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family therapy

How to Heal the Inner Child

Healing the Inner Child

By Jennifer McDougall

Your inner child is defined in popular psychology as an individual’s childlike subpersonality. This does not mean acting childish but rather connecting with the child within you that holds the original version of yourself. The inner child oftentimes conducts many aspects of one’s childhood. This includes happy moments, sadness, traumatic situations, and unresolved conflictions of an individual’s past. The term inner child was coined by Canadian psychoanalyst, Eric Berne. It’s a term often used in therapy to help people dig deep into their childhood to discover and heal the underlying conditions of their current struggles.

When you understand why you are the way you are, everything else in life becomes more clear. You should begin to understand why you react a certain way in particular situations, why you may have co-dependent relationships or a strong desire to latch on to people for a sense of belonging and security. This all stems from your inner child– she/he deserves and needs the healing she/he has been longing for.

How to Connect With Your Inner Child

  1. Close your eyes and visualize what you enjoyed as a child
  2. Write a letter to your much younger self expressing comfort, reassurance, and guidance
  3. Look at photos of yourself when you were a child
  4. Walk barefoot in the grass
  5. Go swimming during the day
  6. Share stories of your childhood with a trusted friend
  7. Distance yourself from toxic relationships to discover inward clarity
  8. Watch your favorite childhood movies to bring back tender memories
  9. Connect with a few childhood friends to remind you of what things were like “back in the day.”
  10. Visit your childhood home

If you are unsure if you have unresolved issues from your childhood, here are several signs:

  1. You have people-pleasing tendencies
  2. You feel more alive when you’re in conflict with others
  3. You feel guilty for standing up for yourself
  4. You have substance abuse-related issues
  5. You lack the courage to speak up for yourself due to the fear of rejection and ridicule
  6. You allow people to walk on and abuse you
  7. You work hard to overachieve
  8. You are generally afraid of people and try to avoid them at every cost
  9. You struggle to say “no”
  10. You feel depressed and lonely oftentimes
  11. You rarely trust anyone, including yourself
  12. You desperately seek validation or approval
  13. You feel afraid to do things alone
  14. You are extremely critical of yourself and others
  15. You quickly assume the worst in every situation
  16. You experience a great deal of anxiety around other people
  17. You’re afraid to be yourself – personal style, career, the car you drive, clothes you wear, friends you interact with and entertain
  18. You bottle up your emotions in fear of expressing yourself
  19. You date a certain type of person because that’s who you’re parents want you to be with
  20. You engage in sexual activity that you don’t actually want to do

Examples of Childhood Trauma

  1. Being struck, hit, or paddled, by your parents/grandparents/guardian (physical punishment)
  2. Experiencing an emotional unavaliable parent
  3. Not being fed or given a safe place to live
  4. Being called names by your parents or caretakers
  5. Child of divorce
  6. Any form of verbal, physical, or emotional abuse
  7. Involvement in a major car crash
  8. Witnessing the death of a loved one
  9. Being shown pornography as a child, or being the recipient of rape, molestation, any sexual contact (especially from a parent or relative)
  10. If your personal belongings were damaged intentionally by a parent or caretaker
  11. Abandonment (if your parent or caregiver ran out or left you alone for long periods of time without a babysitter)
  12. Being used to commit a crime
  13. Forced to relocate at a young age
  14. Witnessing or being the victim of a parent’s substance abuse

Many people experienced trauma as a child. It is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not your fault. We were born into this world assuming we would be cared for by a mother and father who could provide us with safety, security, guidance, and protection. Unfortunately, not everyone’s parents follow through on their responsibility to give us the proper tools we need for a healthy and stable upbringing. Many children find themselves neglected, abused, or abandoned.

Some cases are more extreme than others. Some people don’t realize how much abuse and neglect they endured as a child until they become an adult. This usually happens while an individual is seeking deeper meaning, healing, and inner-change.

There are many people who live day-to-day with a paralyzing fear; in discomfort and weight of unhappiness, they can’t quite cut the ties from. There are people who have healed from the past and are happy to share their experience of transformation. Where ever you are on your journey, keep going.

Let the Healing Begin

When you have connected with your inner child and have reached the point where you are ready to begin healing, here are some helpful tips to get started. Also, be sure to check out the guided meditation at the bottom of the blog for deeper healing.

