In order to thrive and grow into our potentials, we all have basic needs that must be met consistently. The most basic needs are for food, safety and shelter. Other important needs are for loving attention, a sense of belonging, stimulation through learning and play, structure and boundaries, age appropriate responsibilities, respect, freedom to express oneself, to be heard, and creative outlets. As children if we do not have these needs met, or they are met erratically or inconsistently, we develop defenses and strategies to compensate. These strategies may help us cope and survive when we are young, but as we get older, these defenses, behaviors, perceptions and ways of being with ourselves, and our world, often become liabilities. Many common issues that clients want to work on in hypnotherapy are linked to these childhood patterns that limit.
Karen’s parents divorced when she was eight years old. After her father moved out, her mother had care of three kids and took on a full time job to make ends meet. Karen lost the full time attention of her mother and her father at the same time. As the oldest child, Karen took on the responsibility of caretaking of her brother and baby sister and doing many chores around the house when her mom was at work. Even though there was the support of baby sitters and neighbors who provided after school childcare, Karen became the second parent to her siblings. Her time to be a child was over.
Karen was commended by all, for being so grown up and responsible. She was such a good girl for helping her mom and for taking care of her brother and sister. And she was so dependable that by the time she was thirteen, her mother allowed Karen to be the after school babysitter, prepare dinner and do the chores without much supervision.
The family maintained some stability. The basic needs were met. But Karen had many childhood needs that seemed to disappear when her father left: the need for age appropriate responsibilities and the freedom to be a kid.
At 32, Karen comes for hypnotherapy wanting to work on her symptoms of co-dependence that are the result of her childhood family dynamics. Her symptoms are burnout, compulsive dependability, an excessive need to take care of others, anger, stress, and many unsatisfying relationships where she gives and gives and still doesn’t have her needs met. She yearns for change. In Karen’s hypnotherapy inner child work is the focus.
It is imperative that the client has access to a positive inner resource that can function as a inner parent before the client engages in inner child work, because in a regressed state the client’s inner child needs to have an appropriate and loving re-parenting experience that will restructure the past events and create new inner child responses. There are several ways to gather resources. A client can meet her higher Self in hypnosis and cultivate a relationship with this inner wisdom as a re-parenting resource, or the client may do some inner family work where the client’s actual parents are transformed into more self-actualized, consistent, appropriate and resourceful “inner parents” who can support the inner child. Another option, especially for a client who has had severe childhood trauma and neglect, is to access a positive archetype of a parent. With the inner parent in place, and available in these hypnotic restructuring processes, the inner child finally has her needs met intra-psychically; it is as if the inner child is freed from the frozen patterns and childhood perceptions, so that she can finally begin to feel whole and free again.
The state of consciousness accessed in hypnosis is elastic: there is no limitation to linear time or space. The hypnotic re-patterning can lighten or undo the energetic patterns of childhood that are creating the present life difficulties, and the hypnotic re-parenting and corrective emotional experiences can create new inner patterns and responses that are accessed in present time. And because hypnotic consciousness is holographic, with ongoing work, the new patterns and experiences eventually generalize and replace the old perceptions, patterns, and behaviors. Inner child work creates lasting change.
In Karen’s inner child work she accesses her higher Self as a resource for an available, wise and responsive inner parent. She dialogues with the higher Self to build trust and a loving inner relationship prior to doing any childhood regression work. She has homework between sessions to make on-going contact with her higher Self as a way to continue to build trust and familiarity with her inner wisdom. When she feels comfortable knowing that her higher Self will be with her, responsive, and consistently available, we begin the childhood regression work to support the transformation and healing of her inner child.
Commonly, the hypnotic regression back to childhood events, is facilitated through a technique called the Affect Somatic Linguistic Bridge. In this technique the client chooses a specific troubling issue that is current in her life and goes into the issue through body sensations, emotions and words that represent the experience. By suggesting that these current life effects are amplified, they become the bridge back in time to the childhood events.
When using this technique, Karen feels an emptiness in her stomach, and a heaviness in her shoulders. She expresses that the emotions are abandonment and feeling responsible for her siblings. Her words are, “It is up to me. I have to do it myself.” She feels this huge burden and her tears begin to flow.
Karen regresses to eight years of age. She is alone in the house with her siblings after school, when her newly divorced mom is at work. She is cooking popcorn for an after school snack. Smoke fills the hallway and the fire alarm goes off. She pulls the pan off the stove, grabs her baby sister and screams for her brother to get out of the house. After the smoke clears, Karen discovers that the house is safe. She scours the burnt pan and airs out the house. She doesn’t tell her mother about the incident because she wants her mom to think she is responsible and a big girl. Every time her mom comes home she tells Karen what a big girl she is, how responsible she is, and how she can trust her to help with the house and the kids. This special attention from her mom feels wonderful. Karen thinks that telling her mom about the smoke and burned popcorn may not only make her mom mad, but it may also stop her mom from giving her attention and praise that fills up the empty place inside. Karen covers up her fear, and the feelings of pressure to do things responsibly and correctly, so she can continue to get approval from her mom. Getting approval for what she does is the main way Karen feels love from her mother. Karen’s developing co-dependent patterns are reinforced each time she denies her feelings or her needs and takes care of the house or her siblings for her mother’s approval. Because Karen’s needs aren’t met freely and directly for her efforts, she begins to resent her siblings.
In the hypnotic re-parenting of the eight year old, Karen’s higher Self takes charge of the popcorn incident and gets the three kids to safety and then, as the adult, she accesses the problem and deals with it. Her higher Self talks to Karen and tells her that she is lovable for simply being who she is, not for what she does. Her higher Self attends to Karen’s needs to be a child and have free time and play time. Time to be a kid. The higher Self spends time with Karen nurturing her, and being present with her. Karen begins to relax and let go of the compulsion to have to do, to be worthy and lovable.
After several inner child sessions, Karen notices that she is beginning to set boundaries for herself and nurture herself more. She begins to practice meeting her own needs first. And when she gives to others, she begins to give from a place of fullness rather than from a place of needing approval or acknowledgement from others. She feels more relaxed and more energy and joy. Her transformation continues as she learns how to attend to, love and support her inner child.
By accessing holographic consciousness in hypnosis, and working with the inner child, we can heal places where our psychological development was arrested because of unmet needs. By accessing the beyond time and space elasticity of hypnotic consciousness, and engaging in inner child work, it is not too late to have a happy childhood.
Note: The client Karen is fictional, but an accurate representation of what a typical co-dependent client would go through in hypnotherapy focusing on inner child work.
Holly Holmes-Meredith is a Doctor of Ministry and a licensed Marriage family Therapist who trains hypnotherapists at HCH Institute in Lafayette CA. Learn more about hypnosis and its many therapeutic uses by reading her other blogs on Past life Therapy, Spirit Releasement Therapy, Manifesting your dreams and more.
Visit www.HypnotherapyTraining.com to learn about HCH Institute and its California state approved and registered certification trainings and classes for personal growth in hypnotherapy, energy therapy and parapsychological studies. And listen to her pod cast and samples of Holly's Hypnosis CDs which are available on-line.