Inner child work in a nutshell
It is important to have an established and good working relationship with your client. Talk to the client about the inner child and how it may help to do an experiment to help this part of the self.
Ask permission. If the client agrees ask her/him to bring to the session a photo of herself/himself where they were in a happy place during childhood. After you both look at the photo and the client describes what the meaning of it was, ask the client to tell you about a safe place where they used to be able to go as a child where they could be safe or where there are happy memories.
Get the client to relax, to become aware of the chair supporting their body, to focus on their breathing. Do this for about three minutes just gently encouraging the client to relax. Gently remind the client that if they feel uncomfortable at any time during this exploration all they need to do is open their eyes and say that they do not wish to continue, also that it may be a slow exploration that can develop over several sessions.
It may helpful for the client to have their eyes shut as this will help them visualise that place.
Encourage the client to describe the place in detail, colours, smells, textures, sounds.
Encourage the client to image themselves there as a child.
Then tell the client that the adult part of them is going to go to that place where the child is.
Again encourage description of the place where they are going in detail.
Then encourage them to go to where the small self is and to embrace it, hold it, nurture it and tell it that it is safe now and that they will protect her/him.
If there was a nasty person in the past, the adult self can be imaged to stand between the child and the protagonist and the adult self challenges and tells the protagonist that they will never again harm this child. Encourage them to see the protagonist in the reality of measure of being an adult confronting them rather than the gigantic image that they may have been overshadowing the child.
Bring their focus back into the here and now by getting them to focus on their breathing and then to become aware of sounds in the room. After exploring how that felt ask the client what they will be doing after the session to ensure that when they leave they are back in the present fully.
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.
About Maureen Anderson
Maureen Anderson M.A. Bsc(hons) psychology
U.K.C.P. registered psychotherapist/clinical supervisor