When my therapist brought up inner child therapy in one of our first meetings, I was highly resistant. Just the words inner child therapy scared me for some reason. I didn’t have a real idea of what it was, but I didn’t even want to hear about it. “I know you have your tricks up your sleeve and I don’t need to know what they are. Just do what you have to do, doc.” I said. So he did.
He let me slide for a few sessions. I had things I needed to say before I could ever start inner child therapy, that was clear. I think my therapist also understood that I needed to make sure he really was on my side and understood my past before taking the plunge into something as complex and difficult as inner child therapy.
We talked a lot about a lot of things over the next few weeks, but it didn’t take long before inner child therapy came up again. I was still worried about moving forward, but he had the confidence that I was ready. I trusted his judgment and tentatively agreed to take the plunge the next week.
I’m a curious person and a planner by nature, so I really couldn’t stop myself from scouring the web for information about the process over the next several days. Discovering that there were significant benefits to inner child therapy got me really excited. I wanted to get in touch with my inner child, give her some support, figure out the meaning of life, and get back to feeling better already. The sooner the better.
My enthusiasm was a bit of a mistake. I ended up unreasonably hopeful that by doing my own self work before my therapist and I began as well as between our sessions, I would be fixed and feeling better after just a couple more weeks. Instead, I found myself feeling worse because I couldn’t stop thinking about anything other than the bad things that had happened when I was a kid. I was putting insane amounts of pressure on myself (and my inner child) to quickly examine every traumatic event from my childhood, resolve whatever negative feelings my inner child was holding onto, and have the feel-good revelation that I thought was supposed to come with inner child therapy.
After a few inner child sessions, my anxiety and depression still lingered and were actually getting worse in certain ways. I was silently disappointed by my progress and getting overwhelmed in the process. Then my therapist told me that I was ruminating. Ruminating? That stung. By doing what I was doing, was I actually hurting, not helping, myself? I didn’t want to hear that.
But he was right.
So, after getting over initially feeling perturbed at having been called out, I decided to take a break. I can’t say that it’s been easy, but in the last couple of weeks I’ve been making a very conscious effort to stay in the present and to focus, not on my wounded inner child, but on my life and the person I am now. Focusing on the here and now has its own challenges, but I am feeling more positive over all. Progress!