8 Cs and 5 Ps of the Core Self: Internal Family Systems Therapy

What are the 8 C’s and 5 P’s of Self Leadership According to IFS Therapy?

In IFS therapy we talk about the 8 Cs and 5 Ps of the Core Self.

These descriptive words represent the qualities of the Core Self and are also known as the 8 C’s of Self Leadership (and conversely, the 5 P’s of Self-Leadership).

Since Internal Family Systems therapy emphasizes on the central role of our innate part, the Core Self, these qualities illustrate why it’s important to gain the perspective of the Self, rather than a Part. Internal Family Systems depicts Parts as subpersonalities that gravitate around the Core Self, but are not who we really are.

When we are lead by the Self, for example via the so-called Parts work, we are calm and content and have better perspecitve. So according to the founder of Internal Family Systems therapy, Dick Schwartz, these 8 C’s and 5 P’s are the characteristics people find when they make a deeper dive in their psyche.

Want to download the 8 Cs and 5 Ps artwork?

internal family systems therapy 8 Cs 5 Ps of Core Self IFS therapy worksheet

Also available in gradient purple:

8 Cs and 5 Ps of the Core Self Infographic

8 Cs of internal family systems therapy poster printable, and also the 5 Ps, of Self-Leadership. Note that these 8 C’s of Self-leadership posters the available on Etsy with high quality resolution

What are the 8 Cs of the Self?

The 8 C’s of the Core Self are:
  • Calmness
  • Curiosity
  • Clarity
  • Compassion
  • Confidence
  • Courage
  • Creativity
  • Connectedness

What are the 5 Ps of the Self?

  • Patience
  • Perspective
  • Presence
  • Playfulness
  • Persistence

The Eight Cs • IFS Therapy

What are the 8 Cs of Internal Family Systems Therapy About


The 8 Cs in Internal Family Systems therapy were first described by Dick Schwartz during the development of his distinct approach to talk therapy.

Parts Work in IFS therapy

As he started talking with Parts, the so-called parts work, he realized patients inevitably reached a point where they claimed he was talking to their real Self. Moreover, patients reported their core Self having the same qualities such as compassion, calmness, clarity, curiosity, confidence, connectedness, creativity and courage.

Principles of IFS Therapy That Set it Apart

In Internal Family Systems therapy the goal of the therapist is to talk with the different subpersonalities and understand their position and motives. This is done via an unique approach invlolving compassion and assuming there’s self-guidance.

An important part of that approach revolves around being in so called Self-Leadership, both on the therapist’s and patient’s side. This means that therapists aim to be asking questions from the perspective of the Core Self, which is non-judgmental and generally understanding – calm and compassionate. Furthermore, the patient too aims to be reaching the perspective of the Self.


The Five Ps • IFS Therapy

About the 5 Ps of the Self in IFS Therapy

In addition to the 8 C’s, later on the 5 P’s were developed (IFS therapy, as all therapists love, is big on abbreviations, charts, schemes and infographics).

The 5 Ps of the self are essentially another set of Qualities of the Self: patience, perspective, presence, playfulness and persistence. Following years of practice, Dick Schwartz’s talk therapy method has combined the qualities we experience in an easy to remember system of Cs and Ps.

Trauma Therapy and Working with the Qualities of Self

In IFS trauma therapy is conducted with a lot more compassion than other approaches. The goal is to persuade the Parts to understand that the Self is capable of parenting the whole. As I have noted, in Internal Family Systems the therapist engages in a type of talk therapy that aims separation from different subpersonalities within the psyche. Often, during an IFS therapy session we work on feelings we experience from our past trauma.

At first, we’re feeling the emotions and perspective of our other parts – mostly our Managers, but also Firefighters and Exiles. However, once we work with an IFS therapist, we’re able to reach a core part of us that has a detached, observant approach to emotionally charging events.

Then, the so-called Core Self would have an compassionate, calm view on traumatic events.


Everyone Has a Core Self

Working with trauma involves reparenting our Inner Child, to use other therapies’ language, and taking responsibility for ourselves.

According to Internal Family Systems therapy, each one of us has a Core Self that is capable of managing our Parts. Thus, in the IFS therapy system we’re assured there’s a core part of us that can guide us through resolving trauma.

A key difference in Internal Family Systems is that it is stated that the Self is not created through interaction with others, but is rather an independent entity. IFS states that the Self is unique to each of us and isn’t developed by parents and environment.


Trauma Therapy With Internal Family Systems

Richard C. Schwartz, the founder of Internal Family Systems, has been a long-standing critic of trauma therapy that emphasize on force. His approach is one of compassion and conversation, rather than blaming and condemning. Curiously, he’s a critic of some of the AA practices related to self-restriction and remorse, but that’s a topic for another story altogether.

In this vein, Schwartz recommends conversing with the Protector parts with the therapist, as well as the Self, as a facilitators. Both the good-enough therapist and the Self are capable to lead a conversation in a gentle and respectful manner that wouldn’t offend the Protectors. The goal is to reach the Self’s perspective and lead a conversation from there.

IFS therapy assures us that everyone has the capability to take care of themselves. Once we reach the Core Self with those 8 Cs and 5 Ps, we are able to process any Cptsd flashback, trigger, or other manifestation of a past trauma. Moreover, we would be resolving trauma in a compassionate, calm way.

