Insight Focused Therapy


A mindfulness-based therapy that incorporates the principals of neuro-science…the brain’s ability to change and self-organise.

The IFT process promotes the rebuilding of neural structures, made possible through the power of neuroplasticity and the reflective mind, to re-wire the brain and to move it towards integration.

This 10 part training series is suitable for medical professionals, therapists, people-helpers and individuals wishing to invest in their personal growth and development.

Skeates’ synthesis of various leading theories and addition of her unique “Guiding Statements” have produced a highly efficient modality. The mindfulness perspective is at once gentle and potent, allowing us access to insights that lead to change at a neurological level. This gives us the freedom to move forward into wellbeing so that we can realise our full potential.

Insight Focused Therapy

IFT, developed by Pauline Skeates, therapist and trainer, is an integrative modality, which draws from the latest salient discoveries from the fields of neuroscience and mindfulness.  Incorporated into her conceptualisation are concepts from Attachment Theory, Coherence Theory, Developmental Theory and Polyvagal Theory. Aspects of these underpin the cohesive, therapeutic process known as IFT.

Skeates has incorporated these theories because, throughout the human lifespan, there are genetic and environmental factors that shape the structure of the brain. Initially, early interactions with primary caregivers lay down neural connections in the developing brain of the infant, which form representations of the world and the beginnings of self-concept.

“…early interpersonal experiences may be far more influential than are those occurring later.  The fact that they are preconscious and non-verbal makes them difficult to discover and more resistant to change…we emerge into self-awareness pre-programmed by unconsciously organised hidden layers of neural processing.  The structure of these neural networks organises core structures of our experience of self” (Cozolino, 2010, p.72)…

…and so, “When we talk of building and rebuilding the brain, neurons are our basic building blocks, and neural networks are the structures that we build and shape” (Cozolino, 2005, p.16).

The brain functions as an open, dynamic system best explained by Complexity Theory. “…an understanding about the unpredictable but self-organising nature of complex clusters functioning as a self-perpetuating system” (Siegel, 1999).

Rebuilding is made possible through the power of neuroplasticity and the reflective mind, to change the brain and to move it towards integration; utilising the brain’s ability to self-organise.

Typically the brain remains in a locked state to maintain the integrity of prior learning. Anything that challenges this elicits the protective mode, which locks down the brain again, making learning impossible.

During an IFT process, however, kindness, acceptance, and compassion, soothe the fear response.  This has the effect of opening up our scope of awareness so that fresh insights can come into our conscious mind.  This, in turn, creates a kaleidoscope effect as one change rearranges neural clusters within the brain structure, causing lasting emotional, psychological and behavioural change by the process of neuroplasticity.  Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain and nervous system to change structurally and functionally, as a result of input from the environment.

The IFT process begins by giving intentional attention to an issue in a mindful way; curious, loving, open accepting and kind. This has the effect of calming our anxious reactivity and softens our defences. In this ‘still space’, our consciousness is opened up for a trail of awareness (neurological links) to emerge, without attempting to change them or fix them or analyse them.  It is in this space that transformational insights can emerge. Along the way, lost and dissociated parts and fragments of memory are gathered, collected, organised, and welcomed into a coherent whole.

IFT is holistic, addressing every domain of personhood in the quest for wellbeing. It effectively:

  • Reduces fear through acceptance and kindness (an attitude of mindfulness)
  • Is non-directive (empowering)
  • Is gentle and reassuring (dissolving defences)
  • Makes possible an awareness of deep implicit material and insights as we encounter ourselves with openness and kindness
  • Links symptoms with implicit memories or beliefs, in a coherent way providing deeper self-understanding
  • Results in the emergence of Ipseity
  • Promotes cognitive dissonance when a new insight is juxtaposed with an old belief
  • Reconfigures the brain at a structural level as a result of its self-organising capacity
  • Promotes integration of parts
  • Leads to behavioural and cognitive benefits and greater wellbeing.

