Richard Schwartz 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.
Grounded in systems thinking, Dr. Schwartz developed Internal Family Systems SM in response to clients’ descriptions of various parts within themselves. He focused on the relationships among these parts and noticed that there were systemic patterns to the way they were organized across clients. He also found that when the clients’ parts felt safe and were allowed to relax, the clients would experience spontaneously the qualities of confidence, openness, and compassion that Dr. Schwartz came to call the Self. He found that when in that state of Self, clients would know how to heal their parts.
This approach to psychotherapy suggested alternative ways of understanding psychic functioning and healing, and lent itself to innovative techniques for relieving clients’ suffering and symptoms. IFS is a nonpathologizing, hopeful framework within which to practice psychotherapy.
In 2000, Richard Schwartz founded the Center for Self Leadership in Oak Park, Illinois. CSL offers three levels of training in IFS, workshops for professionals and for the general public, an annual national conference, publications, and DVDs of Dr. Schwartz’s work through its web site at www.selfleadership.org. IFS trainings and workshops are also being held in several European countries.
A featured speaker for national professional organizations, Dr. Schwartz serves on editorial boards of four professional journals. He has published five books and over fifty articles about IFS. His books include: 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.