While doing inner child work with clients, I often run them through a guided visualisation where they meet and greet a younger version of themselves. It is mostly an incredibly emotional experience but also gleans insight into how really connected they are with their past and subsequently, the emotions attached to it. At the end of the visualisation, clients are asked to hold an image of them and the child sitting on a bench and then draw it with the non-dominant hand.
I have had various reactions to the process of meeting the younger self. There is very often crying and a release of pent-up emotion but also some rather surprising results. Here are a few:
” I want to slap her”
” She is unclean, unwashed and dirty”
” I cannot and will not see him”
” I felt huge sadness because I know whats coming for that little girl”
Inner Child Therapy is for me one of the most powerful experiences one can go through in therapy. When it is combined with Internal Family Systems Therapy the notion that we have an internal family of “thinking parts” that determine our view of ourselves), it can be life-changing. Once contact is made, then work can be done.
The younger self represents the part that carries childhood trauma and many clients are understandably reluctant sometimes to delve into this murky area. They are never quite sure what will come up. You might suggest that things should be left as they are. However, the influence of that trauma appears frequently on a day to day basis in relationships and a generally held view of self and the world. It also signifies how detached a client is to emotions and gives a clue to how powerful the internal family of thinking parts are.
Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a counseling psychotherapist in online private practice working with individuals, couples and groups, dealing with codependency issues, severe depression, bipolar, personality disorders, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders and other mental health issues. He has been practicing online for many years and recognized early that online therapy was a convenient method for people to meet their therapist. Working outside the box, he goes that extra mile to make sure clients have access to help between sessions, something that is greatly appreciated. He also gives part of his spare time up to mentor psychology students in a university setting.