Internal Family Systems as Active imagination

Bruce Dickson
4 min readJan 8, 2020

IFS as return to Active imagination

2010: “Active Imagination fell way from Jungian work in last 50 years and is only now making a comeback” — Dr. Murray Stein & Dr. Paul Brutsche, renowned Jungian analysts from University of Zurich —

sensory imagination thumbnail from Shutterstock

The 2010 date rang a bell with. It’s consistent with the first peak of rising interest in Internal Family Systems (IFS) — which appears to be 2009–2016. The first of several rising peaks for IFS in the field of counseling psychology?

In 2019, talking with other wide-ranging explorers in growth work history, technique, method; and, reading online, I found very wide agreement on the following:

“IFS is the most modern and perhaps most robust system for working with sub-personalities to date” ~ Scott Jeffrey

What is Active Imagination?

Active imagination is a conscious method of experimentation. It employs creative imagination as an organ for “perceiving outside your own mental boxes.”

For the first hundred years of active imagination, it was applied primarily by individuals for exploring their own sub- and unconscious. Hence its value in psycho-therapeutic settings.