Inner Child Work

What is inner child work?

We were all at one time children. And the child you once were did not just up and vanish to be replaced by a perfectly formed, always responsible adult. Indeed, most of us act very much like children at least now and then. And some of us, if we had a tough or loveless childhood, are actually children most (if not all) of the time. We might look like an adult, but inside is an angry five-year old who trusts no one and is secretly calling the shots.

‘Inner child work’ is work you do either by yourself or with a therapist to resolve the childhood emotions and experiences the ‘inner child’ still holds, as well as harness the joy, innocence, and confidence that are your birthright.

What does inner child work really involve?

Different types of therapists, counselors, and coaches will have different approaches to inner child work. Your therapist might not even call the process ‘inner child work’, but instead something along the lines of 'parts psychology,' ‘healing the child within’ or ’embracing your child archetype’. You might even be doing inner child work under the guise of ‘shadow work’. Often it is as a child that we learn to repress things like sadness and anger that then become the hidden shadow.

Really, inner child work is any form of self discovery that helps you access the child you once were, along with the experiences and emotions that child was taught to repress. The general idea of inner child work is that if you make an effort to contact, listen to, communicate with and nurture your inner child, you can find and heal the roots of your issues as an adult.

Inner child work may include the following:
  • dialoguing (talking) with your inner child
  • journaling from your inner child’s voice
  • talking with a therapist from your inner child’s voice
  • meditating to feel in touch with your inner child
  • working with a pillow, doll or stuffed toy that represents your inner child
  • ‘play’ techniques in the therapy room
  • allowing yourself to be playful in real life and do things you loved as a child
  • learning to ‘re-parent’ yourself (nurture and care for yourself).

What is the real benefit of doing inner child work?

The benefits are impressive and include:

  • accessing repressed memories that are holding you back
  • being able to feel again after years of being numb
  • gaining personal power and the ability to set boundaries
  • learning how to take better care of yourself
  • feeling self-compassion and liking yourself more
  • being able to enjoy life and have fun again
  • gaining self-confidence.

What psychological issues can inner child work help me with?

Inner child work can address such issues as:

  • childhood abuse – emotional abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse
  • depression and anxiety
  • anger management issues
  • passive aggressive behaviour
  • low self-esteem
  • abandonment issues and borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • emotional numbness
  • self-sabotage
  • self-criticism and negative self-talk
  • relationship difficulties
  • codependency and powerlessness.