IFT training will teach you how to re-wire your brain for success.

Who can use it

IFT can be used by therapists, mentors, coaches, advisors, and people-helpers. It can also be used as a personal development tool. In fact, anyone can use this loving, open and accepting inner dialogue. The research of Friedrickson (2010) and others document that as little as eight minutes of mindful-awareness practice per day can result in a significantly improved sense of well-being.

Components of IFT

In our training you will learn aspects from the latest neuroscience, mindfulness and trauma specialists research drawn from many of the experts in these fields, such as: Siegel, Schore, LeDoux, Cozolino, Porges, van der Kolk, Kabit-Zin, Williams and others, together with principles from Attachment Theory, Fixed Point vs Emergent Living, Coherence and Clean Language Theories, biological principles and spiritual awareness.

You will learn how to utilise the principals of IFT to take mastery of your life and maximise the neuroplasticity of the brain.

IFT Training

We offer training in Insight Focused Therapy to mental health professionals, therapists, coaches, people helpers, advisers and those wishing to invest in personal development.

Class content:

  • 10 Modules – Insight Focused Therapy – Theory and practice
  • Group work
  • Practical exercises
  • Personal experience
  • Duration: 10 seminar days

Participants will receive a certificate of achievement for professional development upon completion of the course.

Coming soon:  we will also be offering online IFT training, please let us know if you are interested in our online training option.

Course Structure

10 Seminar Days – over one year $150 + GST per day (includes IFT training kit, class notes, relevant articles, delicious morning and afternoon tea)

Additional requirements for those wishing to complete a Practicum Certificate of Achievement:

  • 25 hours of IFT counselling clients
  • 1 hour supervision for every five hours of counselling
  • 10 hours of personal therapy with a trained IFT counsellor
  • Required reading – 4 books
  • One book review
  • 1 written case-study of 1,500 words
  • A 15 minute transcript of a recorded IFT process to accompany the case-study.

Counselling fees per session:

  • Pauline – $140.00NZD + GST
  • Sandy – $100.00 NZD – (GST not applicable)
  • Karin – 100 Euro (VAT may apply)
  • Esther – 100 Euro

“It has been fascinating to learn about how the brain functions under stress, how this relates to an individual’s past and how it can be ‘reset’ to enable more positive outcomes for the future. Learning how to engage in the present moment instead of living in fear of the uncertainties ahead is a must, I believe, for any individual. This course provides huge insight into this process. Oh, and the hospitality shown as we learn is awesome! Thanks ‘Insight’ team :) “. 

Deb - Designer

2013/2014 IFT Course

“I have enjoyed and benefited from being part of the IFT training course over the last year. The teaching material is well presented and incorporates practical exercises that lay the foundation for a new set of life skills that can empower you to achieve change and growth on an ongoing basis”.

Sam - Stock Market Trader

2013/2014 - IFT Course

The IFT course that is run by the team at Insight International has given me a lot of theory and useful techniques that have changed both my personal life and how I work with my clients. I enjoyed the combination of theory and exercises which allow for experiential learning. The course is held in a lovely location and is presented in a professional and clear manner. I highly recommend this course!

Chantal - Clinical Psychologist

2013/14 course, renewyourmind

Thank you to Pauline and her team at Insight International.
I completed Insight Focus Therapy Level 1 &2 and can highly recommend this course.
The days spent in class were interesting, supportive, friendly and not really like traditional teaching at all. We were presented with a mix of videos, written material, exercises, and Pauline’s excellent teaching. The information presented is extremely well researched with lots of references to follow up on afterwards. We were given plenty of free reading material which I continue to use for reference and further study.
If you are an experienced counselor, therapist and people person then this is a course for you. You will expand and deepen your knowledge as well as gain confidence in your practice. Well worth it!


2015/16 course

Related Theories

  • Coherence Therapy
  • ACT
  • EMDR
  • Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

Insight International - Psychological Services, Counselling, Training, Research

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