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Richard Dick SchwartzDr. Richard (Dick) Schwartz, founder of the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model, kicks off our new season 7. While Dick is not a graduate of the Hoffman Process, we asked him to be on the podcast because his life’s work of IFS aligns beautifully with the work of the Process.**

IFS was born in the 1980s when Dick began to work with clients in his therapy practice. Dick shares his story of how he came to see and work with the family system we each have within us. His discoveries about the inner landscape of human beings have helped thousands of people heal. You will hear Dick talk about parts and burdens. Parts are sub-personalities that, combined with the Self, make up who we are. Burdens consist of “extreme beliefs and emotions accumulated during intense experiences,” particularly in childhood. When parts are ready to release these burdens, hence the term unburdening, “they transform into their naturally valuable states.” This is akin to what happens in the Cycle of Transformation during the Hoffman Process.

While developing IFS, Dick realized that at the heart of each person is the Self. He discovered that the Self is not a part like he was used to working with. The Self is the core Self of a human being. Eventually, the Self appears as the IFS work deepens. This is when healing truly begins to take place.

Dick and Drew reference the Self, parts, the eight ‘C’s, exiles, protectors, and firefighters. Find out more about these terms in the As mentioned in this episode section below.

**While the vast majority of our guests are Process graduates, we occasionally host experts in other modalities of healing that align with the work of the Process.

Discover more about Dick Schwartz :

Dick Schwartz Richard (Dick) Schwartz began his career as a family therapist and an academic at the University of Illinois at Chicago. While there, he discovered that family therapy alone did not achieve full symptom relief, and in asking patients why, he learned that they were plagued by what they called “parts.” His patients became his teachers as they described how their parts formed networks of inner relationships that resembled the families he had been working with. Dick also found that as they focused on and, thereby, separated from their parts, they would shift into a state characterized by qualities like curiosity, calm, confidence, and compassion. He called that inner essence the Self and was amazed to find it even in severely diagnosed and traumatized patients.

From these explorations, the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model was born in the early 1980s. IFS is now evidence-based and has become a widely used form of psychotherapy, particularly with trauma. It provides a non-pathologizing, optimistic, and empowering perspective and a practical and effective set of techniques for working with individuals, couples, families, and more recently, corporations and classrooms.

Currently on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, Dick has published five books, including No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model. Dick lives with his wife Jeanne near Chicago, close to his three daughters and his growing number of grandchildren.

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As mentioned in this episode:

Family Therapy

Systems Thinking

Attachment Theory

IFS Terminology
The Self: “One other key aspect of the IFS Model also differentiates it from other models. This is the belief that, in addition to these parts, everyone is at their core a Self, containing many crucial leadership qualities such as perspective, confidence, compassion, and acceptance.” Read more
The 8 ‘C’s: “The eight Cs of self-leadership include: calmness, curiosity, clarity, compassion, confidence, creativity, courage, and connectedness.” Read more
IFS Videos


Bob Hoffman, Founder of the Hoffman Process

Kristin Neff
Listen to Drew and Kristin on the Hoffman Podcast

Brené Brown

Michael Mithoefer, MD

Parentified Child or Parentification

Myth of the Mono-Mind

Fractal Systems

Alters in Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)