IFS Foundations Course

for Trans, Nonbinary, and Queer Clinicians

Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a therapy approach that allows for and recognizes multiplicity of experience. It is a model that offers great potential for healing with people whose experiences do not align with dominant culture expectations, including trans, nonbinary, and queer communities. Note: Our next cohort will begin in early 2023. We are not accepting applications yet, but please check back in October 2022.

30-hour, 6 session series (3 weekends across 7 weeks)

Offering a basic introduction to IFS in an environment that centers the experiences of trans, nonbinary, and queer therapists and the communities they serve.

Learn the

Basics of the Internal Family Systems Model

Learn From

experiential exercises
small group practice sessions
By the end of this training, participants will be able to apply the IFS model with a special focus on trans, nonbinary, and queer communities.

This course is not a substitute for the IFS Institute Level 1 training and it is not offered by the IFS Institute. We hope to provide a basic foundation for using IFS with other trans, nonbinary, and queer participants who also work professionally within trans, queer, and nonbinary communities. Many participants may use this course to determine whether to pursue further training through the IFS Institute.

Session Info

Dates, Times, and Descriptions

Session 1

Introduction to IFS

Friday 4/1/22 from 9-1 am PST / 12-4 pm EST
(4 hours)

This opening session participants will begin to build a container together to foster a brave and collaborative learning environment, learn the history of the IFS model, and introduce the concept of Self-leadership.

Session 2

Basics of IFS

Saturday 4/2/22 from 9-4 PST / 12-7 pm EST
(6 hours with 1 hour lunch break)

This session will offer participants the opportunity to begin learning about the overall flow of the IFS model, how to differentiate between parts and Self, the core skill of unblending, and an introduction to the 6 F’s in working with protectors. A combination of lecture, experiential exercises, and small group practice sessions will be used.

Session 3

Deepening the 6 F’s and Working With Protectors

Friday 4/22/22 from 9-1 am PST / 12-4 pm EST
(4 hours)

This session will focus on strengthening skills in using the 6 F’s, addressing protector fears, and clarifying the nature of different parts through the use of demos and experientials.

Session 4

Healing Steps and Unburdening

Saturday 4/23/22 from 9-4 PST / 12-7 pm EST
(6 hours with 1 hour lunch break)

Participants will learn about the healing steps to unburden exiles, how to recognize legacy and culture burdens, IFS applications for queer and trans clients, and building continuity between sessions.

Session 5

Direct Access

Friday 5/20/22 -from 9-1 am PST / 12-4 pm EST
(4 hours)

This session will focus on deepening the skill of unblending and recognizing when to use direct access to work with protector parts. Both implicit and explicit direct access will be discussed.

Session 6

Polarizations and Therapist Parts in IFS

Saturday 5/21/22 from 9-4 PST / 12-7 pm EST
(6 hours with 1 hour lunch break)

This session will explore and focus on polarizations in the internal system, parts of the therapist that can be activated in the therapeutic relationship, and strategies for working with one’s own parts in reaction to clients.


The course will be co-taught by Nic Wildes, LMHC (they/them) and Sand Chang, PhD (they/them), both Certified IFS therapists. 

internal family systems and emdr therapist sand chang

Sand Chang, PhD

(they/them/their; ohlone land)

A Chinese American nonbinary psychologist and DEI consultant who works at the intersection of trans health, eating disorders, trauma recovery, and body liberation. They are a Certified IFS therapist, Body Trust provider, and EMDR therapist.

Nic Wildes, LMHC

(they/them/their; Pawtucket land)
A white queer transmasculine mental health counselor with a passion for using IFS to empower queer, trans, and nonbinary people. They are a Certified IFS therapist and IFSI approved consultant. Nic is co-director of SAYFTEE, a Boston-based group practice serving LGBTQI+ people and those who love them.

Who should take this course

This is a course that is for health and mental health providers (psychologists, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, as well as other health care providers or practitioners such as bodyworkers) who have intermediate to advanced knowledge of and experience with topics related to gender and sexuality. Prior knowledge of IFS is not required.

