Many psychological issues stem from children growing up without their emotional needs being met. For example, not receiving security and unconditional love. This results in the child growing up to be an adult who finds it difficult to navigate life and relationships effectively.
The therapeutic approach helpful in this situation is called Reparenting (also referred to as limited reparenting). Here the psychotherapist takes the role of a concerned and trustworthy parent so the client can learn and experience what a trusting relationship is like. This process helps individuals repair attachments, recognize and correct patterns of non-functional behaviors and develop secure, healthy relationships.
There are three ego states of an individual that Reparenting deals with: Adult, Inner-Child and Parent. “Adult” refers to the grown-up individual as of the present day. “Inner-Child” refers to the childhood stage at which the individual was wronged. “Parent” is a therapist (or an individual) who gives the right response the child should have received.
Reparenting involves going back to the childhood event when the child was wronged, giving a satisfactory response and fulfilling the needs that were required at that time for the inner-child. This is done by either self-counseling or therapy.
Ove the years, many forms of reparenting have emerged that have been tested. “Total Regression” is an immersive form of reparenting and was conceived by Jaqui Lee Schiff. Here typically, the patient lives with the therapist for several years where they get to relive their childhood. During this time, the therapist provides the nurturing and care to totally reform the client’s parent ego state.
Spot Reparenting, was developed by Russell Osnes. It focuses more on patients specific experience and incidents that may have been traumatic rather than general disturbances in childhood.
Self-Reparenting is a form of reparenting developed by Muriel James. Here therapy confirms the positive aspects already apparent in the client’s ego instead of attempting to substitute the parent ego state of the client. Further, the client is regarded as the primary agent instead of the therapist.
For right reparenting, it would be best to seek out a mental health professional however in the meantime you may also try some self-help techniques to nurture your inner child. Here are a few of them:
Affirmations that start with “I am…”:
E.g., “I am a loving human.”
As your inner-child, seek help from your Adult self
Give yourself daily rewards.
Get at least 8 hours of sleep.
Read uplifting stories, inspiring literature and quotes.
Write in your notebook a list of things to do on a daily basis.
Stay in the present by practicing mindfulness.
Think about good memories
Although reparenting is used in psychological treatments, its use is in no way limited to those with clinically diagnosed disorders. “If you feel that there are issues from your childhood that are impacting your current life, it could be an excellent invitation to seek out a mental health professional who can assess whether the approach could be beneficial for you.
Who knows, maybe through reparenting you’ll find a trick or two for how to be a little kinder to yourself. Or perhaps you’ll see and recognize the impact your childhood has on your adult life, and that all you need was just someone to hear you share that.