Why is inner child work so effective?

At The Finding Place, we believe the best therapy should eventually include inner child work, so let’s talk about what that means. Inner child work looks back at childhood to identify some root causes of the struggles we have as adults. Inner child work also identifies the gifts from our younger parts that need to be recognized, unlocked, and developed in order to heal. 

While behavioral therapy may teach you strategies to employ when you approach a problematic situation, these tactics are simply patches for a wound, not the cure. Inner child work examines your past to uncover the sources of your trauma as well as otherwise unknown resources for resolution.

How does my back then affect my here and now?

In his essay, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Sigmund Freud postulated, “The patient cannot remember the whole of what is repressed in him, and what he cannot remember may be precisely the essential part of it. He is obliged to repeat the repressed material as a contemporary experience instead of remembering it as something in the past.” In other words, unresolved trauma in a patient’s past led to a present-day reiteration of the trauma. As experienced trauma therapists, we know this to be a common occurrence. 

Let’s look at some examples: 

  • A woman feels chronically fatigued without a medical explanation. Through inner child work in counseling, she remembers the parental neglect she experienced as her overwhelmed mother unloaded the responsibility of raising her siblings onto her; her nervous system remembers that systemic overload. The back then attachment wound led to her here and now fatigue.
  • A man shuts down emotionally at the first sign of conflict in his marriage. After doing inner child work in counseling, he remembers being bullied by his older brother while his parents turned a blind eye. His needs were unmet back then, so he unconsciously learned not to express his needs in the here and now.
  • A father erupts when his children don’t do what he says. While doing inner child work in counseling, he remembers his own emotionally immature father using fear tactics and physical abuse to coerce “good” behavior and control him. The back then trauma has caused the here and now anger.

The good news is that most issues can be resolved during counseling by adequately exploring the experiences we had in our family of origin. 

How do I harness the superpowers of my inner child?

Have you ever noticed that superhero movies always have a flashback to the hero’s childhood–a scene that shows the audience the back then origin of the hero’s trauma as well as the channels the hero uses to break through here and now issues? There is incredible energy and power found in childhood that can render present issues irrelevant, if you can harness them. 

Not so coincidentally, most trauma treatment modalities are designed to harness the power of the younger parts–internal family systems (IFS), Brainspotting, somatic experiencing, timelines, narrative therapy. All of these techniques address the theme of a wounded inner child who holds the keys to healing, and we employ them all here at The Finding Place.

Why is your counseling clinic called “The Finding Place”?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions about our counseling clinic in Little Rock, and the answer relates back to inner child work. The clinic’s name is taken from a T.S. Eliot poem called Little Gidding, which speaks of lost children in an apple tree who were not known because they were not looked for.

The interpretation is that children often do not know how special and amazing they are because their gifts and abilities go unrecognized (or are shamed by a caregiver or the world), which leads to self-abandonment in adults–ignoring your own needs and emotions and hiding parts of yourself to please others. 

The poem continues, 

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

Inner child work allows us to explore and truly know our younger, back then selves for the first time and arrive here and now whole and healed for the first time.

The Finding Place Counseling offers mental health counseling in Little Rock, Arkansas, and custom therapy intensives that serve clients across the country. Visit our FAQ page then contact us to learn more.

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