  • Document a timeline of your childhood (0-9 months, 9 months-3 years, 3 years-6 years, 6 years-12 years) Include the language your parents and teachers used to interact with you, senses that stand out during each phase, major changes or events that happened during each phase
  • Write a letter TO and FROM your inner child
  • Meditate on positive affirmations (I will protect you against harm. I believe in you. You’re allowed to say no. It’s okay to speak up. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are enough. You have the courage to be yourself.)
  • Practice a visual meditation of meeting your childhood self. Sit in a quiet space for 20-30 minutes. Close your eyes. Imagine walking up to your childhood self and observe the feeling you get when you see yourself there. Visualize yourself playing and having a conversation with your younger self at your childhood home. Ask him/her questions about what’s happening in school, at home, with friends, any hopes or dreams of the future. Listen to the feedback your younger self tells you with an open heart and let it sink in a bit. Let him/her know that you are there to support, love, protect, and encourage him/her. As you process your interaction, pay close attention to every feeling that enters your body. Afterward, write down a page about your experience.
  • Take responsibility for your emotional-wellbeing by being your own protector and create healthy boundaries to keep toxic people at a distance.
  • Observe and respond, rather than immediately reacting. If something triggers you, makes you upset, or causes you to feel uneasy– observe how you feel, pause, take 3 deep breaths, and consider a thoughtful response without impulse.
  • Create a clear policy for yourself for what you will and will not accept from other people. Then train them on how to treat you with respect.
  • Schedule time with a professional therapist or life coach to work through deeply tribulated childhood trauma, such as what we offer at Passages Addiction Treatment Centers.
  • Daily journaling using shadow work prompts and soul reconstruction
  • Spiritual therapy such as what is offered at Passages Addiction Treatment Centers

How to Contact Passages Addiction Treatment Centers:

Call Passages Addiction Treatment Centers today if you or a loved one is battling an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Our admissions department is available 24/7 and can be reached directly by calling our toll-free number at (888) 397-0112. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Passages, Where Addiction Ends and Life Begins™

How Addiction Effects Other Family Members

How Addiction Affects the Entire Family

By Jennifer McDougall

Addiction takes a toll on the whole family. It can be hard watching someone you love self-destruct and bring harm to themselves as they divulge in substance abuse. Maybe you are experiencing something similar in your family. There’s no easy way to address these issues to someone is abusing drugs and alcohol because chances are they are in denial and refuse to admit there is any problem present, regardless of how obvious it is to you.

Growing up with an addicted family member can put a strain on family bonds, causing immense stress during the holidays and any other family get-togethers. One may even experience physical, mental, or emotional abuse from a loved one addicted to drugs and alcohol. Growing up under these conditions, no matter how old or how many years pass the trauma and pain lie there somewhere under the surface. It important to remain aware of the conditions in which you are living in and experiencing so that you can create boundaries from the effects brought on by addiction-related pain.

The important thing to remember is that this person or family member who is over-indulging or abusing drugs and alcohol is doing so because of their own underlying conditions and unresolved problems. This is not your fault and sometimes no matter how hard you try or what you do, the one suffering needs to be ready to be the treatment they need to fully recover from substance abuse.

If you have an addicted family member, you know the heartwrenching feeling of mistrust, betrayal, and a lack of confidence when it comes to relying on that individual.

Affects on Family Ties

  • Overall negative environment causing everyone around to feel weighed down and irritable
  • Increased stress for all members of the family
  • Broken communication adding to more arguments and disagreements
  • Cause of reversed roles (children becoming the caretakers of an addicted parent or family member)
  • Abusive situations that are brought on by substance abuse 
  • Financial troubles from bad spending habits, job loss, or poor judgment
  • Embarrassment for other family members dealing with an addicted parent, spouse or sibling
  • Conflicts between all family members and unresolved issues
  • Violence is a likely possibility when drugs or alcohol are present 
  • Cheating on a partner or spouse brought on from poor judgment
  • Increased heal problems in the addicted family member or even a non-addicted family member due to stress from the heartwrenching dynamics
  • Jealousy and resentment of other family members and friends 

Affects on the Children

  • Physical, emotional, mental, and sometimes even sexual abuse
  • Difficulties in intimate relationships later in life
  • They feel guilty or responsible for any issues related to the addicted parent
  • Exhibits general anxiety symptoms, social dysfunctions, insensitivity, PTSD, difficulties coping with stress, and impulsive behaviors 
  • Neediness along with emotional distance and unwillingness to connect to others on a deep on a meaningful level due to fear of rejection or any type of criticism
  • Insecurities when it comes to speaking or behaving amongst other people due to their trouble in understanding what normal is and is not
  • Low self-esteem and self-worth from years of feeling inadequate
  • Trouble trusting other people after one broken promise after another
  • Fear of abandonment due to an absent (emotionally and physically)  mother or father and greater tendency to lock onto unhealthy relationships to avoid being alone
  • The constant need for approval and usually become people pleasers
  • Physiological distress and depression
  • The deep desire for isolation and solitude away from other people especially other family members who they know and feel are toxic for their wellbeing and trigger them very frequently 
  • Self-harm and the indulgence of substance abuse themselves 

