Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS) with Children & Parents: Innovative Interventions that Combine the Strength of IFS with the Power of Play

Most therapeutic models with set agendas do not work with children, especially when they are not ready to tell their story because of behavioral challenges...
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Leslie Petruk
6 Hours 31 Minutes
Audio and Video
May 11, 2020


Most therapeutic models with set agendas do not work with children, especially when they are not ready to tell their story because of behavioral challenges, trauma, anxiety, and depression.

Play is the natural language of children. Discover how integrating Internal Family Systems (IFS) with Play Therapy allows the child to move at their own pace. Both are evidence-based modalities that will easily get you the tools and strategies you need to transform the work you do with children and families!

In this unique integrative training, practice creative and playful approaches to successfully engage children, move at their own pace and help them overcome their challenges. You’ll be given an all-new process to follow so you can:

  • Integrate IFS and play into the therapy you’re already doing
  • Apply techniques with children so that they don’t have to tell the story out loud
  • Help kids “go inside” to discover their strengths and access their inner wisdom

If you only purchase one continuing education program this year make it this one! Give yourself the gift of joy as children begin to view their behaviors and feelings with a kinder, more self-loving lens so they can heal and transform. Buy this recording today!



  • How it’s different than traditional therapy models
  • Basic assumptions, goals of therapy
    • What are parts? Managers, firefighters and exiles
  • Limitations of the research and potential risks


Identify and Connect with the Target Part

  • Separate the client from the symptom
  • Find the real story behind the symptom
Working with the Protective Parts
  • Address the fears and concerns of the parts
  • Develop a relationship with the protectors
Heal the Wounded Part
  • Witness the pain rather than re-experiencing it
  • Release and unburden thoughts, feelings, and beliefs


Non-Directive, Child-Centered

  • Basic assumptions across both models: Child chooses the nature of play
    • Trust that the parts will emerge during play
    • Unconditional positive regard remains paramount
  • Getting started: How to help parts feel safe and welcomed
  • Presenting Issues: Trauma, attachment, behavioral challenges, anxiety, depression
  • Track the client’s parts (and yours!) throughout session
  • Work with blended parts & how to externalize parts
  • Direct access vs. in-sight
  • Developing a Self-to-part relationship
IFS-Informed Play Therapy Strategies
  • Interviewing the parts
  • Parts mapping
  • Shaping your parts
  • Parts’ drama
  • And more!


Activities, Case Studies & Videos

  • Externalizing a part clay activity
  • Sand Tray therapy video
  • Parts, exiles, and Self in the Sand Tray
  • Developing Self-to-part relationship activity

*Bring your own favorite play things – mini’s, paper, pencils, oil pastels, crayons, markers, clay squares


Improve Connection, Communication, and Cooperation

  • Weaving IFS concepts into discussions with parents
  • Help parents identify their parts and how they are activated
  • How shame and punishment create exiles
  • Help parents let go of agendas and meeting the kids where they are at
  • Successfully engage even the most disconnected parents
IFS-Informed Parenting Strategies
  • Doing the YOU turn
  • Befriending vs. managing the child’s parts
  • Parts mapping
  • The 8 C’s of Self
  • And more!


Leslie Petruk, MA, LPC-S, NCC, BCC Related seminars and products: 1

The Stone Center For Counseling & Leadership

Leslie Petruk, MA, LPC-S, NCC, BCC, is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 20 years of experience with individuals and families. Leslie is the director at The Stone Center for Counseling & Leadership in Charlotte, NC, and a clinical supervisor.

She is a certified IFS therapist and in the process of becoming an IFS assistant trainer. As a program assistant for the Center for Self Leadership (CSL), the IFS organization founded by IFS creator Richard Schwartz, PhD, Leslie has helped assist IFS workshops across the United States. She maintains a long affiliation with CSL and their passion to educate mental health professionals worldwide. Her clinical experience using IFS includes working with children, individuals, couples and families. She specializes in the application of IFS to parenting and working with children. 

Her specialized training as a play therapist and marriage and family therapist serve her well in her focus with children, couples and individuals who are dealing with grief and loss, depression, anxiety, trauma, adjustment and relational issues. Additionally, she works with special needs children and their families, children and families experiencing divorce, and children with behavioral issues in school, for which she provides parenting consultation, coaching and school observation/remediation services.  

Leslie offers consultation to therapists who are learning the IFS model and specializes in working with those who want to apply IFS in working with children and parents.  For those who are ready to take the next step in the IFS model, she also offers individual and group consultation and supervision services for IFS therapists in training.

Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Leslie Petruk is the owner of The Stone Center for Counseling & Leadership. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.

Non-financial: Leslie Petruk is a member of the American Counseling Association; the Association for Play Therapy; the North Carolina Counseling Association; and the North Carolina Association for Play Therapy.