Understanding and Healing Your Inner Child: A Comprehensive Guide

Jul 13, 2023

As children, we are vulnerable and impressionable, and our memories and experiences shape our beliefs, emotions, and behaviours. Our inner child is the part of us that holds onto these experiences and can influence our lives in profound ways. Understanding and healing your inner child can be a transformative experience that improves emotional well-being, better relationships, and a more fulfilling life. 


Thrive Counselling Vancouver can help you navigate this intricate process so that you can overcome your inner child’s wounds. We provide professional mental health therapy in Vancouver for various mental health issues, including inner child work.



What is an Inner Child?


The concept of the inner child isn’t merely a poetic metaphor. It refers to a psychological construct, a subconscious remnant of the child we once were. This inner child, formed and moulded by our early experiences, continues to exist within us, often influencing our reactions, behaviours, and emotional responses.


Like a physical child, the inner child can be healthy or wounded. It can express joy, curiosity, and innocence or carry the burden of trauma, disappointment, and unmet needs. Understanding and acknowledging this inner child is a vital step in self-discovery and emotional healing.



What is Inner Child Work?


Inner child work is a therapeutic process that involves communicating with, understanding, and healing your inner child. It’s a journey into your past, revisiting your childhood experiences, emotions, and memories. It involves understanding how these past elements influence your current life and then working towards resolving any unresolved issues, traumas, or unmet needs. Inner child work is about giving your inner child a voice and a space in your adult life. It’s about listening, understanding, accepting, and ultimately healing.



Why is Inner Child Work Important?


The significance of inner child work cannot be overstated. Many of the challenges we encounter as adults can often be traced back to our early experiences, our formative years. Our reactions, emotions, and behaviours in adulthood are frequently linked to these past experiences. Inner child work is essentially the process of unravelling the threads of our past to gain insight into our present. It allows us to examine these roots and core beliefs that shape our lives in ways we may not be aware of. We can start making profound changes by understanding our inner child. Inner-child work helps us revisit and understand inner-child wounds and lead to improved emotional health, better relationships, and a deeper sense of self-awareness.


Benefits of Inner Child Work


Primarily leading to improved emotional health, there are several other significant benefits associated with inner child work. It helps us address unresolved emotions and traumas from childhood. Reduces feelings of anxiety and depression, enhances our self-esteem and generally improves relationships and our emotional well-being.

  • Improved Self-Understanding: Inner child work allows you to understand yourself better- your motivations, fears, reactions and behaviours.
  • Better Relationships: Understanding your inner child can help you understand your relationship patterns. You can work on your fear of abandonment, trust issues, and early attachment trauma.
  • Healing from Trauma: It helps you heal from past traumas influencing your adult life.



Understanding Your Inner Child


Understanding your inner child is a journey of introspection, a voyage back to your earliest memories and experiences. It’s about reflecting on those experiences, understanding how they’ve shaped you, and acknowledging the emotional residue they might have left. This journey might not always be easy, but it’s necessary for healing.


Your inner child is essentially your emotional self. It’s that part of you that experienced joy, fear, love, and hurt as a child. As you age, these experiences don’t disappear; they’re stored in your subconscious and continue influencing your emotional responses. Understanding your inner child means understanding these influences and the reasons behind your emotions and behaviours.


1. Uncovering Childhood Trauma and Traumatic Events


Uncovering childhood trauma is essential to understanding your inner child. Trauma doesn’t have to mean catastrophic events. It can also refer to emotional experiences that were too overwhelming for your young self to process.


Such traumatic events might include neglect, abuse, losing a loved one, or any experience that left you feeling scared, helpless, or insecure. If left unaddressed, they can continue to impact your emotional health in adulthood. Uncovering these traumatic experiences helps you begin the healing process.


2. Examining Childhood Wounds


Childhood wounds often run deeper than we imagine. They’re not always the result of trauma. They can also stem from unmet needs – lack of love, validation, security, or acceptance.


These wounds might manifest as feelings of unworthiness, insecurity, fear, or rejection. Examining these wounds, their origins and their impacts can help heal your inner child. This process might involve revisiting painful memories, but remember, the goal is not to dwell in pain but to understand it, validate it, and eventually let it go.



Connecting With Your Inner Child


Connecting with your inner child is about fostering a relationship with that part of you that holds your childhood experiences and emotions. It’s about creating a dialogue with your inner child, listening to its fears, needs, and pains. Learn to comfort your inner child to offer it the love and care it may have lacked.


Connecting with your inner child is not about re-living the past or wallowing in past trauma. Instead, it’s about understanding the past, learning from it, and using those insights to nurture your present and future self.


Establishing a Safe Space for Healing and Exploration


Creating a safe space for your inner-child is crucial for this healing journey. This space could be a physical location, like a peaceful corner of your house, or a mental space of mindfulness and self-compassion.


Establishing a safe space allows you to feel your emotions without judgment. It’s where you validate your inner child’s experiences and assure that it’s safe, that it’s okay to express its feelings, and that it’s okay to be vulnerable.



