IFS Foundations Course for Trans, Nonbinary, and Queer Clinicians

online course with Sand Chang, PhD and Nic Wildes, LMHC

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. We are now accepting applications for Cohort 3, which starts in January 2023. The deadline for applications is Sunday, November 27, 2022.

36-hour, 9 session series (3 weekends across 3 months) – all online via Zoom

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
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 1/27/23
9A-1P PST / 12-4p 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 1/28/23
9A-1P PST / 12-4P EST

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

Getting Started: Applying The 6 F’s​

SUNDAY 1/29/23
9A-1P PST / 12-4P EST

This session will focus on learning each of the 6 F’s in depth and practicing how to apply this in session with clients.

Session 4

Getting to Know Parts and Working With Protectors

FRIDAY 2/24/23
9A-1P PST / 12-4P EST

This session is focused on differentiating the different parts: protectors (managers and firefighters) and exiles. We will then focus on addressing protector fears, and clarifying the nature of different parts through the use of demos and experientials.

Session 5

Healing Steps and Unburdening Part 1

saturDAY 2/25/23
9A-1P PST / 12-4P EST

Participants will learn about the healing steps to unburden exiles.

Session 6

Healing Steps and Unburdening Part 2

sunday 2/26/23
9A-1P PST / 12-4P EST

Participants will continue to learn about the healing steps, how to manage the flow of the session within the IFS model, and building continuity between sessions..

Session 7

Burdens and Cultural Contexts

FRIDAY 3/24/23
9A-1P PST / 12-4P EST

This session will focus on reviewing the application of the flow of the model, how to recognize legacy and cultural burdens, and IFS applications for queer and trans clients.

Session 8

Intro to Polarizations and Direct Access

SATURDAY 3/25/23
9A-1P / 12-4P EST

This session will introduce polarizations, basic strategies for how to work with them, and the technique of direct access.

Session 9

Therapist Parts in IFS and Integration

SUNDAY 3/26/23
9A-1P / 12-4P EST

This session will explore and focus on 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, experienced Program Assistants, and IFSI-Approved Consultants. 

internal family systems and emdr therapist sand chang

Sand Chang, PhD

(they/them/their; Ohlone and Kumeyaay land)

Sand is 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. They are also in Advanced Somatic Experiencing training.

Nic Wildes, LMHC

(they/them/their; Pocumtuc and Nipmuc land)

Nic is 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 36 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.


$1800 for 36 course hours

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

The deadline for applying for the 3rd cohort is Sunday November 27, 2022. 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. If you are unable to attend the training, we can offer a full refund if canceled by December 23, 2022. We can offer a 50% refund between December 24, 2022 to January 6, 2023. There will be no refunds after January 6, 2023.

Application Process

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

  • 1/27/23 – Fri. 4 hours (9-1 PST / 12-4 EST)
  • 1/28/23 – Sat. 4 hours (9-1 PST / 12-4 EST)
  • 1/29/23 – Sun. 4 hours (9-1 PST / 12-4 EST)
  • 2/24/23 – Fri. 4 hours (9-1 PST / 12-4 EST)
  • 2/25/23 – Sat. 4 hours (9-1 PST / 12-4 EST)
  • 2/26/23 – Sun. 4 hours (9-1 PST / 12-4 EST)
  • 3/24/23 – Fri. 4 hours (9-1 PST / 12-4 EST)
  • 3/25/23 – Sat. 4 hours (9-1 PST / 12-4 EST)
  • 3/26/23 – Sun. 4 hours (9-1 PST / 12-4 EST)


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 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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