What is Inner Child Therapy?

Inner Child Therapy is an area of psychotherapy that has been developed over the last 50 years. Most people agree it’s leading proponents are Alice Miller, John Bradshaw and Penny Parks. Each one of these people has their own, stand-alone model or ‘brand’ of Inner Child Therapy, which they developed independently of each other. I use Penny Park’s model, Parks Inner Child Therapy (or PICT for short).

How Inner Child Therapy started

What these three different pioneers have in common is that they all started from the same place in the field of psychotherapy: from something called Transactional Analysis (or TA for short). From TA they developed their own unique therapy models, utilising the idea of everyone having three ‘inner parts’: a child, an adult and a parent part. They put into practice the concept that these parts could not only communicate with each other, but also could be communicated to by a third party (e.g. a therapist). In other words, channels of dialogue between the three parts and a therapist could be used to resolve a client’s childhood trauma, in turn fixing the client’s ‘today’ problems.

Miller, Bradshaw and Parks all started their own model of Inner Child Therapy initially as a form of self-recovery from past abuse. Over time, they each created different ways of helping people to resolve deep-rooted trauma and emotional problems using dialogue with the ‘inner child’ to do so. Whilst there are some similarities between each of their models, in the main they are not alike.

What is Parks Inner Child Therapy (PICT)?

PICT is an emerging therapy that is now becoming more recognised, as it can treat a wide range of trauma issues and emotional problems, such as stress, anxiety and depression. Originally developed by Penny Parks for survivors of abuse, PICT is a powerful, rapid therapy that removes the underlying cause of the problem, not just the surface symptoms. As a qualified PICT Practitioner I treat many clients who seek to move beyond coping, or managing day-to-day symptoms, to a permanent resolution of their problem. If you wish, you can listen to me talking about PICT on BBC Radio Oxford here…


How does PICT work?

PICT demonstrates that in childhood, we learn our core beliefs – about ourselves, about other people and about the world, before we are even old enough to know if that information is correct or not. We learn most of our core beliefs from our parents or significant carers. Depending on this parenting, some beliefs are positive (eg. I’m good at running) and some are negative, or limiting (e.g. I’m not good enough, I’m unlovable, there is no safety). In some families where parents are dysfunctional or have poor parenting skills these limiting beliefs can be numerous and become hard-wired into the child. I like to use the analogy that we almost build up a database or a hard-drive of these beliefs. And as we go through school, teenage years, into adult life, these beliefs play havoc as we react to the world around us, specifically by how the outside world relates against our internal belief system.

PICT works by targeting the limiting beliefs we have, by revisiting key childhood memories where these beliefs were first learned. So, as a Recognised PICT Practitioner I will work with my client’s ‘adult’ self (the conscious part of them) to establish a rapport with their ‘inner child’ (their unconscious part) to find and remove the limiting beliefs. We then use dialogue to give the inner child part appropriate information, love and support that may have been missing at the time of the memory. This allows change to take place. Limiting beliefs are then truly seen as mistaken ideas that were learned from unskilled or dysfunctional people (usually parents or carers); i.e. the limiting beliefs never belonged to my client, they belong to the parent, so they are not actually part of my client’s self and so we find new positive beliefs to replace them.

What does the “Inner Child” bit mean?

Obviously, there’s not literally an inner child inside each of us, it’s just a useful symbol to explain that part of our unconscious mind, or the child part of it, where our childhood memories reside.

Who is Penny Parks and how did she come up with PICT?

Penny Parks is an American who now lives in the UK, and is a survivor of childhood abuse herself. Penny created PICT gradually, since the late 1960s up to the present day, on her road to self-recovery. Penny realised that what she had come up with for herself was so powerful in gaining resolution that she ended up using it for clients when she worked in a crisis centre. Word spread and she found herself treating more and more survivors of abuse. In the end she wanted to start telling other therapists about PICT and so she wrote two books on it. Eventually, Penny decided to set up a training organisation and finally set up PICT as an recognised qualification for other therapists to attain. There are now over 900 PICT therapists in the UK.

Contact Damon to book your Free Consultation

If after reading this, you feel PICT is of interest to you, get in touch today on 07702 911787 for a FREE, no-obligation initial consultation.