Read: What are the 8 C’s and 5 P’s of the Core Self?


8 Cs and 5 Ps of the Self for Professional Use

By the way, if you ever need the 8 Cs and 5 Ps of the Self printable poster edited, or if you need “casuallyluxe.com” removed, you can always contact me at casuallyluxxe@gmail.com

Now Available: IFS Mugs, Therapist Gift Ideas

Shop some exellent therapy-related gifts such as IFS therapy mugs. Perfect for anyone familiar with Internal Family Systems, but also for professional therapists and practitioners.

This collection is part of the 8 C’s and 5 P’s of the Self IFS therapy mug on Etsy.

IFS Therapy Mug 8 Cs and 5 Ps of the Self

8 Cs and 5 Ps of the Self IFS Therapy Mug

This 8 Cs and 5 Ps of the Self IFS therapy mug may be a nice high quality therapist gift. One side shows the 8 Cs of the Core Self, and the other illustrates the 5 Ps of the Core Self.

Of course, this IFS therapist’s mug has the artwork of my original printable Internal Family Systems posters. However, I have redesigned the original artworks to illustrate better the principles of IFS on a mug.

Of course, you can also check a similar version of the art on Etsy as well, along with the 8 Cs and 5 Ps of Self IFS therapy mug.

IFS Therapy Model Mug - Internal Family Systems Mug

IFS Therapist Gift Idea - IFS Therapy Model Explained Mug

This coffee mug shows a newer design of my printable IFS therapy posters. This mug works as a great minimalist, high quality IFS therapist gift idea.

In this case I have redesigned the illustration of the Internal Family Systems model. So you can see the IFS model overview in a neat two-part illustration showing the Managers and Fireighters along with the Exiles. Also, on the other side you will see the artwork of the Core Self according to IFS therapy. Click on the link to see it fully represented on Etsy.

Self-Leadership Mug - Internal Family Systems Therapy Mug

Self-Leadership Mug for IFS Therapists

This stylish and minimalist mug illustrates the self-leadership principle explored in IFS therapy. However, the concept of self-leadership is explored in other therapy modalities. Thus, this is not only a gift for an IFS therapists, but an elegant gift for other professionals as well.

Self-Led Mug Funny Coffee Mug for IFS Therapists

Self-Led Fun Coffee Cup for IFS Therapists

The Self-Led fun coffee cup for therapists has the mirrored Self-Led design on one side. As can be seen, this is a witty remark on the concept of being self-led in Internal Family Systems therapy. A fun gift for IFS therapists who will naturally read one side of the cup when facing a mirror. Click to see this fun coffee cup on Etsy, where it’s presented on both sides.

More About the Self

So an important concept in IFS therapy revolves around the idea of the Core Self, of course borrowed from other therapy concepts. Underneath the other parts there’s a core part of us that people depict as “that is actually me”.  The Core Self contains leadership qualities that help resolve trauma that other parts, such as Protectors and Exiles, hold on to.

Everyone has that Self, which means that in Internal Family Systems therapy everyone is assured there’s an inner part of them that is singlehandedly capable of resolving past trauma. This would ofthen come with the help of a therapist, but not necessarily so. The goal is to talk it out with the other parts.

Why Leadership Qualities of the Self?

Qualities such as calmness, curiosity, presence and so on are essential to resolving disputes between family members. Similarly, in Internal Family Systems therapy we talk about parts of us as being part of a family of sorts inside of us. The parts talk with each other and sometimes get into disputes.

Crucially, issues around trauma revolve around the fact that some part of us falsely decide they shoud assume a leader’s role. Because they don’t trust the Self, they would take over the system. As a result, we become slaves to our inner critic, and our actions get triggered by trauma, instead of sincerity.

Essentially, if there’s unresolved trauma from the past, parts of us act like parentified children. They try to take on responsibility that simply isn’t theirs.

In reality, the Core Self knows best and is actually able to parent, so to speak, all of the other parts. In IFS therapy the work revolves around explaning that to the other parts through talk therapy.

Internal Family Systems Therapy 8 Cs and 5 Ps of IFS - Printable Posters

8 Cs and 5 Ps of the Core Self, Printable Set

Purchase this IFS poster set by clicking this link.

Internal Family Systems model worksheet printable

In addition to being suitable for printing as IFS worksheets, they are designed separately for a few formats available on Etsy with high quality resolution:

  1. 🔹 Tabloid (US poster size).
  2. 🔸 18 x 24 inches (US print size)
  3. 🔹 A3 (European size).
  4. 🔸 US Letter print size.
  5. 🔹 A4 print size.

The 8 Cs and 5 Ps of the Core Self Printable Infographic

This 8 Cs and 5 Ps of the Core Self infographic is part of my set of two printable posters available on my shop. Following my previous pintable infographics set, these are my newest IFS therapy posters suitable for black and white print as well. They can be also incorporated as part of working with IFS worksheets, as they’re designed for A4 and US Letter print sizes. All in all, the two printable posters explain the core principles of Internal Family Systems therapy. In particular,  

Abraham Hicks Ready to Be Ready To Be Ready Blue Monstera Wall Art
Purple ifs therapy poster set 8 cs and 5 ps of the core self

Internal Family Systems Therapy Infographics

In addition, here are the oldest set of 2 posters available in the shop. 

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