Also, read How to Talk to Your Loved One About Going to Rehab

How to Contact Passages Addiction Treatment Centers:

Call Passages Addiction Treatment Centers today if you or a loved one is battling an addiction to drugs and alcohol. Our admissions department is available 24/7 and can be reached directly by calling our toll-free number at (888) 397-0112. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Passages, Where Addiction Ends and Life Begins™

Effects of Addiction on the Family
Effects of Addiction on the Family

I’m Sober, but My Family Isn’t Supportive

By Jennifer McDougall


Getting sober is one of the best decisions you will ever make. But what if your friends and family aren’t very supportive and think that instead of getting sober you should drink or use in moderation? As heart shattering as this may be for you to feel little support from your loved ones, know that they are probably in denial or unaware of the real issue. Maybe they are unwilling to give up drugs and alcohol themselves. The thought of being sober to (most) people who drink in moderation is a tough one to swallow.

Being sober is very rewarding.  You must do it for yourself though, and don’t let anyone try and talk you out of it or downplay your problem. This is your life and you need to be responsible for making the best choices for your health and well-being. If your friends and family don’t agree, find truly supportive people to surround yourself with.

The truth is that your family probably does not know the extent to your drug and alcohol use. Maybe they do not understand the reasoning for your decision.  Now would be the time to sit them down and explain it to them so they fully understand what you’ve been through, why it’s important to not even have ONE drink, and that they need to respect and support your life choices. Many people don’t understand that having just one drink will only throw you back into the cycle of bad choices and back into your addiction.

It is important to stay focused and remember why you made this choice in the first place. Maybe you’re like me and you were tired of waking up on Saturday mornings not wanting to get out of bed, looking at the thread of text messages you sent out last night and feeling so shameful about all the terrible decisions you made. Or maybe it’s 8 a.m. and you still haven’t gone to sleep because you’re still partying from the night before.

There are many reasons most of us decide to get sober but the most common reason is because most of us are tired of living with our minds clouded by poison and our lives shattered by the consequences of our toxic induced decisions.

When discussing your sobriety with friends and family be clear and firm in what you are saying. It is okay if they do not fully understand, but let it be known that you will not be participating in consuming alcohol or using drugs – not even one sip of champagne on New Year’s Eve, one toast of wine on a friend’s birthday, or even a slice of rum cake at the holidays.  Your sober actions and new-found healthy lifestyle will eventually prove that living a 100% sober life 24/7 is the best choice you’ve ever made. Give your family a little time. They’ll eventually come around.


Call Passages Addiction Treatment Centers today if you or a loved one is battling an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Our admissions department is available 24/7 and can be reached directly by calling our toll-free number at (888) 397-0112. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Passages, Where Addiction Ends and Life Begins™

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Image via We Heart It.

Sex Addiction in the Public Eye and Media

Recently, it seems that whenever you turn on the television, radio, or browse the internet, there is a news story about a public figure seeking treatment for sex addiction or being involved in a sex-related scandal.  Sex addiction is a disorder that is present in all walks of life, but when a person with celebrity stature is involved in such behaviors it raises questions and sparks public curiosity.

Sexual addiction, sexual compulsivity or “hypersexuality” is defined as a condition where a person has an unusually intense sex drive, uncontrollable sexual urges, behaviors, or thoughts, making it difficult to work or engage in healthy personal relationships.  Sex addicts often rationalize, justify, or deny their behaviors and do not believe there is a problem present. Many celebrities, such as comedian Russell Brand, actor Michael Douglas, and golfer Tiger Woods have been involved in sex scandals and openly admitted to having a problem and sought professional treatment.  However, others such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and recently New York State Representative Anthony Weiner have been involved in scandals and so far kept quiet on the subject.

With all of these stories on the news, people are often left wondering, what is the difference between just downright bad behavior and sex addiction?  Are these men just simply calling themselves “addicts” and seeking treatment as a ploy to buy time and sympathy?

Although the diagnosis of sexual addiction is controversial due to the fact that it is not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, professionals in the addiction community do view it as a behavioral addiction with just as severe consequences as substance abuse disorders.  Individuals who have a true sexual addiction are often completely out of control and continue to engage in their behaviors despite obvious negative consequences (health, social, financial and emotional).  Generally, a person with a sex addiction gains little pleasure or satisfaction from their encounters and is unable to form any emotional bond with their partners.

Luckily, there is treatment available for this condition, which often consists of individual psychotherapy, marriage and family therapy, and various other treatment modalities at an inpatient rehab center like Passages Malibu.

Call Passages Addiction Treatment Centers today if you or a loved one is battling an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Our admissions department is available 24/7 and can be reached directly by calling our toll-free number at (888) 397-0112. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Image via We Heart It