Holistic Depth Psychotherapy - Nicole Ann Ditz, MA CMHC

Trauma and Treatment of the Inner Child

Dog's eyes

N Ditz

"What a distressing contrast
there is between
the radiant intelligence of the child
and the feeble mentality
of the average adult."

~ Sigmund Freud

What is the Inner Child?

One is gentle as a drop of dew, sensitive as a wide eyed infant, and wise as a simple sage. With hair the color of raw sugar mixed with slivers of ginger, her ears carry the scent of buttery toast. Her tail curls neatly like a loose bun above her rump, unless she is very afraid, in which case it does a swift back dive beneath her hind legs and trembles lightly as a feather. Sometimes she just sits poised in contemplation: a four legged Kwan Yin, goddess of compassion, her loam-dark eyes reaching deeper than the earth. Often, she showers me with kisses as tender as a seeker anointing the hands of a traveling saint while sacrificing her toys at the altar of her younger sister. Each time I arrive, clunky and spent, her petite body waves, a bright wand of wonder, transforming me once again into a miracle. Her name is Maggie May. She is what Jung might have called a representation of the archetypal Divine Child: an aspect of the child archetype evocative of devotion, innocence, trust, benevolence, higher wisdom, and redemptive grace.

The other is as sassy and exuberant as a bee drunk on honey. She is almost the color of moon glow: a hint of platinum blonde whipped together with a smattering of apricots and cream. Three parts spunk and five parts mischief, she greedily gobbles my oversized cookie while my back is turned. She is a 15 pound powerhouse of unabashed Self-Fullness with a tail held thick and low like a proud pony at a fair. She lives large and is curious about exploring every single pebble, weed, and stick. Her brave willfulness launches her from great heights to chase a day-glow orange ball while her fascination ferments with everything, even the rotting scents that gloat around the garbage can. Her name is Autumn Joy. She is my Magical Child: a facet of the child archetype representing optimism, adventure, determination, courage, playfulness, and whimsical imagination.


N Ditz

"She who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; her eyes are closed"

~ Albert Einstein

My dogs are cavapoos: a small companion mixed breed possessing neotenous babyish features and playful kidlike behaviors that endure as they mature into adults. They are extremely relational, trusting, affectionate, intelligent, sensitive, perceptive, and intuitive beings known for their "human-like" dispositions. For me, they are an intimate symbol of the substratum of the human psyche referred to figuratively in various analytic and contemporary psychological circles as the Inner Child. Furthermore, unlike actual human children who quickly accrue defensive and false personas in order to adjust to the demands of the world, these dogs seem to consistently retain and overtly express the pure nature of the child spirit throughout their entire lives. They are completely and unapologetically "at one" and present within the skins of their true selves.

The inner child is variously conceived as a human developmental actuality, a major sub-personality of a healthy psyche, and an often disowned energy pattern carrying the childlike imprint of our formative experiences: childhood memories, instincts, beliefs, feelings and motivations. Many contemporary psychotherapists now understand that healing and integrating one's genuine core or inner child parts into a conscious sense of self is crucial to both the development of self-esteem and authenticity as well as to the cultivation of a rich, fulfilling and authentic lifestyle. Internal Family Systems theory translates the notion of the inner child as being various immature psychic parts, discrete internal members of the natural multiplicity contained within a healthy personality, or young and vulnerable sub-selves. These Inner Child Parts are often unconscious and buried away as Exiles in the psyche due to shame and childhood trauma. The founders of the Voice Dialogue Method view the Inner Child as the "most precious subpersonality, the one closest to essence and the portal to the soul".

For Jungian therapists, the child-motif is a mythopoetic representation of the possibility of psychic unity, balance, transformation, growth, healing, rebirth, and the urge toward self-realization. The Child Archetype is a particular personification within the primordial dimension of the collective human psyche. Carl Jung envisioned this archetype to be a vital and living force eternally influencing and guiding the adult personality. The Child is a bio-psychological instinct within all human beings marked by vibrant aliveness, genuineness, vulnerability, connectedness, imagination, intuition, wonder, hope, wise innocence, and radiant enchantment. Common variants of the Jungian child archetype include such aspects as the Puer/Puella Eternis (eternal boy/girl), the Magical Child, the Abandoned/Orphaned Child, and the Divine Child. In my work with survivors of complex developmental trauma, I work intensively with many variations of the wounded child archetype.

A close parallel of the inner child in some contemporary psychoanalytic circles is the construct of the True Self or Real Self conceptualized as a unique, spontaneous, genuine core experience of self in a human being. This True Self is grounded in its own center of gravity and guidance. It is able to take initiative in acting on behalf of its own subjective needs, feelings, and values. The True Self can also relax into the flow of life. The Real Self can march to the beat of its own drummer while still being flexible enough to accommodate to certain functional and healthy expectations of society and relationships.

Nicole Ann Ditz, MA CMHC, Holistic Depth Psychotherapist

Voice Mail: (401) 573-6396  Email: info@holisticdepththerapy.com

Serving Rhode Island and Southeastern Connecticut