Continuing Education Units

We are able to offer 30 CE units
(for psychologists, social workers, licensed counselors, MFTs).

Those interested in CEs will be charged an additional $30 processing fee.

The Affirmative Couch, LLC is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Affirmative Couch, LLC maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

We recommend that you check with your state board as to whether APA sponsored CEs will count for your license.

Continuing Education Units

We are currently working to get approval from an APA-approved CE provider. We are hoping to provide 24 hours of CE credits. However, please keep in mind that this is not confirmed. We encourage you to apply if you are interested and we will provide CE updates.


$1500 for 30 course hours

(plus additional $30 if requesting CE credits/certificates)

Once you are offered a spot, we will ask you to confirm that you are still interested before sending you an invoice (for credit card payment). Your payment will secure your spot. We can hold your spot for 7 days before having to offer it to another interested participant (unless otherwise discussed with the instructors). We are also able to negotiate a payment plan if needed. Scholarships are available for a limited number of participants who would not be able to attend without financial assistance. We are not offering specific discounts for pre-licensed people at this time. Please contact us to inquire about scholarship options. We will not be able to offer refunds after 03/18/2022. 

Application Process

Before you apply, please make sure that you are available to attend at the following times:

  • Friday 4/1/22 from 9-1 am PST / 12-4 pm EST (4 hours)
  • Saturday 4/2/22 from 9-4 PST / 12-7 pm EST (6 hours with 1 hour lunch break) 
  • Friday 4/22/22 from 9-1 am PST / 12-4 pm EST (4 hours)
  • Saturday 4/23/22 from 9-4 PST / 12-7 pm EST (6 hours with 1 hour lunch break) 
  • Friday 5/20/22 from 9-1 am PST / 12-4 pm EST (4 hours)
  • Saturday 5/21/22 from 9-4 PST / 12-7 pm EST (6 hours with 1 hour lunch break)

Because of the experiential nature of this course, it is strongly encouraged that you be in attendance for all hours of the course. If you anticipate needing to miss more than 3 hours of the course, we ask that you let us know in advance given how it will impact the learning experience. If you are requesting CE credits, you will have to attend all hours of each session of training to receive CE credits for that session.

Please keep in mind that this is a very small pilot program and that spaces are limited (15 participants). We are also committed to creating a space that is diverse across race and gender, so we are prioritizing BIPOC and/or trans applicants. If you do not participate in this training, we will keep you in mind for the next cycle of training that we do.

References & Resources

American Psychological Association. (2015). Guidelines for psychological practice with transgender and gender nonconforming people. American Psychologist, 70(9), 832-864.

Anderson, F. G., Sweezy, M., & Schwartz, R. (2017). Internal family systems skills training manual: trauma-informed treatment for anxiety, depression, PTSD & substance abuse. PESI Publishing & Media.

binaohan, b. (2014). Decolonizing trans/gender 101. biyuti publishing.

Chang, S. C., & Singh, A. A. (2018). A clinician’s guide to gender-affirming care: Working with transgender and gender nonconforming clients. New Harbinger Publications.

Gratton, F. V. (2019). Supporting transgender autistic youth and adults: A guide for professionals and families. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Schwartz, R. C. (2021). No Bad Parts: Healing Trauma and Restoring Wholeness with the Internal Family Systems Model. Sounds True.

Schwartz, R. C., & Sweezy, M. (2019). Internal family systems therapy. Guilford Publications.

Singh, A. A. (2018). The queer and transgender resilience workbook: Skills for navigating sexual orientation and gender expression. New Harbinger Publications.

Sweezy, M., & Ziskind, E. L. (Eds.). (2013). Internal family systems therapy: New dimensions. Routledge.

Sweezy, M., & Ziskind, E. L. (Eds.). (2016). Innovations and elaborations in internal family systems therapy. Taylor & Francis.

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