Regardless of what a client’s ‘presenting problem’ might be, I find that in order to effectively ‘fix’ the problem, we generally need to resolve underlying childhood issues that have created an emotional vulnerability for adult psychological problems and dysfunctional ‘life traps’ . For example, when treating depression, commonly, the underlying origins lie in this ‘childhood stuff’. Lack of neurotransmitter (such as serotonin) in the neuronal synapses is merely the ‘mechanism’ for depression, not the cause, so treatment with antidepressant medication aimed to restore neurotransmitter availability is merely providing symptom relief. To address non-endogenous depression successfully, (and to eliminate or reduce risk of future episodes) the client needs to be able to cope effectively with the ‘precipitating event’ (or ‘chronic depressogenic circumstances’ ) responsible for the current episode, and to be able to do that effectively, we need to address childhood stuff that has resulted in emotional vulnerability, dysfunctional attitudes, beliefs, patterns in thinking and behaviour and ineffective or maladaptive coping style.
If you are reading this, you may suspect or already be aware of what your ‘childhood stuff’ is and if you have been reading through the web site, may be aware of how the CAARP-ALIAS model is relevant to your situation. However, just being aware of links between childhood and adult problems does not automatically fix it. The good news is that all ‘learned’ stuff is amenable to change in rebuilding/rewiring/reprogramming emotional and cognitive foundations in the subconscious mind, by targeting the childhood origins.
Making these changes does not involve changing factual memories of events and circumstances. (Making such changes would involve brainwashing techniques that are way, way, way outside the scope of simple suggestions in hypnosis or complex therapeutic techniques in clinical hypnotherapy). However, this is not necessary since the ongoing problems being experienced associated with childhood events are not the events themselves or their memory, but the associated subjective elements of the experience (outlined in CES Definition and Contents).
If you are wondering why ‘childhood stuff’ can have subconscious influences on the adult even though you know it is no longer relevant – the answer is that the Child Ego State representing this ‘stuff’ exists in a ‘time warp’ and thinks that you are still living in those childhood circumstances so when you react to a trigger in the PRESENT, the CES thinks it is events in the PAST still happening. That is why to be effective, treatment needs to target the origins of ‘dysfunctional stuff’.
The illusion of ‘moving on’
If there was some crappy stuff in your childhood, perhaps you think that you have ‘put it behind you’ and ‘moved on’. However, when you ‘put it behind you’ and ‘move on’, you don’t actually leave that stuff behind – you take it with you - it just gets buried a bit deeper in your subconscious mind.
Perhaps you think that it is no longer relevant because you have ‘done work on it’ or have a ‘better relationship with that parent now’. Maybe so, but how effective has that work been? Has it accessed the subconscious mind? Does the relevant CES know you have a better relationship with that parent now? If you are reading this, perhaps there is something amiss in your subconscious mind that needs exploring – a CES being ‘denied a voice’ urging you to listen?
Do you have ‘repressed anger’?
How would you know if you had ‘repressed anger’ from childhood? If any of your emotional developmental needs were ‘violated’ by a parent when you were a child, you may have experienced hurt feelings and some degree of anger and sense of injustice, followed by ongoing resentment towards that parent. This ‘violation’ would not necessarily involve violence or abuse since most violations are unintentional, non-abusive and non-violent. This is because parents, even when caring and well-intentioned, are unaware of what kids’ emotional developmental needs are (plus they are being misled by social ideology and social policy on how to raise kids) so are unaware of how to meet these needs, when they are failing to meet them or even violating them.
If you did experience anger towards a parent as a child, then you would have ‘repressed’ it into your subconscious mind because you were dependent on your parents for care so could not tell them how you felt and had to conceal these feelings behind the mask that says “I’m ok”. If you ‘internalised’ this anger, you may not be consciously aware that it exists, although it can impact on your emotional wellbeing and put you at risk of so called ‘mental health’ issues (ultimately at risk of depression) and ‘self medicating’ with alcohol and/or so-called ‘recreational/party’ drugs. If you recognise that you have ‘anger issues’ or find yourself experiencing angry reactions to relatively trivial triggers, taking your anger out on others, property or pets, then the anger you are experiencing may be ‘externalising’ the ‘repressed’ childhood anger - rather than anger being actually in response to the current triggers. Do family members complain they have to ‘tread on eggshells’ around you? Has a friend or family member said to you, “You’ve got issues – get help”! If you become a ‘mean drunk’ or otherwise become nasty, aggressive or violent after consuming alcohol, then you are definitely harbouring ‘repressed’ anger from childhood.
