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Tom Holmes, MSW, PhD

Tom Holmes is an international trainer of psychologists, social workers, counselors and holistic therapists. His specialty is spirituality in the therapeutic process. Tom is the author of Parts Work: An Illustrated Guide to Your Inner Life, which has sold over 100,000 copies and been translated into several languages.

Tom has a PhD in Counseling Psychology and is a Professor Emeritus at Western Michigan University (WMU). He has been training graduate students in psychotherapy since 1985, and teaching in WMU's Holistic Health Program since 1996.  Tom trained in Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy with Richard Schwartz in the late 1980's. He has been teaching, training, and using IFS in private practice since that time.

Tom has two internationally popular programs.  One focuses on training therapists on the integration of Internal Systems Therapy IST and spirituality.  IST is an IFS based model of therapy with an emphasis on integrating it with other treatment models, as well as developing a non-pathologizing approach to psychological well-being.  Tom's other focus is on burnout prevention for a wide range of healthcare professionals.  His seminars, Healing the Healer and Tuning the Heart of the Healer integrate Western psychology with Buddhist psychology and the Sufi path of the heart, as well as spiritual teachings from Christianity, Judaism, and Daoism.


International IFS Training Service

Since 2007, Tom has been bringing IFS and parts work around the world. He started with training therapists in Germany. From there, he was invited to the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, and Korea. In Fall 2016, he began training Jordanian therapists who work with Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Jordan. In 2023, he started serving therapists in war torn Ukraine.

“My goal is to help therapists work from Self and access that openhearted place. If they can do this, it allows them to have deep compassion in a sustainable way, while offering the therapeutic conditions research shows are key to healing. I see my workshops as a tuning the heart of the healer.”
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How Tom came to this work...

After two decades of intensive clinical work, as well as doing his own personal therapeutic work, Tom was burned out toward the end of the 1980s. He considered giving up clinical work. Then, he was introduced to IFS. Tom began training with Richard Schwartz, PhD (IFS Founder), at the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois in 1989.

In 1990, Tom became a client of an IFS therapist. In three sessions, he made more progress working with burnout than he had ever been able to using other models. Arounf the same time, he attended a week-long mindfulness retreat with Vietnamese Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. These two experiences inspired him to begin integrating IFS and spirituality to help therapists manage burnout and develop sustainable compassion. This became a focus for his work. 


Tom retired early from the university in 2007 to begin sharing his integration of IFS and spirituality internationally. He has offered workshops all around Europe, in Korea, and in the Middle East. In 2016, he began to offer his burnout-prevention workshops to therapists and volunteers working with the one million Syrian refugees who had arrived in Germany. He then had the opportunity to offer these same workshops in Jordan and Egypt, working with therapists who serve refugees and other under-served populations. In recent years, he has helped build local networks in Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon with the hope of developing homegrown providers to deliver IFS training locally.  Most recently he offered his Healing the Healer workshops in Lviv, Ukraine.

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