Those of you who have read my blogs on the Inner Child Work are acquainted with the healing power of this amazing therapeutic modality. First made popular by John Bradshaw through public television in the 1990’s, it has proved to be one of the most effective approaches to recovery and healing the human spirit until today.
I was first attracted to John and his work when my daughter, Pam worked as a therapist at his center in LA. At the same time, I spent hours viewing his television series, Bradshaw: On the Family. I knew I had to bring him to So. Florida so that my clients could receive the benefit of his work. More than four thousand people attended the first four-day workshop on The Inner Child I presented in Miami Beach in 1989. It was so successful and powerful that I followed up with another the following year in Ft. Lauderdale. Again, more than 4 thousand persons attended.
Prior to his first visit to Miami Beach, I had to establish an association and train therapists who could continue the work with the audience after John left. It took several months before the workshop to create what was soon to become Joan E Childs and Associates. John’s director of The John Bradshaw Center, Kip Flock, visited my office in Hallandale several times training therapists I had interviewed and chose to become part of my association. I opened 6 offices in 3 counties, with a trained therapist at each location to meet the needs of those who attended the workshop. I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of followers, most of whom were in the recovering community. During the workshops, all my therapists walked around the auditorium to lend support to those who’s wounds were more than they could handle. The emotional avalanche of the participants sounded more like a Middle-Eastern funeral than a workshop. John broke through defenses that usually take years in therapy to accomplish. Although very much respected, defenses can stall the road to recovery. They worked as a child, but as an adult the survival suits used to protect us as children are no longer useful.
As the workshop continued, the pain and suffering riveted through the venue like a tsunami. It was overwhelming for everyone present. When John left the theater, it was my associates and I that followed up with the healing and recovery in my Hallandale office and the newly established offices. Each office provided weekly groups for those who needed support. It was then, in 1990 that my name became synonymous with Inner Child Work. The Sun Sentinel did an article called, The Inner Child of Joan Childs. Until today I have a following of clients who want to do this process despite the time, money and effort needed to effectuate change. The work is life-changing. John’s model was called the Transformational Model that I still use today, more than 30 years after my introduction to the work.
It has staying power unlike no other modality I have ever known. Coupled with NLP, (neuro-linguistic programming,) Eriksonian hypnosis, parts work, meditation, Gestalt work, and more, Original Pain Work works! I have added EMDR, (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) since the inception of its time.
As the years passed, the need for Inner Child Work grew. I have studied with many masters over the past 45 years in private practice and it amazes me just how popular this work has not only sustained its success, but how much I see on Facebook about the importance of using this modality to heal ourselves and our relationships. Just scroll down your FB page to see how much has been written on the value of this process. We now know that what was once thought of as “fringe” or “pop psychology” has become a well-accepted modality for not just the recovering population, but anyone who has been abused, abandoned, and neglected in their childhood. The wounds of the child remain in our psyche and get acted out in our relationships unconsciously. We unconsciously choose a partner that will give us the worst nightmare in order to resolve our unresolved childhood wounds. Then we fire them for the very reason we hired them. It is impossible to have relational maturity until we cleanse our childhood traumas. Most of us did not have a secure relationship as children so we spend the rest of our lives looking for the love that was denied us in all the wrong places. Addiction, all kinds, becomes the manifestation of the wounded Inner Child. We attempt to self-medicate only to find ourselves deeper in denial and stuck in our past. The only way out is through! The pain of healing is nothing compared to the pain of suffering unresolved trauma.
Today in my work with couples, I employ Inner Child Work to cleanse the polluted space in the relationship. We know that the relationship does not live in the couple. It lives in the space between the couple. That space must be sacred in order for the couple to find fulfillment and joy. Until we understand and feel the wounds, we cannot resolve our contaminated relationships. To just listen to couples, complain about their partner, and give suggestions and/or advice is like going to the bathroom with your pants on. It won’t work. The goal is to go back in time and have the partner learn about the childhood of their mate, the language and landscape and become the advocate their partner never had. For those who do individual counseling, the goal is to reparent the child. The work is NOT an event. It is a process that evolves over time and great effort.
Joan E Childs, LCSW is a renowned psychotherapist, inspirational speaker and author of I Hate The Man I Love: A Conscious Relationship is Your Key to Success. In private practice since 1978, she specializes in individual and couple’s therapy, grief therapy, EMDR, NLP, Inner Child Work and codependency. Learn more about her services at www.joanechilds.com.