October 1st, 2015

Transforming Troubled Children, Teens and Their Families

“Transforming Troubled Children, Teens and Their Families: An Internal Family Systems Model for Healing”
By Arthur G. Mones
Routledge, 2014
New York, N.Y

Book on IFS model is disappointing

Reviewed by James Luiselli
The foundation of this book is something called the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model. I did not know much about IFS so looked forward to reading the book in order to gain a better understanding.

As presented by psychologist Arthur G. Mones, IFS has deep roots within psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy, with all of the attendant intra-psychic forces, classifying symptoms “as adaptive and survival-based when viewed in multiple contexts.”

Furthermore, Mones writes that IFS “is a non-pathologizing systems and contextual approach that brings out the natural healing capacity within clients.”

|Much of the book is difficult to sort out and apply clinically. The following passage accurately reflects the tone, content, and narrative prose throughout: “IFS is a model that lifts constraints from natural healing processes of the client, akin to releasing the curative nature of the person’s autoimmune system, which starves off intrusive germs and is able to repair injuries that inevitably occur in life. In addition, there is a qualitative difference in the study of the psychological/emotional sphere of human nature and the study of isolated biological systems.”

Mones appears to dismiss evidence-based treatment and research-to-practice translation in a single paragraph among the book’s 144 pages. He is also not a fan of the DSM-5, claiming that “professionals begin to believe its independent ‘truth’ and “patients have no other recourse but to accept and resign themselves to their ‘illness.’

In my opinion, the author does not offer reasonable diagnostic alternatives and appears to shun the process of assessment-derived treatment. I add that the book does not cite or describe any research on the IFS model, which gives the impression that research is scant or does not exist.

On a more pragmatic level, Mones articulates several therapeutic activities he typically employs, including kinetic family drawings, mutual storytelling, board games, office sports, arts-crafts and music.

There are additional suggestions about the conduct of therapy sessions, consulting with other mental health professionals, working with siblings and general office practice. Two detailed case studies are provided as illustrations of IFS at work.

Because of its definitive philosophical orientation and discipline-specific perspective, this book may not appeal to a broad audience.

James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA-D, is Chief Clinical Officer, Clinical Solutions, Inc. and North East Educational and Developmental Support Center, Tewksbury, Mass..

By James K Luiselli EdD ABPP BCBA-D

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