Courageous Love to Intimate Relationships; Internal Family Systems Therapy; Introduction to the Internal Family Systems Model; and The Mosaic Mind: Empowering the Tormented Selves of Child Abuse Survivors (with Regina Goulding); as well as Metaframeworks(with Doug Breunlin and Betty Karrer), about transcending current models of family therapy.

Participants will learn how to:

  • Deal with client “resistance” more effectively and with less effort
  • Utilize the clients’ Self to repair attachment injuries
  • Recognize the IFS model as an internal attachment model
  • Identify the effects of trauma on parts and Self
  • Have a sense of how to utilize the model in treating trauma
  • Gain some awareness of their own parts and how those parts impact treatment
  • Explore the sources of burdens and fears
  • Identify strategies for releasing burdens and fears

Schedule for Day 1

  • 10-11:30am Overview of IFS Theory and Principles
  • 11:30-11:45am Break
  • 11:45am-1pm Definition of Self in IFS terms: Ways to Access Self of the Client Even in the Face of Trauma
  • 1-2pm Lunch
  • 2-3:30pm Using the Client’s Self to Repair Attachment Injuries: Demonstration & Discussion
  • 3:30-3:45pm Break
  • 3:45-5:30pm The IFS Model as an Internal Attachment Model: Didactic & Small Group Practice

Schedule for Day 2

  • 10-11:30am The Effects of Legacy Trauma on Parts and Self
  • 11:30-11:45am Break
  • 11:45am-1pm Using the IFS Model to Treat Legacy Burdens: Demonstration & Discussion
  • 1-2pm Lunch
  • 2-3:30pm Explore the Sources of Burdens and Fears: Video & Discussion
  • 3:30-3:45pm Break
  • 3:45-5:30pm Strategies for Releasing Burdens and Fears: Didactic & Small Group Practice

Learning Objectives

  1. Explain the basic theory and principles of Internal Family Systems therapy as they apply to working with trauma.
  2. Describe how the Internal Family Systems Model understands the primary route to healing trauma.
  3. Identify three major roles that wounded parts play in the inner system.
  4. List eight qualities that define Self.
  5. Describe how the IFS model is an internal attachment model.
  6. Explain parallels between external and internal attachment styles.
  7. Identify the effects of trauma on parts and Self.
  8. Use two methods from the IFS model to stay grounded when working with traumatized clients.
  9. Compare the way IFS works with other models that use skill building to begin trauma work.

Target Audience

This learning event is designed for helping professionals including, but not limited to, social workers, psychologists, mental health counselors, and marriage & family therapists. We designed the learning methodology to further develop beginning and intermediate professionals learning to apply the IFS Model by supporting improvement of skills for direct practice. Advanced IFS practitioners may want to attend the workshop in order to deepen their practice in direct service, supervision, and teaching roles. People who attend from professions other than those we are able to provide CEs for may request a Certificate of Attendance.


  • Individual Registration: $350; Regular Rate: $370
  • Early registration deadline is January 31, 2023.
  • NEAFAST members may access a discounted rate of $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 CEs will be available at an additional cost of $40 paid upon registration for social workers, mental health counselors, psychologists and marriage & family therapists. 12 CEs for IFS Certification will be available at no fee for those who are IFS Certified professionals.


The event will be held live on Zoom. We will not be recording this event.

Registration Instructions

Payment options include online registration with payment using PayPal as a conduit to your credit card or a PayPal account. You may also register online and mail a check with a note indicating what program the payment is for. If you are mailing payment, please note that your space is not reserved until we receive it.

Mail checks made out to Elizabeth Brenner to:
Arlington Street, Suite 4, Watertown, MA 02472

Email acknowledgments will be sent to confirm receipt of online registrations only.

An email will be sent a few days before the start date of the event with details about your program.

Workshop CEs


Participants MUST attend 100% of the program to earn the 12 CEs approved for eligible professions.

CE certificates will be given within three weeks of the end of the event after you are fully paid and have completed the evaluation form.

  • Therapy Training Boston is approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6707 for Mental Health Counselors. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. Therapy Training Boston is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.
  • This program is pending certification by the New England Association for Family and Systemic Therapy (NEAFAST) on behalf of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health & Human Services Professions for LMFT professional continuing education.
  • This activity is pending approval for 12 Social Work Continuing Education hours for re-licensure in accordance with 258 CMR by the The National Association of Social Workers Massachusetts Chapter (NASW-MA) Authorization number D90772-3 on behalf of the Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health & Human Services Professions for LICSW/LCSW professional continuing education.
  • This activity is pending certification for 12 CE credits by Amego, Inc. (DBA Amego Prepare) on behalf of the American Psychological Association for Licensed Psychologists.

Read detailed information about CEs here.

Pease Note: 12 CE credits for IFS Institute certification renewal have been approved.

Cancellations and Refunds

No refunds are available for cancellations by participants regardless of the reason or time frame. If participants cancel 30 days or more prior to the event beginning, they may apply the fee to a future program. Workshops may be cancelled by Therapy Training Boston if minimum enrollment requirements are not met or in the case of other unexpected circumstances. If this occurs, a full refund will be provided.

Additional Information

Course content level: This workshop will provide important information for clinicians who are at an introductory or intermediate level of knowledge about working with grief and traumatic loss. Advanced practitioners are welcome to attend the event to deepen their knowledge of the subject for practice, supervision, teaching, and administrative roles.

Target Audience: This offering is relevant to all helping professionals including but not limited to social workers, mental health counselors, psychologists, marriage & family therapists.

Commercial support and conflicts of interest: There is no commercial support for this program. Dr. Schwartz has written and sells books on the topic through his publishers and on the IFS Institute website. As the founder of the Internal Family Systems Model, Dr. Schwartz is biased in his assessment of the model and benefits financially from the intensive training and certification that is offered by the IFS Institute.


For all event policies read this, detailed CE information here.