The Inner child concept, is a trauma-informed approach that is also featured in the works of Carl Jung, Robert Schwartz’s Internal Family Systems, Somatic, and other psychodynamic therapies. Reparenting our younger self is one technique, a small part of this much broader concept.
As we grow older, the way we meet our needs (for security, love and acceptance etc.) changes and evolve. The old patterns of coping that may have worked at that time, may no longer be relevant or effective now.
Emotional neglect can be traumatic, leaves a deep impact on a person’s life, and dictates the way the person behaves as an adult. This can be indirect, unconscious, or implied and hence not always overtly noticeable. When our emotional needs are not met, we learn to people please, follow rules and avoid conflict. Or, we might learn to rebel or become attention seekers. We tend to repeat or recreate these patterns in some form or other later on in life
For example, a client could present with a poor self-image and lack of self-confidence. The therapist might explore how her growing years were, her perceptions and their possible origins, her coping skills then and now, what worked and what didn’t.
What meaning did she make out of the family dynamics and her role within the family, and in comparison, to her siblings/peers?
How did she know she was loved and valued?
How was appreciation or praise communicated?
Is it possible that she is now more mature, has more resources by way of life experiences than when she was younger?
Does she have to hold on to the dysfunctional patterns of thinking and coping or can she let them go?
What message would she like to give to her younger self?
This awareness will most likely encourage the client to explore new possibilities and choose healthier patterns of coping that fit better for her now.
In a way, we are attempting to re-parent, be more compassionate and accepting of our younger self. We are indeed what our past is, but knowing something is not right and seeking help is the first step to building healthier relationships with ourselves and others.