If you recognise that you have ‘repressed’ anger, then don’t ‘live with it’ or settle for ‘managing’ it – get rid of it by resolving it – and that can be done with hypnotherapy to address it at its ‘origins’.
If you are interested in having hypnotherapy to address childhood issues and would like a clearer understanding of what this entails, read on:
Childhood ‘stuff’ creates emotional vulnerability that underpins or underlies adult psychological issues and dysfunctional life situations:
i) ‘unresolved emotional issues’ that have a direct subconscious link to the current problem
* feel unloved, unimportant, lack validation, abandonment, powerless, angry
(due to developmental child emotional needs being unmet or violated by parents)
ii) ‘risk factors’ have an indirect subconscious influence
* dysfunctional attitudes, perceptions, patterns of thinking and behaviour, self destructive or self sabotaging behaviour, ineffective/maladaptive coping style, negative self beliefs (poor Self Worth)
(that attract/create unhappy situations and ‘life traps’)
* learned behaviour from role models (value systems, social behaviour, coping styles).
Role of Child Ego States
This childhood ‘stuff’ is stored in Child Ego States in the subconscious mind so it is logical that this is where the focus is in achieving therapeutic change. There are numerous treatment modalities and any will be successful to the degree that they access the subconscious mind and bring about desired changes there, so my preferred approach is hypnotherapy and working directly with CESs because:
(i) what the adult feels and thinks depends on what the CESs feel and believe
(ii) so they are responsible for subconscious motivations
(iii) hence it is really the CESs that need healing and rewiring their programming
(iv) besides, CESs are the ideal vehicle for my CAARP-ALIAS model of child emotional development.
CES definition and contents
You are probably familiar with terms such as: ‘inner child’, ‘wounded child’, ‘angry child’ and ‘free child’.
Definition: A Child Ego State is the subconscious representation of significant childhood experiences of a specific event or ongoing circumstances. (They can be positive or negative experiences).
I suggest the contents of CESs represent the five subconscious steps outlined in the tables of the CAARP-ALIAS model:
Objective/historical facts -
I. Parent behaviour (what the parent says and does or doesn’t say and doesn’t do)
Subjective elements - (represent the child’s experience and become the basis of their subconscious beliefs).
II. Feelings elicited by parent behaviour (I feel loved, or unloved, hurt, angry)
III. Perceptions of what the parent behaviour meant (Mum loves me or Mum doesn’t love me)
IV. Implications for how the parent valued the child (Mum thinks I deserve love/not worth the effort)
V. Internalised value about self (I am worthy/unworthy of love. Self Worth - what we subconsciously believe we deserve in life).
Plus any additional related learned stuff that influences behaviour.
‘Perception’ as key
To achieve therapeutic change, it is the ‘subjective elements’ in a CES that need to be changed. Since ‘perception’ (III) is responsible for the direction of the original processing, then targeting the original perception is the key to achieving change, by use of techniques such as ‘reframe’. The reason for perception being amenable to change is that the perceptual system is designed in evolution to conduct quick assessments of environmental factors and make instant ‘life or death’ decisions - based on minimal or incomplete information. Your life could be at risk if you wait to make a decision to run or hide or shimmy up a tree, until you ‘have all the facts’ that confirm the danger is real! However, even in civilised society where there is not this need for constant life/death vigilance, the perceptual system continues to draw conclusions based on minimal information, mainly in regard to interpreting the behaviour of other people (ie ‘social’ survival).
There are two implications for this capacity of the perceptual system to make decisions based on minimal information: (i) the interpretations of people’s behaviour may be incorrect which means that the subsequent beliefs are false, and this is often the case with children’s perceptions of what a parent’s words and actions meant and subsequently, the implications for how the parents valued the child, which impacts on Self Worth; (ii) the perceptual system is open to receiving new, additional or alternative information, so when this new information results in changing the interpretation of a person’s behaviour (such as a parent when you were a child), subsequent beliefs and associated feelings can change accordingly - and that is a useful basis of therapy.
Role of CESs in therapy
The CESs that come to attention for therapy can represent a range of negative feelings (resulting from parenting received) such as: feeling unloved, alone, unwanted, hurt, rejected, unimportant, not good enough, anxiety, fear, unsafe, anger, resentment, injustice, betrayed, disempowered.
