What is inner child healing work and who does it benefit?

Scrolling aimlessly down my TikTok For You Page last week, I came across a video asking viewers to ‘put a finger down if’ a statement applied to them.

These videos are common on the app, but are usually a little more light-hearted than the one I found myself watching.

Statements reeled off by the creator included ‘having a fear of abandonment’ or ‘having boundaries that are too weak or too rigid’.

At the end of the video, she said, somewhat solemnly: ‘If you put more than five fingers down, you might have a wounded inner child.’

On the app, the hashtags #innerchild and #innerchildhealing have 316.2 million and 133.4 million views respectively, discussing the psychotherapy technique associated with healing the emotional wounds we collected as children.

But it can be hard to package something so complex into a video of less than three minutes, so we asked Sally Baker, a senior therapist with more than 20 years of experience, to break it down.

What is inner child healing work?

Inner child work, also known as regression, is a psychotherapy technique for patients dealing with trauma that happened to them as a child.

Trauma experienced in our early lives can stick with us, moulding our thought processes and reactions.

‘What you’re actually doing through the inner child work is healing the part of you that got broken off during the trauma, and the part that the adult section of the patient blames for the events that happened to the child,’ Sally tells Metro.co.uk.

‘It doesn’t matter what has happened, however awful. What’s often more harmful are the judgments trauma sufferers make about themselves, and their judgments about the child that these things happened to.

‘Inner child healing work is a guided meditation or visualisation lead by a trained professional.

‘It can be done in a trance, but it doesn’t have to be.’

Over the course of around 90 minutes, patients are taken back to a place and time of their choosing, one that will best help them to address the issues.

They are asked to embrace, accept and forgive their inner child so that they can begin to move forward knowing that that their inner child is safe.

‘It’s incredibly powerful,’ says Sally. ‘The client will often feel huge relief, to think that that wounded child who went through so much trauma and agony is now safe with them.’

Who does inner child healing work benefit?

‘Inner child healing work is not something I do with every client,’ Sally tells us.

This technique benefits people whose childhood trauma is impacting them in multifaceted ways.

Sally explains: ‘If I see a client who’s got a problem with elevators, we just deal with their phobia about going into an elevator.’

‘But if they’ve got something deep and profound that stayed with them from childhood, that affects many aspects of their life, such as their ability to form and relationships, addiction problems, eating disorders or self-sabotaging behaviours, there is often potential for a wounded child to be at the root of such issues.’

For these people, inner child healing can be hugely beneficial, when done properly.

‘The main benefits of inner child healing is a sense of acceptance, self love, increased self worth and self esteem,’ Sally adds.

‘People move from a place of overwhelm into a place of self empowerment. They feel more courageous, more complete.

‘They’ve integrated a part of them that they’ve held at arm’s length, that’s been hurting and undermining them.

‘It’s incredibly empowering.’

Should people attempt to heal their inner child without a professional?

Despite TikTok may have you believe, healing a wounded inner child is not something that should be seen as a self-help method.

‘It’s too powerful,’ says Baker. ‘There’s too much chance of an adverse reaction, which may result in a level of deep distress.

‘There are quite a few therapeutic practices that can be retraumatising and dangerous.

‘It’s like doing your own root canal work – you probably can’t go deep enough to do your own inner child work.

‘It has to be managed really closely and the client needs to be in a position where they trust their therapist.’

Before inner child healing work, there is often a lot of preparatory work done first, building trust between a patient and their therapist and making sure they are ready to delve into their childhood trauma.

‘So often, people are just looking for a silver bullet,’ adds Sally.

‘But it’s a process, and healing work doesn’t happen in isolation.’

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