Richard SchwartzFounder, Center for Self Leadership
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. In 2014 he moved
from the Chicago area to Boston and now is 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 Internal Family Systems (IFS) 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.
IFS is now evidence-based and has become a widely-used form of psychotherapy,
particularly with trauma. It provides a non-pathologizing, optimistic, and empowering
perspective and a practical and effective set of techniques. 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 non-pathologizing, hopeful framework within which to practice
psychotherapy. IFS has also moved beyond psychotherapy and is being used in
innovative ways in the fields of mediation, conflict-resolution, education, spirituality,
executive and health coaching, and medicine.
A featured speaker for national professional organizations, Dr. Schwartz has published
many 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.
There is also vast IFS literature written by others. A bibliography and information about
trainings and other resources can be found on the website www.selfleadership.org.
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 now
held around the world.