PIG: Solutions-Focused Internal Family Systems Therapy


Solutions-Focused Internal Family Systems

Team Members

Short Summary

We propose improving Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy by using protocols from Non-Violent Communication (NVC) to elicit desired, practical solutions to one’s therapy-motivating problems prior to detailed investigation of one’s self-protective strategies.

Q & A

What is the existing target protocol you are hoping to improve or enhance?

The target protocol that we are hoping to improve is the IFS unblending and unburdening protocol.

What is the core idea or insight about potential improvement you want to pursue?

The core insight motivating the potential improvement that we want to pursue is that many men are discouraged from starting or continuing psychotherapy because it often fails to focus on practical solutions to the problems impacting their mental health. Internal Family Systems is a therapy modality that is growing in popularity. However, it suffers from the common tendency to immediately divert one’s attention from motivating problems to exploring one’s related feelings and historical causes. Complementarily, NVC directly focuses on the present, and it elicits practical requests (i.e. solutions) to meet the needs revealed by one’s motivating problem.

What is your discovery methodology for investigating the current state of the target protocol?

Our discovery methodology for investigating the current state of the IFS protocol will include field observation, expert interview, and historical data analysis (i.e., recorded sessions and demonstrations).

In what form will you prototype your improvement idea?

To prototype our improvement idea we will create a reference design implementation and collect expert feedback on our drafted proposal.

How will you field-test your improvement idea?

We plan to field-test our improvement idea by running an A/B test with a test audience of ten to thirty individuals.

Who will be able to judge the quality of your output?

People who are able to judge the quality of our output include practitioners who have worked with the combination of IFS and NVC and those who have extensive experience using IFS with male clients. Some prominent IFS trained practitioners in these categories include

  • Robert Falconer
  • Steve Roof
  • Dr. Steve Spitzer
  • Glenn Williams.

How will you publish and evangelize your improvement idea?

To publish and evangelize our work, we will pursue the following avenues. First, we will publish our improved protocol and field testing results via written description on a website as well as via videos such as on YouTube. Second, we will submit an article describing our work for publication in “Parts & Self,” the online magazine published by the Foundation for Self Leadership (the advocacy institution for IFS). Third, we will investigate whether there is opportunity for inclusion in an anthology of writings on combining IFS with complementary methods. Such an anthology was published in August 2023, and an updated edition that we can contribute to may be in preparation. Finally, we will submit an application for presentation in the 2025 IFS Annual Conference. The conference submission deadline for 2024 will have passed by the time we finish this Summer of Protocols project, but we may be accepted next year and thereby gain much visibility within the IFS community.

What is the success vision for your idea?

The success vision for our idea is that individuals who are exposed to our proposed combination of IFS and NVC exhibit greater satisfaction from and motivation for their IFS efforts. Ideally, such positive results will kickstart adoption of our IFS implementation and bring increased quality of life for men and other problem-oriented individuals who are facing mental health challenges.