Inner child therapy comes in many forms, and it is important to find a well trained therapist with experience and qualifications in trauma informed therapies when looking for someone to work with.
Having trained in Cognitive Hypnotherapy in 2018, I became interested in inner child therapy and its potential to heal childhood attachment issues and trauma in adults.
With my own lived experience of a complex childhood and various types of trauma, I wanted to help others heal in the same ways I have. I went on to train in Post Induction Therapy (PIT) with The Meadows Behavioural Centre, based in Arizona.
PIT, is an inner child therapy model developed by Pia Mellody. It is a complete framework for working with childhood developmental issues in adults. Because it works in a similar way to hypnotherapy, it combines extremely well with this model. Using Cognitive Hypnotherapy PIT and other trauma informed therapies, gives me a robust set of tools to support my clients.
Inner child therapy, focusses on healing psychological “parts” of the self, that are frozen in a state of childhood wounding.
The term “triggered”, refers to an experience of being cast back to historical emotions, memories or physical states. This causes a person to respond with behaviours and emotional reactions which are more relevant to past traumatic experiences than the present.
Usually, these experiences happen in childhood, which means you are triggered back to a childlike state. During that moment, it is almost impossible to get out of the triggered state or behaviour. And depending on the severity of the original trauma, the impact of the trigger can last for hours. Or sometimes even days or weeks.
Inner child therapy, when used by a fully trained therapist, helps us to heal childhood wounds and reduce the impact of triggering experiences. It is extremely important to work with a well qualified and experienced practitioner, who knows how to support you throughout the course of treatment.
Before we developed more of an understanding of trauma, most specialists believed that only overt forms of abuse, natural disasters, war, crime and terrorism contributed to trauma and PTSD.
Thanks to the work of many forward thinking specialists such as Pia Mellody, Peter Levine, Stephen Borges, Gabor Matè, and others, we now know that attachment trauma has just as harmful, and lasting, an impact on the nervous system.
Attachment trauma, can come in many forms. It is characterised by consistent or prolonged disruption to feelings of safety with one or more primary care givers. This can be for any reason, and is not only limited to overt cruelty and abuse.
Pia Mellody, suggests that regular exposure to behaviour, language, information or overwhelming experiences, can be harmful to the child’s development. She refers to this type of wounding as “less than nurturing parenting”.
In the formative years and if prolonged in later childhood, this type of attachment wounding can lead to developmental immaturity. This causes our emotional development to be stunted, and results in difficulty forming and maintaining relationships in later life.
Symptoms of Childhood Attachment Wounding
The symptoms one can experience from childhood attachment wounding can be vast, and can lead to problems in all areas of life. According to the PIT model these issues can include:
- Less than or better that self-esteem (the latter taking the form of grandiosity or even narcissistic personality disorder in the extreme)
- Boundary issues (unable to set and maintain healthy boundaries or overstepping other’s boundaries)
- Issues of reality (seeing the self as bad, ugly, unloveable, or good and perfect)
- Dependency issues (too needy, needless and wantless, people pleasing or anti-dependent)
- Moderation and containment issues (out of control vs controlling of others)
This can all lead to a range of symptoms including:
- Low self-esteem, feeling defective, broken or bad
- Resentment and raging issues
- Negative control issues
- Addictions, mental and physical health problems
- Fear of intimacy
- Enmeshment and avoidance issues
- Problems making decisions and taking care of the self
- Feeling disconnected from the self and others, a low sense of purpose and feelings of not belonging
- Intensity issues such as social anxiety, phobias, rejection hypersensitivity and more
You can learn more about Pia Mellody, and the PIT model here.
Inner child therapy works by supporting the person to reparent and heal their inner child selves. We do this by providing self-nurturance in ways that the primary caregivers were unable to for whatever reason.
By creating a safe and nurturing environment to revisit painful feelings and emotions, it is possible to heal emotional scars on the nervous system. It’s not always necessary to go over painful memories, and if there is a risk of re-traumatising, then the therapist will avoid going to such memories.
Learning to esteem our younger parts and becoming our own internal parent/s, gives us the ability to recognise our triggers. When we have done enough healing work, we can approach ourselves with more self-love and acceptance. We can let go of shame and fear of abandonment, begin to trust others, and develop healthy and meaningful relationships.
Inner Child Therapy Can Help You To:
- Develop healthy self-esteem and self-love
- Let go of toxic relationship patterns
- Build healthy boundaries and impulse control
- Learn to self-regulate when experiencing difficult emotions
- Overcome addictions and addictive behaviours
- Become better at understanding and communicating your emotions and speaking your truth
- Develop self-care routines that stick
- Build and maintain healthy relationships
I offer in person and online sessions either from my treatment rooms in East London, or the comfort of your own home.
No matter your background, age or gender, inner child work can help you to heal the past and begin living more in the present. There is always a way to create more love and connection in your life, and everyone deserves to feel happy and whole.
If you’d like to discuss how I can help you with inner child therapy, using Cognitive Hypnotherapy, PIT and other trauma therapies that I am trained in, you can book a free consultation below. I work with people of all ages, genders and backgrounds, and it’s never too late to reach out for support.