Can inner child healing help our adult relationships?
So many people walk into my therapy room for the first time (or join me online) and tell me that they are struggling with their relationships. And by this I mean relationships of all kinds; partners, romance, difficulties with emotional and physical intimacy, struggles to maintain friendships or connections to parents and children. Also, relationships where the emotional investment is not seemingly so high, relationships with colleagues at work, for example.
Every client is unique and the causes of friction in their relationships with others are both many and varied. However, it’s true that there is often a common thread to the cause of their difficulties, and that is trauma that has occurred, typically in childhood though also sometimes in later years. The trauma they experienced caused a pattern of behaviour to develop that may have given them some kind of emotional reward or protection when they were a child, but is now causing them unhappiness, stress and anxiety in their adult relationships.
I seek to break that destructive pattern using inner child healing.
What are the key ways in which childhood trauma may affect our adult relationships?
Every child has a right to feel protected, nurtured, safe and secure. Sadly, however, not every child does. The patterns of behaviour we learn when we are a child can continue into adulthood without us really being aware of them. We just have a feeling somewhere that things are not right. We look at how other people are doing and feel our own relationships are not functioning as well as they might. What may have caused this pattern? As children, we look up to our caregivers and learn our behaviour from them. We just accept that what they are doing is the right way to behave.
So, if our parents neglect us, we are not always likely to blame them for this neglect. Instead, neglect becomes normal to us and we fear we may have bought this situation upon ourselves by our own actions. We feel that we are to blame somehow. And if our parents are always arguing or have a dysfunctional relationship, somewhere buried inside us we feel that it is appropriate that we behave this way ourselves, or tolerate being treated badly by others.
Some of the patterns of behaviour we may notice are:
Fear of abandonment
If, as a child, you felt neglected, unwanted or unloved these are very painful feelings that can certainly stay with you until later in life. You may have a fear of your partner and loved ones leaving you, that no one really cares about you. Or you may cling to people too tightly, becoming possessive. Feelings of abandonment may make us overreact if someone walks off during an argument say, or we storm off ourselves as we try to “get our revenge in first”.
You may have learned in childhood that it was beneficial, perhaps even essential, to keep certain people happy, or to be the peacekeeper in the family. In adult life that strategy is unlikely to be helpful, leading you to neglect your own needs, or to become anxious because you feel you are not doing enough to make your loved ones, friends or colleagues at work happy.
Feeling angry all the time, snapping at people or overreacting
If we spent our childhood being criticised, or grow up in a household where it was common to see others being criticised, it may make us feel that this behaviour is a normal way of letting our partner, loved ones or people at work know how we are feeling. Instead of trying to resolve issues reasonably, we feel we are under attack and overreact, either through snapping back, being over-critical of others or by being passive-aggressive.
What is inner child healing and how can it help my adult relationships?
As a therapist, firstly I seek to make my clients aware of the trauma they experienced. It may sound strange, but it's possible that if you experienced trauma you may not even have identified it as such. You may feel it’s normal to be treated this way or make excuses for the behaviour of others. This inner conflict causes much confusion and it’s my job as a therapist to support you emotionally throughout this process. My approach is warm, understanding and completely non-judgemental. I’m on your side.
Hypnosis is used to help you to access the thoughts and feelings that may be buried deeply in your unconscious mind. But I don’t want this to sound like a magical or traumatising experience, far from it. Hypnosis is simply a deep, relaxed state where your mind, free of other distractions, can gently explore things knowing that you are in a safe and supportive environment. I’m then there to discuss with you any issues or feelings that may arise to help you to better understand.
Awareness is a wonderful thing, after all, knowledge is power, right? But simply knowing about a problem is not the same as solving a problem and this leads us to the second use of hypnosis. As I said above, childhood trauma leads to us creating patterns of behaviour that may not be helpful, (and are usually downright unhelpful), in later life. We need to break that cycle and replace it with something more healthy. So I gently lead my clients into a deep relaxed state, (trance means simply this, a relaxed state of mind, a perfectly calm and natural experience where you remain in full control). In this state, I will make suggestions to them that will help them to change their behaviour pattern and to be able to lead their lives in a more positive, harmonious way. For more insight into hypnosis please watch my video.
Can inner child healing help people to recover from serious trauma, such as abuse?
Inner child healing with hypnosis is a fast and effective form of dealing with trauma of all kinds, including PTSD. However, we should be aware that some trauma comes from a single issue: for example, someone who had an otherwise happy childhood but who was involved in a car crash or had to cope with the death of a loved one, might be said to have experienced a painful “single issue” trauma. The event caused them much distress and sadness, and their reaction may take many forms, however, it is clear to both themselves and the therapist what caused their difficulties and now they need the therapist's help in order to fully heal.
Other serious traumas, like abuse, abandonment or neglect are often more complex and multi-faceted. Tragically the emotions felt are often very confusing and difficult to understand, can involve feelings of guilt and shame, or that the victim is somehow themselves to blame. And the problems they may be experiencing as adults are likely to be deep-rooted and may be multi-faceted: anger, anxiety, depression, problems with intimacy Also self-sabotaging behaviours including promiscuity and addiction. Such problems are likely to need more in-depth work with the therapist.
How long will it take me to get fixed?
Inner child healing usually begins with an initial consultation where we can discuss your situation in greater depth and for you to receive your first session of hypnosis. This is usually followed by three further one hour sessions of hypnotherapy, however, for more complex trauma we may need more time and for this reason, I let clients know that the sessions are open-ended. There would be an opportunity to discuss ongoing treatment at the initial consultation.