How Can Inner Child Work Be Used?


Inner child work can be integrated into different types of therapeutic approaches. For instance, in cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), a therapist can understand the origin of negative thought patterns and how to change them. Psychodynamic therapy could be used to explore unconscious childhood memories that might be influencing current behaviour.


Moreover, inner child work is not just restricted to therapy. It can also be incorporated into personal development efforts. Journaling, meditating, creating art, or any form of self-expression can be used for connecting with your inner child.



What Is Inner Child Therapy and Who Is It For?


Inner child therapy is a therapeutic approach that focuses on addressing the inner child’s needs, wounds and emotions. It’s an integral part of many healing journeys, particularly for people who have experienced childhood trauma or neglect.


However, inner child therapy is not just for people with significant childhood trauma. It’s for anyone seeking to understand themselves better, to improve their emotional health, or to break free from destructive patterns. It’s for anyone looking to heal, grow, and live more authentically.


1. Understanding Your Pain


Understanding your pain is critical to inner child therapy. It’s about acknowledging the emotional wounds that your inner child has been carrying, possibly for many years. It’s about validating your past experiences and their impact on your life.

Understanding your pain doesn’t come overnight. It requires patience, self-compassion, and often professional help. Note that the goal of understanding your pain is not to dwell in it but to heal it.


2. Building Compassion


A crucial part of healing your inner child is learning to feel compassion for that inner child. Compassion involves understanding your inner child’s pain and responding with kindness and care. It’s about treating your inner child with the same love, respect, and understanding that you would offer a real child.

Building compassion for your inner child also means building compassion for your adult self. It means acknowledging your strengths, efforts and progress on this healing journey. It means recognizing that healing takes time and that it’s okay to take that time.


3. Connecting With Imagination and Creativity


One of the most beautiful aspects of your inner child is its connection to your imagination and creativity. Your inner-child is that part of you that loves to dream, explore, and create. It’s that part of you that finds joy in simple things and sees the world with wonder and curiosity.

Connecting with your inner child can help you reconnect with these aspects of yourself. It can help you bring more creativity, spontaneity, and joy into your life. Whether it’s through art, play, or simply allowing yourself to dream, connecting with your inner-child can be a wonderful journey of self-discovery and self-expression.



Taking Responsibility for Healing Your Inner Child


Healing your inner child is ultimately your responsibility. While therapists and loved ones can support you on this journey, healing comes from within. It comes from your willingness to face your past, feel your emotions, comfort your inner child, and make changes in your life.


Taking responsibility for your healing doesn’t mean blaming your past. It means acknowledging your power and your potential for change. It means recognizing that you have the strength, the courage, and the capacity to heal your inner-child and create a better future for yourself.



How to Heal Your Inner Child?


10 Ways To Heal Your Inner Child Infographic

The journey to heal your inner child is personal and may look different for everyone. Consider the following steps to heal your inner child.


1. Acknowledge your inner child


The first step towards healing is acknowledgement. Acknowledge the existence of your inner child and its experiences. Acknowledge its pain, its fears, and its needs. This acknowledgement is the first step towards understanding and healing.


2. Hug yourself daily


This might sound simple, but physical self-comfort can be very healing. A daily hug can serve as a physical reminder that you are there for your inner child, that you care about it, and that you are committed to its healing.


3. Picture a happy childhood moment


Remembering happy moments from your childhood can help your inner child feel safe and loved. It can also help you connect with the joyful, innocent aspects of your inner child.


4. Mirror work


Mirror work involves looking at yourself in the mirror and speaking positive affirmations to your reflection. This can be a powerful tool for building self-love and self-compassion, both crucial for healing your inner child.


5. Practice self-compassion


Be patient with yourself. Healing takes time, and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way. Remember, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about making progress.


6. Write a letter to your inner child


Writing a letter to your inner child can be a beautiful way of connecting with it. You can use this letter to express your love for your inner-child, validate its experiences, and reassure it that you are there for it.


7. Identify your emotional triggers


Emotional triggers can often be linked to past experiences. By identifying these triggers, you can understand your emotional responses better and learn how to manage them more healthily.


8. Make time for play


Remember, your inner child is still a child. It needs time to play, to explore, to be creative. Make sure to include some play time in your daily routine.


9. Inner infant meditation


This involves visualizing your inner child and sending it love and healing energy through meditation. This can be a powerful way of connecting with your inner-child on a deeper level.


10. Continue to educate yourself


Educate yourself about childhood development, emotional health, and inner-child work. The more you understand these topics, the better you will be equipped to support your inner child.



What Does Healing Your Inner Child Mean?


Healing your inner child means resolving the emotional wounds from your childhood so that they no longer hold power over your present and future. It builds a loving, supportive relationship with your inner child and allows you to live more authentically and fully. The goal of inner-child healing is to identify your needs, behaviours, and triggers and foster a deeper sense of self-compassion and support for your mental health.



