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Online Course

The Art of Negotiation in IFS Sessions - Challenging Protectors and Workable Agreements

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Richard Schwartz, PhD |  Chris Burris
13 Hours 39 Minutes
Jan 01, 2022
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Online Course


Module 1:  What is Self-Led Negotiation?  If Self has no agenda, then how is this possible?  In this module, we will explore the natural motivation toward health, harmony, and healing that resides in Self-energy as well as in all the internal parts.  There are both receptive and active forms of Self-energy in both the client and the facilitator that can meet and assist with the internal unfolding process toward greater internal collaboration and healing of trauma.  

Module 2:  How do we determine “Motivation” from “Agenda” in the Self of the Facilitator?  Many of our Facilitator or Therapist Parts attended advanced professional training programs or graduate school to learn to help others. In this process, the “Helper Parts” may have also learned to lead the system. The goal in the IFS Model is for the facilitator to be Self-Led while providing IFS therapy. We have to distinguish between our “Helper Parts” and our Self-energy. By being Self-led, the facilitator will experience greater ease and foster increased attunement and potential for healing in the therapeutic process. In this module, we will explore how to begin to identify the “Helper Parts” from the Self of the Facilitator. 

Module 3:  What are “workable agreements”, why are they important, and how do we create them?  Creating a workable agreement is essential to all helping professions. Often, when the therapeutic process is stuck, it is because this agreement is not explicit and mutually agreed upon or it needs to be updated. The importance of understanding which Part we are making an agreement with in the client’s system and the role this agreement plays when the therapeutic process becomes stalled or stuck is crucial. There are two types of workable agreements - the overarching therapeutic agreement and the in-session agreement. In this module, we will discuss the dynamics of creating both types of workable agreements from a place of Self-leadership. 

Module 4:  Each of the previous three modules have established a foundation for working with Challenging Protectors.  In this module, we will build upon what we have already discussed and elaborate on the most common dynamics associated with working successfully with Challenging Protectors. These dynamics include parts of the facilitator, lack of an explicit workable agreement, external constraints, involuntary protectors, self-reliant systems and parts, critics, and burdens of shame.  


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Credit details will be available at the conclusion of the course.


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.

Chris Burris's Profile

Chris Burris Related seminars and products

Chris Burris, LPC, LMFT, is a Senior Lead Trainer for the Center for Self Leadership. He has been an IFS Therapist since 1999 and is trained as a Marriage and Family Therapist. He utilizes mind/body approaches of therapy in alleviating traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety disorders. He has worked extensively with couples, families, teenagers, and children and is an AAMFT Approved Supervisor. Since 1990, he has been very active with men groups and rites of passage programs. As the former Director of Counseling at The North Carolina School of the Arts, Chris has considerable experience with performance enhancement for Artists, Actors, Filmmakers, Musicians, Writers, and Dancers. A current passion is to help individuals explore The Second Half of Life opportunities, defining purpose and making sacred choices for improving the world. He is currently in Private Practice in Asheville, North Carolina.


  1. Model how to work with clinician’s own parts.
  2. Demonstrate meditation and mindfulness as it relates to working with client in session.
  3. Articulate the IFS belief that all parts want something positive for the client and how the parts will use a variety of strategies to gain influence within the internal system.
  4. Complete a review of several core principles of IFS theory.
  5. Examine receptive and active forms of Self-energy in both the client and the facilitators.
  6. Analyze two IFS client sessions for purposes of therapist education.
  7. Differentiate parts and roles from a perspective of the multiplicity of the mind theory of IFS.
  8. Integrate IFS skills that work with helper parts into practice with therapy clients.
  9. Demonstrate meditation and mindfulness as it relates to working with client in session.
  10. Identify, specify and clarify the protective parts of clients with trauma histories to help with assessment and treatment planning.
  11. Identify and distinguish two types of workable agreements and the role they play in the therapeutic process.
  12. Implement techniques for creating both types of agreements within the therapeutic relationship.
  13. Determine which therapist parts and IFS interventions that can be used to effectively change and transform behavior.
  14. Create effective methods to help clients with external constraints to the progress with the therapeutic process.
  15. Apply IFS treatment strategies to identify involuntary protective parts of the clients system.
  16. Analyze client case consultation through role play for purposes of therapeutic education.



Overall:      5

Total Reviews: 2

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