A Template for Research, Community, and Knowledge Production: Impulses and Actions Leading to the Foundation for Self Leadership by Rob Hartz, September 2014
We traveled to Durango to help develop a long-term strategic plan. Toni and Jordan Herbine-Blank were generous in offering their house to a group or 16 “stakeholders” all passionate about seeing the IFS model used broadly and well. This was a chance to talk about both the opportunities and the challenges facing the Center for Self Leadership (CSL) for the next five years. The year was 2010.
By the second day, as CSL Director Jon Schwartz talked about our real challenges, we agreed that the lack of strong peer-reviewed research focusing on the efficacy of IFS was a real obstacle to using IFS at avariety of public institutions—schools, prisons, VA hospitals, to name a few—where millions of people in great need of therapy and support would not be treated unless and until practitioners and program managers are able to demonstrate that IFS actually makes a difference in the lives of real people across a variety of conditions and situations.
It may have been the pure Rocky Mountain air or the intelligent and insightful dialogue; whatever the cause, it became crystal clear that although there are significant challenges in advancing a research agenda, CSL has an abundance of talent with knowledge of research methods and an array of practical experience in using the model.
What was missing was a good reason to build a community of research-minded therapists and practitioners courageous enough and persistent enough to engage with objective, independent researchers to see where the data would lead. Thus, an idea was born and the idea was dependent on finding those in the community with the experience and interest to help lead this complex multi-year project.
The scene changes to a Mexican Restaurant in Cambridge, Mass; it is June of 2011. With me were Martha Sweezy, John Livingstone, and Nancy Sowell, who was telling us about the work she was doing under the direction of Dr. Nancy Shadick on rheumatoid arthritis. This might well be the first major study to explore the effects of IFS in both the psychological and physical realms. At that moment, we did not know how that research project would come out, but we were excited that the two Nancys had secured the funding and garnered support from eight experienced IFS therapists who helped run the study. As we dug into our tamales and beans, we began our work together as the “Research Steering Committee” by imagining how to start a multi-year endeavor with lots of complexity. We had to talk loudly to be heard over the mariachi music, but we each walked away with a sense that this was a project worth investing in.
By October of that year, the four of us presented our road map at the town hall meeting at the annual IFS Conference.