What Causes a Wounded Inner Child?


A wounded inner child is often the result of unmet emotional needs in childhood. This could be due to neglect, abuse, or any experience that left the child feeling unsafe, unloved, or invalidated. It is important to note that not all childhood experiences lead to a wounded inner child. A variety of factors can cause a wounded inner-child, including:

  • Traumatic experiences during childhood, such as abuse, neglect, or abandonment
  • Emotional wounds that were not properly addressed or healed during childhood
  • Chronic rupture without repair, where a child cries out for help but is unheard by an emotionally unavailable caretaker
  • Parents or guardians who are emotionally unavailable, neglectful, or unable to create a safe environment for their children



Signs of a Wounded Inner-Child


Signs of a Wounded Inner Child Infographic

Signs of a wounded inner child can vary widely. It’s worth noting that not all wounded inner children experience the same symptoms or behaviours. Some common signs of a wounded inner child are listed below.

  • Persistent feelings of emptiness, helplessness, and hopelessness.
  • Difficulty connecting with others in healthy ways.
  • Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, addiction, eating disorders, and C-PTSD.
  • Physical conditions like migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia.
  • People-pleasing behaviour, trouble saying no, difficulty setting and enforcing boundaries.





The journey to healing your inner child may not always be easy, but it’s definitely worth it. It’s a journey of self-discovery, self-compassion, and self-growth that can lead to better emotional health, improved relationships, and a deeper connection with yourself. We are committed to supporting you on this journey. 


Our team of dedicated mental health professionals specializes in helping individuals understand and heal the unresolved issues from their childhood. Through one-on-one counselling sessions, our experienced therapists create a safe and nurturing environment where you can explore your inner child’s needs, fears, and wounds.


We believe in the power of inner-child work, and thus, we’re here to remind you that no matter what your inner child has been through, healing is possible, and you’re capable of it. Contact us today to book an Online Counselling Session or In-Person Session to begin your journey toward overcoming your wounded inner child.



Inner Child FAQs:



Can anyone benefit from inner child work, or is it only for those with significant childhood trauma?


Inner child work can benefit anyone, not just those with significant childhood trauma. It’s a powerful tool for self-discovery, self-improvement, and self-healing.


How to reconnect with your inner child?


Reconnecting with your inner child involves acknowledging its existence, validating its experiences, and meeting its emotional needs. This can be done through therapy, self-reflection, creative expression, play, and other forms of self-care.


How long does it take to heal the inner child?


The healing process varies for everyone and depends on several factors, including the depth of the wounds and the individual’s commitment to the healing process. It’s a journey, not a destination, and it’s important to be patient with yourself.


Is inner child work suitable for children or primarily for adults?


While inner-child work is often associated with adults, children can also benefit from age-appropriate methods of inner-child work, especially if they’re dealing with trauma or emotional challenges.


Can inner child work be done without therapy?


Inner-child work can be done independently. However, a therapist can provide valuable guidance and support, especially when dealing with deep-seated traumas or complex emotional issues.


What if I struggle to connect with my inner child during the healing process?


Struggling to connect with your inner child is not uncommon, especially in the early stages of the process. Be patient with yourself. Remember, it’s not about forcing a connection, it’s about creating a safe space for your inner child to express itself. If you continue to struggle, consider seeking support from a professional.


Can EMDR heal childhood trauma?


Yes, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is highly effective in treating childhood trauma. Childhood traumas, whether they are specific incidents or prolonged experiences such as neglect or abuse, can significantly influence an individual’s psychological development and emotional well-being into adulthood. EMDR targets the memories of these traumatic events, aiming to change the way they are stored in the brain. Through its structured approach involving bilateral stimulation (such as eye movements or tapping), EMDR facilitates the processing of traumatic memories, allowing them to be integrated into the individual’s memory in a less distressing way. A substantial body of research and clinical practice supports the effectiveness of EMDR in treating childhood trauma. Contact us for EMDR Therapy in Vancouver.


How do I heal my inner child at Christmas?


Healing your inner child during Christmas involves embracing self-compassion and revisiting the season’s joys through a childlike lens. This can mean indulging in activities you loved as a child, like baking cookies, watching your favourite holiday movies, or crafting. Acknowledging and comforting any past holiday-related hurts or disappointments is also important. Creating new, positive traditions and experiences can help overwrite negative memories. Practising mindfulness and gratitude and seeking support from loved ones or a therapist can also be beneficial. For more in-depth strategies on coping with emotional challenges during the holidays, our comprehensive post “Christmas Depression” provides valuable insights and tools to support your journey towards healing and joy.

Carson Kivari

Carson Kivari

Carson Kivari is the Founder and Clinic Director of Thrive Downtown, with years of experience helping individuals and couples overcome anxiety, depression, and burnout. He guides clients on a journey of self-exploration and trauma release to find purpose, connection, and safety. Take the first step towards healing and contact Carson today to schedule a session.

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