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Online Course

Internal Family Systems (IFS) & The Voices of Addiction

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Cece Sykes, LCSW, ACSW |  Mary Kruger, MS, LMFT |  Richard Schwartz, PhD
15 Hours 24 Minutes
Jan 01, 2018
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Media Type:
Online Course



     No CEU Credits Available For This Program




Redefining “Addiction” - How will IFS Help?

To begin we present a framework for understanding not just substance addiction, but disordered eating, self-harm, and many other impulsive and compulsive behaviors.  We call this Addictive Process.  This framework highlights the similarities among many common presenting problems and allows you to confidently approach treatment with these kinds of entrenched inner dynamics.


Introducing Mary & Cece

Defining the Addictive Process

6 Key advantages of IFS for dealing compassionately and effectively with addictive process, including how IFS can prevent relapse

Demos of two hypothetical first sessions, showing how to quickly gain the trust of highly polarized, addictive systems and begin treatment on the right foot


Treating a System not a Symptom

We discuss the common pattern of firefighters, managers, and exiles that accompanies the many varieties of addictive process, and how best to enter into this delicate balance to create positive change.


Parts and Roles in Addictive Process

Identifying the Inner System

Importance of Tracking the Process

Self-Spectrum: Building a Self to Parts relationship


Befriending Addictive Parts

We get into the nitty-gritty of working with the dangerous distractor parts that are responsible for addictive behaviors.  We discuss the common responses of therapists’ parts to these firefighters, the pitfalls they can drag us into, and how to expertly avoid those pitfalls to befriend and heal these often exhausted protectors.


Common Pitfalls with Extreme Protectors

Identifying Addictive Manager-Firefighter polarizations

Working with Entrenched Systems

Therapists’ Parts and the Addictive System


IFS and Addiction in Action


This module applies the ideas presented in the previous three months to working with even the most challenging addictive systems.  We delve into the process of building compassion for all sides of the protective system in addictive process, as well as for the exiles underneath.  We wrap up with two demos showing how to apply what we’ve taught in session.


How to work with clients you feel like you can’t do IFS with

How not to collude with Managers

Demonstration of IFS Assessment

Demo of working with Polarizations and Disregulation


** CEU Credits are not available for this program **

Learning Objectives

  1. Compare various traditional definitions of addiction and establish an IFS conceptualization of the addictive process that encompasses their core ideas.
  2. Describe the 3rd Order Change and evaluate the ways in which expanding the range of factors considered in IFS treatment can improve the overall understanding of the addictive process.
  3. Determine the differences between traditional treatments for addiction and psychotherapy-based treatments, and consider the ways in which IFS can synthesize each approach.
  4. Demonstrate clinical applications of IFS in order to evaluate various problems that may arise, and facilitate discussion about potential solutions.
  5. Establish essential basic assumptions in the IFS framework and discuss the implications for a paradigm shift in addiction treatments.
  6. Explain the 3 general categories of parts in the IFS model, including Managers, Firefighters, and Exiles, and evaluate their primary roles in perpetuating a cycle of polarization. 
  7. Organize the various parts of the process so as to demonstrate the extent to which polarization fosters addiction, and explore methods of identifying the system.
  8. Discuss the self-part relationship and consider the value of the therapist engaging in separation from personal biases in order to provide an objective and welcoming atmosphere for the client.
  9. Assess common setbacks in IFS treatment and outline the ways in which a self-part relationship can reduce resistance among clients.
  10. Identify common manager-firefighter polarizations and compare the problems that they pose in order to foster preparedness and experience in treating the addictive process.
  11. Investigate extreme cases of entrenched systems and discuss methods for working with clients who are unable to separate from their parts in order to demonstrate the flexibility of IFS treatment.
  12. Support the value of the therapist’s separation of parts though communicating the various ways in which a good presence of self creates trust and acceptance in the client.
  13. Describe how to interview Managers and Firefighters from the self in order to support clients’ ability to befriend their parts and gain a better understanding of the addictive process.
  14. Assess how to lend the self to a blended system in order to begin the process of separation for clients with high resistance.
  15. Demonstrate the ways in which the separation of parts can reveal Exiles, and discuss the importance of unburdening Exiles to complete the healing process and prevent future relapse.
  16.  Summarize the key concepts of IFS addiction treatment and consider additional concerns and resources for improving the model.



Cece Sykes, LCSW, ACSW Related seminars and products

Cece Sykes is an IFS Senior Trainer and consultant with over thirty years of clinical experience with individuals, couples and families. She specializes in recovery from trauma and addictive process and her chapter “An IFS Lens on Addiction: Compassion for Extreme Parts” appears in Innovations and Elaborations in IFS (Routledge, 2016). Cece lectures and consults across the US and internationally and is widely recognized for her warmth, clarity and humor. She lives and works in the city of Chicago.

Mary Kruger, MS, LMFT Related seminars and products

Mary Kruger is an AAMFT supervisor and an IFS Lead Trainer. She is founder of Rimmon Pond Counseling, LLC; an IFS based group practice located in the New Haven, Ct. area. She also offers private therapy, consultations and workshops nationally and internationally. Mary developed the IFS Level 2 Training for Addictions and Eating Disorders several years ago. Mary has been working in the field of addictions, eating disorders and trauma, with individuals, couples, families and groups, for over twenty- five years. She has a passion for engaging with people; and shares her experiences in fun and creative ways

Richard Schwartz, PhD's Profile

Richard Schwartz, PhD Related seminars and products

IFS Institute

Richard Schwartz began his career as a systemic family therapist and an academic and he is now on the Faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Meadows treatment center in Arizona. Grounded in systems thinking, Dr. Schwartz developed the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model in response to clients’ descriptions of various parts within themselves. In 2000, he founded the Center for Self Leadership (now IFS Institute -, which offers three levels of trainings and workshops in IFS for professionals and the general public, both in this country and abroad. A featured speaker for national professional organizations, Dr. Schwartz has published many books and over fifty articles about IFS.

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Dr. Richard Schwartz is the Founder and President of the IFS Institute (formerly the Center for Self Leadership). He maintains a private practice and has employment relationships with Harvard Medical School and Northwestern University. Dr. Schwartz is a published author and receives royalties. He receives a speaking honorarium and recording royalties from PESI, Inc. He has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Dr. Richard Schwartz is a member of the American Family Therapy Academy and the American Association for Marital and Family Therapy.



Overall:      4.5

Total Reviews: 29

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