They may also represent dysfunctional beliefs and behaviours such as: poor sense of Self Worth, poor decision making, ineffective coping strategies, self-defeating or self-sabotaging behaviours, self-fulfilling dysfunctional beliefs.
These CESs are like ‘real people’ to work with since they represent a ‘real child’ with ‘real needs’, so essentially, what these CESs need is to be comforted, to have assurance they are worthy of being loved and kept safe. Importantly, a CES needs to be permitted to have a ‘voice’ because the child has felt they could not ‘speak up’ to their parent since this could risk withdrawal of affection, neglect, punishment or even abandonment.
Communicating directly with CESs in therapy provides them with the ‘voice’ they need in order to heal. This is particularly important when there is anger due to the child’s emotional developmental needs being violated. When the child has been subjected to violence or some other form of abuse where they felt betrayed and experienced loss of control, they need a ‘voice’ to confront the parent (actually, this is a visualised representation of the parent while in hypnosis) and to be able to ‘take back their power’. This is achieved without any actual contact with the perpetrator, which is just as well, because often, by the time an adult seeks therapy, the abusive parent has passed away so actual confrontation would not be possible.
Principles of treatment
Since CESs that come to attention for therapy will represent emotional needs that have been unmet or violated by parents (as per the CAARP-ALIAS model), the treatment will be to address these emotional needs by changing the subjective elements from negative to positive (outlined in CES Definition and Contents). Hence, the principles of treatment are based on this model.
I refer to my treatment approach as: CAARP-ALIAS Child Ego States Therapy
This is an application of commonly used techniques targeting CESs to resolve ‘problems’ and rebuild emotional/cognitive foundations by addressing unmet and violated emotional needs, changing negative self-beliefs and related ‘dysfunction’.
If you have not had any prior experience of hypnosis or meditation - or your views have been shaped or distorted by stage hypnosis – you may have some questions about the process – if so, then check out ‘FAQs’ on: http://www.isabellaparkerhypnotherapy.com.au.
Only a lightly relaxed state is required because clients will be required to speak to the therapist, relaying what is happening with the CES once contact has been achieved. Making contact with a CES is simple and does not require anything complicated such as ‘regressing to childhood’ since the CESs actually exist in the PRESENT so are easy to contact in the present. The main process involves the client visualising/imagining communications between self, CESs and where required, a visualised image of a parent.
Parent-child conflict resolution
The CES needs to have the opportunity to have a ‘voice’ to tell the parent (visualised image) how they were affected by what the parent did or said or didn’t do or didn’t say so they can have the opportunity to achieve resolution. Since the child’s beliefs are based on perception, quite often, they may not be an accurate representation of what parents actually think or feel about the child. Children want to believe they are valued by their parents, (even as adults), and likewise the CESs, so resolution may be reasonably easy to achieve, particularly when the visualised image of the parent spontaneously expresses surprise and remorse.
Along the way, the adult may have acquired greater understanding of their parents (particularly if they have become parents), so come to the realisation that they were loved as children. However, this awareness may not have filtered down to the CES in the subconscious so in therapy, that CES (locked in a ‘time warp’) needs to be ‘brought up to date’.
Where there is anger for parental neglect, harm, abuse or violence, the ‘wounded’ or ‘angry child’ needs to be given a ‘voice’ to confront the parent (in visualisation) and the opportunity to ‘take back their power’. The client is not required to re-experience abusive experiences since the aim is for the ‘child’ to confront the parent from a position of power.
An important step in completion of the resolution is ‘re-parenting’ of the treated CES by the client. This involves the client imagining embracing the CES, giving comfort, being nurturing, giving assurances of the child’s worthiness to be loved, taken care of and protected from all harm. The client takes on the role of a ‘parent figure’, meeting all the CAARP-ALIAS emotional needs that were previously unmet or violated by an actual parent.
Therapeutic changes need to be reinforced. Initial reinforcement and addressing subsequent issues that may arise is carried out in follow up sessions with the hypnotherapist. Neuroscience has demonstrated that rewiring neural pathways requires holding a new thought for a minute each day for a period of several weeks or months. Hence, I believe that the most effective reinforcement is achieved by the client carrying out a program consisting of what really is ‘ongoing re-parenting’, ie meeting the emotional needs so the CES feels loved, important - building the client’s healthy sense of Self Worth . Remember, what the adult feels and thinks depends on what the CESs feel and believe! The ultimate goal in any therapy is for the client to feel empowered and have a healthy sense of Self Worth which can only be achieved by creating the changes in the subconscious mind.