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Richard Schwartz, PhD
Creator of Internal Family Systems therapy
Very often, people who have experienced trauma hold the belief that they have been so damaged that they will never heal and that their very essence is tarnished. With Internal Family Systems therapy, we are able to experience our core essence as untouched by trauma and realize that we don’t have to meditate for years to find liberation from suffering. This session explores how Internal Family Systems therapy and working with our “parts” can support trauma recovery by helping us feel empowered and released from shame.
Dr. Richard Schwartz began his career as a family therapist and an academic at the University of Illinois at Chicago. There, he discovered that family therapy alone did not achieve full symptom relief, and in asking patients why, he learned that they were plagued by what they called “parts.” These patients became his teachers as they described how their parts formed networks of inner relationships that resembled the families he had been working with. He also found that as they focused on and thereby separated from their parts, they would shift into a state characterized by qualities such as curiosity, calm, confidence, and compassion. He called that inner essence the “Self” and was amazed to find it even in severely diagnosed and traumatized patients. From these explorations, the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model was born in the early 1980s. IFS is now evidence-based, and has become a widely used form of psychotherapy, particularly with trauma. It provides a nonpathologizing, optimistic, and empowering perspective and a practical and effective set of techniques for working with individuals, couples, families, and, more recently, corporations and classrooms. In 2013, Dr. Schwartz left the Chicago area and now lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, where he is on the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
Susan Stiffelman, MFT
Author of Parenting Without Power Struggles
Parenting can be a path of profound growth and transformation. When we raise children, we may find ourselves behaving in ways that feel out of sync with our conscious parenting intentions and values. By exploring the impact of trauma on our childhood, feelings of intense frustration, rage, overwhelm, or withdrawal can become catalysts for deep healing, allowing us to move toward greater responsiveness to and attunement with our children.
Susan Stiffelman is a marriage and family therapist, a credentialed teacher, and a licensed psychotherapist. She is the author of Parenting Without Power Struggles and Parenting with Presence (An Eckhart Tolle Edition). For over 40 years, Stiffelman has worked with families to create greater harmony and deeper connection between parents and children. She facilitates a Parenting Without Power Struggles membership program, a wide array of classes and events on topics ranging from chores and homework to sensitive children and screen time. She also cohosts the Co-Parenting with a Narcissist monthly support group. For many years, Stiffelman was the weekly advice columnist for AOL, HuffPost, and grandparents.com, and she continues to reach parents through her online programs, newsletter, virtual events, and Parenting Without Power Struggles podcast.
Director of the Family Constellation Institute
The unresolved traumas of parents and grandparents can surface in the unexplained symptoms of children and grandchildren. By tending to this trauma, we have the potential to break cycles of inherited family trauma for ourselves and for future generations. In this session, Mark Wolynn shares ways we can decode our own personal language of trauma—what he calls the Core Language Approach®—and presents tools to help us break the cycle of generational suffering.
Mark Wolynn is the director of the Family Constellation Institute in San Francisco and a leading expert in the field of inherited family trauma. A sought-after lecturer, he teaches at hospitals, clinics, conferences, universities, and teaching centers around the world, including the University of Pittsburgh, the UPMC Western Psychiatric Institute, Kripalu, Omega Institute, the New York Open Center, 1440 Multiversity, John F. Kennedy University, and the California Institute of Integral Studies. Wolynn specializes in working with depression, anxiety, obsessive thoughts, fears, panic disorders, self-injury, chronic pain, and persistent symptoms and conditions. His book It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle is the winner of the 2016 Nautilus Book Award in psychology. His articles have appeared in Psychology Today, mindbodygreen, mariashriver.com, Elephant Journal, and Psych Central, and his poetry has been published in The New Yorker. Learn more at markwolynn.com.
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