Changing beliefs and behaviours - inner child work
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Lee Allen Registered Member MBACP
20th February, 20120 Comments
Have you always believed you are not good enough, that you take the blame for things going wrong, even when you haven’t done anything wrong, and that you are not lovable, where did these beliefs come from? I can answer this, from your childhood, that as a child you took these beliefs from adults in your life and if you didn’t have another adult to help you change these beliefs, you made these beliefs become yours and it may feel now as an adult you’ve always had these beliefs, and you might feel you cannot change them? I want you to consider that you can change your beliefs and behaviour around your beliefs that this can be done through working with a counsellor who can work with your inner child, which is the part of you that internalised all these beliefs, behaviours and the experiences around these beliefs that make you feel you cannot change them.
If a counsellor can work with your inner child this can enable lasting change to the beliefs and behaviours that stem from your childhood, it can really help you if you have been abused in childhood, and can be effective with beliefs and behaviours that as an adult you have felt has always been part of you, yet where in fact learnt from a parent/parents or other significant adults in your childhood. To explain the process a little more and hopefully make sense of how being with a part of you, that may hurt , that you may feel is weird and uncomfortable , that you might have spent your life trying to get away from, how then would going back into the past can help your present, hopefully I can reassure you? As a child you took the beliefs you experienced and made them your own, now it may feel that they do not fit into who you’d really like to be, and that you might feel stuck with, this is because those beliefs live within you at a unconscious level and therefore as an adult you cannot access their origin, and the only way to change these beliefs is through making them conscious, this is where inner child work comes in.
A counsellor experienced in inner child work will work with you the adult to help you experience your inner child, they will be very sensitive towards any difficulty and awkwardness you might feel, and will not push you into working with your inner child, until you are ready. If you are able and ready to experience you inner child, your counsellor will be gentle and reassuring with your child, being with your child may feel very strange, and could feel painful and upsetting , yet stay with it , the counsellor will want you to be able to listen to your child, and will probably be asking you questions about your child , like does you child have a voice, does it want to talk to your adult , and hopefully you the adult will hear your child clearly without you the adult talking your child down . If you have really heard your child, it has probable told you things it really needs you to hear, these things might well be the beliefs your child made into being true to them, the counsellor will be wanting your adult to reply to your inner child, it is what you the adult do to help your child that can break the belief and change it. While I have tried to simplify the process, I wanted to try and explain it in a way you the reader can understand.
To summarise the process of inner child work, the counsellor will be trying to establish a dialogue between your inner child, that unconscious part of you, and your adult self, the conscious part of you, with the intention that the unconscious part of you can become conscious to your conscious self, and therefore with this new information your adult self can help change the beliefs held with your child into a new script and therefore behaviours around that script. An example can be I can never do right, I’m always wrong, this script having come from a adult from your childhood, it can be challenged and changed by you adult self .Your child will need to hear it was not its fault for the blame and disapproval it experienced from an adult, and that your adult self doesn’t believe it is always wrong and that it had done nothing wrong.
What is most important with this work is that you the client feels able to trust in your counsellor, and that if you feel it is unsafe for you to enter into such work with your counsellor, please trust in your instincts, if your counsellor is sensitive and fully aware of any difficulty you may have about entering into inner child work, they will not push you, and will respect your wishes. Inner child work can only work if you feel ready and able to be with your inner child, and that your counsellor is really competent in this work. Being with your child could make your child feel very vulnerable, your child will need to feel really able to trust in the adult, your counsellor, if your child doesn’t feel it , then this work will not be possible and could hurt your child therefore you, and I’d question if your counsellor is the right one. You do have the right to finish working with a counsellor if you feel unsafe and can always choose another counsellor. Not every counsellor works with the inner child and you will need to check with the counsellor you choose to see if that is something they do, tread carefully your child needs you.
Related articles from our experts
Fiona Goldman, BACP Registered CounsellorJanuary 17th, 2017
Julie CrowleyJanuary 18th, 2017
Tom KeelyJanuary 16th, 2017
Andrea Harrn Psychotherapist and Author of The Mood CardsMay 13th, 2011
Imi Lo: Psychotherapist, Art Therapist, Supervisor (MMH,UKCP,HCPC,MBPsS)March 29th, 2015
Keeley Townsend BA (Hons), Ad.Dip.CP with Distinction, MNCS (Acc)December 14th, 2009
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.