How I use IFS in Coaching

To get an idea of what I do with individual coaching, watch this 10 minute video.

Before I discovered IFS, I used a variety of other influences to help my clients. I was already operating outside the typical life coaching framework because rather than following the “ontological” model endorsed by the International Coaching Federation, I used a cognitive and logical approach to help my clients

  • Identify objectives
  • Design projects to achieve those objectives
  • Challenge their disempowering thoughts and beliefs to facilitate breakthroughs and insights and to shift perspective
  • Be and stay focused on their objectives using compassionate accountability
  • Identify actions and practices to help them maintain progress and growth

When I discovered IFS as a therapy client, I didn’t quite understand what was happening, but I recognized I had found something dramatically more powerful than anything I had known about before. I started reading the books and watching IFS videos and began using IFS with my coaching clients, That was late in 2016. I also created a group program called True Self Leadership.

In 2019 I signed up for training and completed IFS levels one and two trainings in the summer of 2020. While I was in the one-year Level 1 training, I began creating the Self-Led Project borrowing some of the content from the True Self Leadership program and creating over 50 exercises to use with groups. The time commitment required to complete the entire curriculum flexed from 6 months to 9 months to a year and has settle back for this next group at 9 months.

I have continued with my IFS training. I served as a Program Assistant for another Level 1 training (completed in 2021) and completed the required consultation and practice hours to become a Certified IFS Practitioner in September of 2021. I began training as an IFIO facilitator earlier in 2022 and have signed up for two more advanced trainings for Intimacy From the Inside Out (IFIO) which I will complete in February of 2023.

As I learned to facilitate coaching sessions using the IFS model, I tried to follow the IFS model in a linear fashion – from detecting and getting to know parts to facilitating unburdenings. This is what I and 32 others, mostly therapists were trained to do. But during 2022, I sensed that something was missing for my coaching clients. After feeling particularly challenged by a few of my clients, I stepped back to gain clarity about who I am as a coach, how I help people, and what the difference was  between how I supported my clients and how an IFS trained therapist supports their clients.

The result is described well in an article that I wrote and posted to my blog, Coaching or Therapy?

You may also find this article helpful, The IFS difference in Coaching 

So now, rather than spending our session time exploring and getting to know the part that is most problematic at that time, coaching sessions are focused on resistance to desired outcomes or on the possibilities that reveal themselves once past the resistance.

Although I am well trained and practiced as an IFS practitioner, I am probably not the best fit for clients who are looking primarily for IFS trained practitioners or therapists whose main focus is on unburdening (healing) the internal family system.  I may be a great fit for clients whose main interest is personal growth and development when their efforts have been hampered by persistent patterns of resistance and self-sabotage.

Here is what to expect with individual coaching. When I talk with someone about individual coaching, I want to know how they would know if coaching made a difference for them.

  • We have a conversation during which I ask what improvement or change in their lives they seek.
  • This conversation leads to the identification and measurement of up to three short-term objectives. To accomplish this, I ask, “What do you want to accomplish over the next 3 to 4 months and how will we measure the gap between what is currently so and what you wish to be so?”
  • I usually ask my new clients to compete a Life  Categories Self Evaluation. This helps identify what areas of life the client wishes to focus on first.
  • At the end of each session, I ask my client to take a few minutes to complete an A.C.T.I.O.N. session summary to help them capture any insights and remember any commitments made during the session.
  • Within 24 hours prior to each session I ask my clients to check-in with themselves and to formulate a specific coaching request using the B.R.A.V.O. check-in form.
  • When clients experience breakdowns – when they fail to take the actions they have committed to for any reason, I help them get curious about what got in their way. This is what I refer to as compassionate accountability. Often, this is when we use the IFS model. It is not surprising at first to spend the first several sessions getting to know the main players in the client’s internal family. This is wise because unless we do so, the most dominant parts who have been leading the internal family system will predictably resist any change in patterns or behavior.

I ask for a minimum commitment of four sessions and only offer single sessions to those who have already completed at least four sessions with me. The cost for four sessions or less is $250 per 60-minute session. I recommend a minimum of 24 sessions over 6 months (meeting once a week) at a cost of $4800 ($200 per session).  Some clients spread this out over a year and meet with me twice a month.

For many, The Self-Led Project is a more appealing option because:

  • For the first 6 months of the program, our focus is almost entirely on building relationships with parts
  • With 33 group sessions over 9 months, the cost is dramatically less, averaging $82 per session.
  • The Self-Led Project is not goal-driven. Many clients like this because they recognize that they need to figure out who they are before they can start digging into what they can accomplish. They are more focused on learning who they are and developing empowered internal leadership.
  • In the last 3 months of the program, after developing relationships with the most influential parts of the internal family, participants learn how to use the IFS model to make hard decisions, resolve inner conflict,  and break up dysfunctional and unworkable patterns in their lives while practicing Self-leadership.

The cost for the Self-Led Project is $2500 when paid up front ($2700  when paid over time) and takes 9 months to complete. Sessions are weekly with two weeks off every three months.