Do you sometimes say or think things like “A part of me wants to do this, but another part says don’t bother, you will only fail and embarrass yourself”? This second part is an “inner critic” who may believe it is protecting you from the embarrassment of failure, perhaps reflecting memories of past embarrassing experiences.

There are many clinical approaches that conceptualize inner emotional conflicts as including tensions between different “ego states” or “subpersonalities” of the human mind. One of the most popular ego state approaches is Dr. Richard Schwartz’s Internal Family Systems model (IFS), and in this approach distinct ego states  are referred to as "parts". IFS describes how the patterns and roles found in families and in other social groups or organizations have an analogous template in the domain of mental functioning-- where our inner psychological system includes parts that serve specific roles and purposes, and where there are often polarizations as well as alliances between specific parts.

IFSM includes the profound affirmation that we all have a core Self that is the source of the following capital "C" qualities: Compassion, Creativity, Curiosity, Connectedness, Courage, Confidence, Clarity, and Calm (Schwartz, 2001). These Self qualities are the basis of my practice logo in the upper left hand corner of each web page. The "C' stands for all the Self qualities, and it is set against what I call the Compass of Compassion-- a symbol of how when we are Self-led we can step back, gain a clearer sense of direction, and help our inner parts navigate murky or choppy emotional waters. Additional attributes of Self are the "5 P's": Playfulness, Patience, Presence, Perspective, and Persistence. For a one page summary of the 8 C's and the 5 P's of Self, click

Self often gets obscured and hidden by the distress and conflicts produced by inner parts. Psychotherapeutic improvement occurs as the Self is able to separate from these parts and interact with them in a compassionate manner. When we are Self-led it is easier to negotiate new roles for inner critics and heal the wounds of younger parts burdened by the residue of past distressing experiences.
IFSM offers innovative ways to increase access to Self and work with inner critics as well as other parts that have a role in producing and maintaining specific symptoms. Emotion regulation skills can also be enhanced through IFS interventions.

Dr. Bonner has completed the Intensive Level 1 training program in the Internal Family Systems Model.  IFS is considered an evidence-based treatment by S.A.M.S.H.A., and is listed in their
National Registry.

Official IFSM Website:
IFSM Self-Help:
Self-Therapy Journey (self help):
Six free 90 min. teleconference recordings
Video interviews with IFS trainers/experts
IFS & Self-Acceptance-- Jay Earley, Ph.D.
"Finding your Parts"-- Bruce Hersey, LCSW-- Intro to IFS
Interview & Video with Frank Anderson, MD
Complilation of IFS resouces by
Derek Scott
IFS Reference List--
complete bibliography

"Inside Out" (2015)-- The Pixar Picture about Parts!
Compilation of Clips-- includes family dinner scene at 5:38 mark
Review by IFS founder Richard Schwartz, Ph.D.--
"Inside Out" and Parenting--
blog by therapist
Inside Out: Behind-the-Scenes Science with Dacher Keltner, PhD
Parents' Guide to Inside Out-- by Paul Ekman, Ph.D. 
Review by Dr. Bonner ("Psychology Gets Animated!"-- page 3)--

Books & Articles on IFS written for the general public and therapists:

Barbera, M. (2016) Bring Yourself to Love: How Couples Can Turn Disconnection into Intimacy, 2nd. edition, Dos Monos Press, Inc.

Earley, J. (2010) Self-Therapy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Creating Inner Wholeness Using IFS, Mill City Press, Inc. (for eBook, Kindle, Paperback, and Audio editions available
here )

Earley, J. (2012) Resolving Inner Conflict: Working Through Polarization Using Internal Family Systems Therapy. Pattern System Books (available through Amazon; publisher also has eBook/PDF version

Earley, J. (2012) Working with Anger in Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS Professional Booklet Series). Pattern System Books (available as Amazon Kindle version

Earley, J. & Weiss, B. (2013) Freedom from Your Inner Critic: A Self-Therapy approach. Sounds True.

Earley, J. (2016) Self-Therapy Volume 2: A Step-by-Step Guide for Working with Protectors. Pattern System Books.

Earley, J. (2016) Self-Therapy, Vol. 3: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using IFS for Eating Issues, Procrastination, the Inner Critic, Depression, Perfectionism, Anger, Communication, and More. Pattern System Books.

Ehrmann, L.A. (2014)  Kids, Parents, & Everyone Have Parts: A Book About Internal Family Systems for the Young and Young at Heart.  Self-published; available on CD

Ehrmann, L.A. (2014)  Everyone Has Parts: The Self-Led Parent's Guide to Understanding Your Own. Self-published; available on CD here

Herbine-Blank, T., Kerpelman, D., & Sweezy, M. (2015) Intimacy from the Inside Out: Courage and Compassion in Couple Therapy. Routledge

Holmes, T. & Holmes, L. (2011) Parts Work: An Illustrated Guide to Your Inner Life Winged Heart Press; 4th edition (if not available via Amazon, purchase through publisher
here ).

Mones. A. (2014) Transforming Troubled Children, Teens, and Their Families: An Internal Family Systems Model for Healing. Routledge

Schwartz, J. & Brennan, B. (2014) There's a Part of Me.... Oak Park IL: Trailheads Publications, The Center for Self Leadership (available only through this

Schwartz RC (2001). Introduction to the Internal Family Systems Model. Oak Park IL: Trailheads Publications, The Center for Self Leadership (available only through this link)

Schwartz RC (2008). You are the one you have been waiting for: Bringing courageous love to intimate relationships. Oak Park IL: Trailheads Publi- cations, The Center for Self Leadership (available only through this link)

Schwartz, RC (2015)  Facing our Dark Sides: Some forms of Self-compassion are Harder than Others. In Psychotherapy Networker, September/October (available through this link)

Sweezy, M. & Ziskind, E. (Eds.) (2013) Internal family systems therapy: New dimensions. Routledge

Weiss, B.J (2014) Self-Therapy Workbook: An exercise book for the IFS Process. Larkspur, CA.: Pattern System Books. (eBook available

Articles,  books, and websites on themes related to IFS:

Brooks, D. (2009) "Where the Wild Things Are", New York Times, 10/20/2009-- relates movie to concept of inner parts; download

Compassionate Mind Foundation-- website

Institute for Applied Compassion-- website

Neff, K. (2011) Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind. William Morrow. For more info, visit website

Nhat Hanh, T. (2010) Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child. Parallax Press

Noricks, J. (2011) Parts Psychology: A Trauma-Based, Self-State Therapy for Emotional Healing. New University Press

Charles Bonner, Ph.D.
PA. Lic. #PS-007719-L
5873 Forbes Ave.  Pittsburgh, PA 15217
(412) 422-9160 ext. 2  FAX: (412) 422-8180
Email Dr. Bonner

Emergencies in Allegheny County:
Resolve Crisis Network: 888-796-8226

Internal Family Systems Model

Dr. Charles Bonner - Clinical Psychologist - Private Practice
Creative Solutions for Common Problems