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Overcoming Trauma Through Inner Child Therapy

"It is quite easy for me to think of a God of love mainly because I grew up in a family where love was central and where lovely relationships were ever present. It is quite easy for me to think of the universe as basically friendly mainly because of my uplifting hereditary and environmental circumstances. It is quite easy for me to lean more toward optimism than pessimism about human nature mainly because of my childhood experiences."
- Martin Luther King, Jr. in his Autobiography

"Childhood lasts all through life. It returns to animate broad sections of adult life. Poets will help us find this living childhood within us, this permanent, durable, immobile world." - Gaston Bachelard

"Never had a problem till I stood face to face with me
And I wish there was a way for me to go inside so I could see
All the faces of the people who have torn a piece of me
As I grew from a seed to a tree."
- Lyrics from 'Seed to a Tree' by Blind Melon

Who you are today - your strengths, problems, level of self-esteem, habits - is in large part a product of your development. At each age, from birth to toddler to child to adolescent, you were met with certain typical challenges. If your caregivers raised you in a natural way that allowed you to healthily traverse each stage and master the skills necessary to progress, you most likely ended up a well-balanced, confident individual with a strong sense of yourself.

However, at each stage, there are countless traumas, big and small, that can occur and keep you from resolving the issues of that stage. Unresolved issues stay with us throughout our lives, expressing themselves in our relationships with ourselves and others. If you have a pattern of unhealthy relationships, low self-esteem, addictions or other problems, you may well be experiencing the results of unresolved issues from these childhood and adolescent stages and you might be able to benefit from overcoming trauma.

As Cathryn L. Taylor says in The Inner Child Workbook, "If you react strongly to an interaction with someone, it is usually a sign that an old issue has been triggered. If as a child you were told you never did anything right, then as an adult, when that message is inferred, it will bring up the pain of the past. If in your current relationship you find yourself forever haunted with the fear that your partner will leave you, you may be reacting to an old experience where one of your parents left the other or left you. In other words, if you've been hurt in a similar way before, the hurt from the past as well as the present will emerge. If you find that no matter what you do you have a recurring reaction to a specific issue, it is most likely related to your childhood.

"Numerous examples could be given, but it is most important to understand that you react strongly to people, places and things for a reason. When you find that reason, and heal the circumstances that created it, you are then free to respond to your present interactions, not react to them because of your past. You may not be able to change the facts of your past, but you can change the way you relate to those facts. You may have to rework each scene many times. The repetition will alter the experience, and each time your children within are rescued, they have more trust for you. The more trust they feel for you, the less they will influence your adult life."

Inner Child therapy or healing is a process that helps you to resolve these past experiences, healing inner child issues so that they no longer consciously or unconsciously control your present behavior. I think of healing the inner child through Inner Child work as a process of dredging up the original memories from each stage, or at least creating symbolic images, pictures, voices, sounds, etc., and then replacing them with healthier ones. It is a form of NLP and therein lies its power.

The Inner Child Workbook by Cathryn L. Taylor
The best book I can possibly recommend on this subject is The Inner Child Workbook: What to Do With Your Past When It Just Won't Go Away by Cathryn L. Taylor. It will walk you step-by-step through a very detailed process. It's a lot of work but well worth it!


Dr. Howard Ditkoff is a personal coach, group/organizational/business consultant and trainer through his company, Emergent Associates, LLC, which shares its unique knowledge, understanding and tools to support health in human systems of all types. Howard helps people discover and develop their deepest talents and potentials, bringing greater satisfaction to all areas of their lives, ranging from health to career to relationships, while helping groups, organizations and businesses of all kinds achieve greater success. For more information, or to contact Howard about setting up a Free Introductory Consultation, visit Emergent Associates, LLC's Website or email him.

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