Internal Family Systems Therapy Online

IFS Therapy in London

INTERNAL FAMILY SYSTEMS is an Evidence-based Practice

November 2015


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We are pleased to share with the community of IFS therapists and practitioners the exciting news that the Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy is now posted on NREPP as an evidence-based practice.

NREPP is the National Registry for Evidence-based Programs and Practices, a national repository that is maintained by the U.S. government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Interventions listed in NREPP, now including IFS, have been subject to independent, rigorous scrutiny and are deemed to show significant impact on individual outcomes relating to mental health.

BASIS FOR INCLUSION. A comprehensive application requesting the inclusion of IFS on NREPP was submitted in April 2014. It was based on a proof-of-concept study by Nancy Shadick, MD, MPH; Nancy Sowell, MSW, LICSW; and a number of researchers and IFS therapists. The longitudinal randomized clinical study, which involved 70- some patients in an IFS treatment during 36 weeks with periodic follow-ups including 12 months post- intervention, was published in August 2013 in the peer-reviewed Journal of Rheumatology. Find more information about the early stages of the study below.

SAMHSA’s independent scientific review of the study and NREPP application affirmed the following findings, which are now listed, as of November 23, 2015, on the federal NREPP website:

As a clinical treatment, IFS has been rated effective for improving general functioning and well-being. In addition, it has been rated promising for each of: improving phobia, panic, and generalized anxiety disorders and symptoms; physical health conditions and symptoms; personal resilience/self-concept; and depression and depressive symptoms.

These scientific findings and the ensuing listing of IFS on NREPP affirm the vast potential of IFS Therapy for advancing emotional healing and mental well-being. In particular, they indicate promising effects on mind (depression, anxiety), body (physical health conditions), and spirit (personal resilience and self-concept). Such outcomes deepen our resolve to catalyze additional research studies, both in clinical settings and in applications beyond psychotherapy, as further examination of the efficacy of IFS will help expand its empirical evidence and position us well for an updated NREPP posting, with more outcomes, five years from now.

We see in the NREPP news an indirect acknowledgment of the work of Richard Schwartz, PhD, who developed the modality 30-some years ago, and the longstanding efforts of this growing community of IFS trainers, practitioners, psychotherapy clients, and individuals for whom the model has offered a new way of being in the world. We thank John Livingstone, MD, FRSH; Rob Hartz, Nancy Sowell, MSW, LICSW; and Martha Sweezy, PhD, LICSW; who were there in the beginning of the research effort and started the conversation. We thank all of you who continue to engage in promoting the model far and wide in our world, a world that badly needs healing and Self leadership!

Please share this message with you colleagues and clients. With your support and involvement, we will together broaden the impact of IFS as a treatment modality and as a thought paradigm accessible to all.

For questions regarding the NREPP IFS posting, please contact Jon Schwartz, The Center for Self Leadership’s Executive Director ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Jenn Matheson, PhD, LMFT, The Foundation for Self Leadership’s Senior Coordinator for Research (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


IFS Shown to Reduce Pain and Depression, and Improve Physical Function for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients
Results of Randomized Controlled Study Published in the Journal of Rheumatology
August 15, 2013 – The results from a randomized controlled study, published recently in the Journal of Rheumatology, show that an IFS-based intervention had positive effects on patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), reducing pain and depressive symptoms, while improving physical function and self-compassion. The study was the first randomized control trial of its kind conducted to assess the efficacy of IFS on patient outcomes.

Dr. Nancy Shadick, from the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital at Harvard Medical School, served as Principal Investigator for the study, which assessed the impact of an IFS-based psychotherapeutic intervention on disease activity and psychological status in a trial of 79 RA patients. The study concluded that IFS is feasible and acceptable for patients with RA and would effectively complement medical management of the disease, and suggested that future efficacy trials are warranted.

“For thirty years, mental health professionals have reported significant improvements in the psychological health of clients treated with IFS;” said Dr. Richard Schwartz, founder of the IFS psychotherapy model. “Now, thanks to Dr. Shadick and her team, we have an important outcome study that lays the foundation for establishing scientific evidence confirming this connection. I am gratified that the results of this first study are so encouraging and look forward to future research.”

The full study is available at: .