NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Thursday, May 18, 2023

Reparenting Yourself: How to Become a Good Enough Parent to Yourself

Unfortunately, everyone didn't get good enough parenting when they were children.  

Good enough parenting usually leads to secure attachment, but it's estimated that only 50% of people have secure attachment and the other 50% experience insecure attachment (see my article: What Are Attachment Styles?).

Becoming a Good Enough Parent to Yourself
If you didn't get good enough parenting, chances are that one or both of your parents probably didn't get it either.  

How to Become a Good Enough Parent to Yourself

Childhood emotional neglect and abuse are much more common than most people realize.  

Childhood emotional neglect and abuse often lead to attachment-related problems later in life with adult romantic relationships (see my article:  How Unresolved Trauma Affects Your Ability to Be Emotionally Vulnerable in a Romantic Relationship).

So, if you didn't get the parenting you needed as a child, reparenting yourself as an adult with love and self compassion is essential to emotional healing.  It will help you to build a strong sense of self esteem and self worth.

The Role of Self Compassion
Children who grew up without good enough parenting are often hard on themselves as children and adults.  If they had critical and shaming parents, these children internalize those characteristics in an unconscious way.

How to Become a Good Enough Parent to Yourself

This is why self compassion is so important.  For these people to heal, they need to learn to give themselves the compassion they didn't get as children.  This can be difficult to learn, especially if there's a part of them that feels they don't deserve it (see my article: Overcoming the Emotional Pain of Feeling Unlovable).

Accessing a Self Compassionate Part of Yourself
Parts Work, also known as Ego States Therapy, was originally developed by psychotherapists John and Helen Watkins in the 1970s. They specialized in hypnotherapy.

Part of the work for individuals who were traumatized is learning to access a compassionate part of themselves (see my article: How Parts Work Therapy Can Empower You).

This is often difficult for people who were traumatized to do on their own, so participating in experiential therapy is one way to learn to access and develop the self compassionate part (see my article: Understanding the Different Parts of Yourself).

One way to do Parts Work in experiential therapy is for the therapist to help the client, as an adult, to imagine looking at their younger self who was traumatized so the two parts can have a dialog with each other.

This dialog often involves the adult self asking the younger self what they need emotionally.  In other words, the adult self is in the role of a parent soothing the traumatized younger self.

Then, the adult self gives the child what they need, which is usually a hug or hearing that they're lovable and so on.  All of this is done in the client's imagination in experiential therapy.

Parts Work helps the younger part, who holds the trauma, to receive the loving and compassionate parenting they didn't receive earlier.  

This back and forth dialog also helps to weave together a more integrated experience as the traumatized younger self and the adult self heal together emotionally.

Imagining a Compassionate Other
If it's too difficult to access a self compassionate part, clients in experiential therapy can start by imagining how a compassionate or nurturing person might feel and behave towards their younger self. 

How to Become a Good Enough Parent to Yourself

They can imagine what that person might have said to them when they were children that would have felt loving and kind. Or, they can imagine the loving gestures that this compassionate person might have made to them that would have communicated how much they cared for them.

If someone can't think of anyone in their real life either from the past or from the present, they can imagine someone from a book, a story, a movie or some other imaginary person.

Whether this person is someone they know in real life or someone imaginary, this would be considered an internal resource in the form of an imaginal interweave in experiential therapy (see my article: Experiential Psychotherapy and the Mind-Body Connection: The Body Offers a Window Into the Unconscious Mind).

Talk Therapy Isn't Enough to Resolve Trauma
Regular talk therapy can be effective for many psychological problems, but it's usually not as effective as experiential therapy for trauma because it tends to be intellectual (see my article: Why Experiential Therapy is More Effective Than Talk Therapy to Resolve Trauma).

Clients who attend talk therapy can develop intellectual insight into their problems, but their problems often remain unresolved.

Experiential therapy, like EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, AEDP, hypnotherapy and Parts Work, use the mind-body connection to work through trauma.  

Experiential therapy helps clients to resolve trauma on an emotional level using the mind-body connection.  This is important because the resolution of trauma happens on an emotional level--not on an intellectual level.

Getting Help in Experiential Therapy
If you didn't get good enough parenting as a child, you can learn to reparent yourself in a nurturing way with the help of an experiential therapist.

A skilled experiential therapist can help you to access the internal resources you possess so that you can heal from your childhood trauma.

Rather than struggling on your own, seek help in experiential therapy so you can overcome trauma and live a more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.