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INTERNAL FAMILY SYSTEMS (IFS) FOR INDIVIDUAL CLIENT WORK - Skills to support individual clients increase affect tolerance and regulation

Event Details
Date: 1 May 2020
Venue: Melbourne, Vic
CPD hrs: 7

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Organiser: The Professional Development People

Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy is one of the fastest-growing approaches to psychotherapy. It has developed over the past twenty years into a way of understanding and treating human problems that is empowering, effective, and non-pathologising with an understanding that symptoms are actually the coping mechanism of Parts (sub-personalities/ego-states) trying to protect us from pain. IFS is a powerful model of therapy that enhances mindful awareness and self compassion through getting to know our Parts in a methodical yet intimate way. The IFS Model represents a synthesis of two already existing paradigms: systems thinking and multiplicity of the mind. A key aspect of the IFS Model is the belief that, in addition to working with Parts, everyone has at their core a Self-Energy containing many crucial leadership qualities such as perspective, confidence, compassion, and acceptance. In this inner system, some Parts take on protective roles in response to relational injury in order to protect a vulnerable or injured Part (Exiles). Protective proactive Parts (Managers) focus on learning, functioning, and being prepared preventing Exiles from being triggered. Manager behaviours can include inner critics, controlling self/others/the environment, perfectionism, risk avoidance, caretaking, worrying, striving, pleasing, denial, displacement, projecting and intellectualising. The reactive protective Parts (Firefighters) get activated after an exile has been triggered. They try to distract the client from pain. Examples of Firefighter behaviour include dissociation, fantasising, somatising, anger/rage, addictions, eating disorders, panic, obsessions, compulsions, hoarding, NSSI and suicidality. IFS advances treatment by:

  • Working with ambivalence and polarisations.
  • Recognising how to work with ‘resistance’ productively.
  • Regulating affect in a simple and effective way so clients are not overwhelmed during sessions.
  • Supporting the development of mindful self awareness and self-compassion.
  • Encouraging clients to attend to Parts between session improving Self-leadership and self-efficacy.

Learning objectives

  • Understand overall principles and concepts underpinning IFS as a therapeutic modality.
  • Learn to differentiate traditional therapeutic listening with the IFS focus on listening for Parts.
  • Recognise the roles Parts play in presenting issues from a non-pathologising perspective.
  • Access and explore protector Parts via the client’s story, presenting issue &/or body awareness.
  • Develop IFS skills to help clients increase affect tolerance and regulation.
  • Explore integrating IFS into current practice.

Presenter details

Leona Dawson Leona Dawson is a counsellor, psychotherapist, hypnotherapist and supervisor who works in private practice. She has 3 decades working in adult education and group facilitation in a range of contexts as well as becoming a Focusing Trainer before discovering Internal Family Systems eight years ago. IFS has enabled Leona to work with curiosity and compassion, moment by moment, with her clients as they come back into relationship with themselves. She has found that the IFS way of working is energising for therapists. Leona has completed the three levels of training offered by the Centre for Self-Leadership in the United States and has supported multiple international trainings. She offers IFS-oriented supervision and runs a MHPN peer group for IFS professionals. Leona has a Masters of Arts and a Master of Counselling & Applied Psychotherapy as well as Diplomas in Clinical Hypnotherapy and Transpersonal Art Therapy. She has also studied at the Milton H. Erickson Foundation and The Focusing Institute (New York). Co-facilitator, Jen Nield is a family therapist working both in the community sector and in private practice. She is an experienced group facilitator and has written multiple group programs that are now being used widely throughout Victoria. Jen has worked extensively in the family violence sector providing individual, couple and family therapy to both people who have used violence and those who have been violated. Jen is now working in the Alcohol and Other Drug sector and providing IFS training to AOD workers. Jen has a history of working with adolescents both in psychiatric inpatient settings and in the broader community sector. Prior to becoming a therapist Jen worked in community theatre and won numerous awards for her work with young people who had experienced multiple adverse childhood experiences.

Location and date

Mantra on Russell
222 Russell Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

1 May 2020

9:15am - 4:30pm


Standard fee $298

This event is fully catered and all resources are provided.

Students and new graduates may apply to attend at a discount apply here.


Register online by clicking here

Ph: 1300 887 622 OR Inquire about this as inhouse training, wherever you are - we come to you.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers