Working with Inner Child in Emotional-Image Therapy

World Journal «Psychotherapy» 2009, №1 (2), pp. 39—45

Nikolay D.Linde, Prof., PhD (Psychology), Professor of Moscow Humanitarian University, member of Board of Psychology and Acmeology, Moscow State Humanitarian University, member of Professional Psychotherapeutic League, Moscow, Russia. E-mail:

Article describes new resources of Emotional-Image Therapy in correction the problems related to deviations in Ego-states of Inner Child. Certain problems are mentioned which could have easier-to- find solutions with this method used. Examples based on author’s experience, are given alongside with methods which are used by the author in order to achieve quick and stable results.

Keywords: Inner Child, Emotional-Image Therapy.

”Inner Child” (IC) is a definition got from the theory of the transaction analysis by E. Berne [1]. Every person in any moment of his/her life is being in Parent, Adult and Child simultaneously and this is how he/she behaves with the other people. But Inner Child is the child which represents the person himself/herself. This child is invisible, but expressing the basic problems of self personalization. IC might be either happy or unhappy, depending on its personality’s attitude, and vice versa, what is its attitude towards personality, and what is its attitude towards itself. Also very important here is the attitude of the IC to itself. It’s emotional attitude of IC which presumes the basic emotional tone of personality, feeling of happiness or depression, self confidence or inutility, etc. IC might revenge the personality for something unknown, give it luck or failure, lead it to certain way of life and predefine choice of job, friends, spouse or attitude to person’s own children.

IC’s condition is predetermined of the certain conditions in the person’s childhood. The most important thing is what was the parents’ attitude to the child, what were verbal and non-verbal “instructions” he/she got from them, how they were interpreted by the child; what decisions had been made based on these “instructions”. Once established, the state remains in adults “by default” and an adult normally does not realize, how these states are being the cause of his chronic emotions, patterns of behavior and life strategy. IC preserves basic means of adaptation, which were chosen by the person in his childhood and is responsible for basic goals and grounds.

Now I would like to say a few words about the method itself. Emotional-Image Therapy (EIT) is comparatively new branch in psychotherapy, which has been developed by the author since 1990; it has a lot in common with gestalt therapy, and symbol drama, but at the same time it has its own features and peculiarities, which help to quick and effective problem solving. It seems that what the most important for this therapy is, its relationship between actual emotions and its verbiage. For this, a client is suggested to describe his/her experiences in problem situation, to find its physical correlations (where and how he/she feels it in the body), after which the client is suggested to imagine how do these feelings look like, as if they were on the chair in front of the client or inside his/her body. The client is also recommended to think spontaneously, like” say what first comes to your mind”.

It turned out that images (mostly visual, but sometimes audio, kinesthetic and osmotic) in this case contain a lot of additional information about the client’s problem. They are composed unconsciously, as images in dreams which are the objects of thorough interpretations of Sigmund Freud [2]. Also, based on client’s images, it is possible not only to analyze the process, but also to promote the correction of the basic problem by using different means of interaction between the client and the images, as if those images are real features. We can say that it’s a method of the direct dialog with unconscious.

Problem solving should not be performed automatically, but be relevant to genuine status of the revealed emotional conflict. Some problems, analyzed by EIT method, have a lot in common with problems raised in S. Freud‘s works, the others are more likely correlate with A. Adler’s theory [3, 4]; some might be described in terms of E. Berne’s transaction analysis [5]. In all the cases V. Raykh’s [6, 7] theories about blocking emotions with the help of muscular tensions are confirmed alongside with other theories.

In this article we would like to describe the effects received in combination of EIT method with theoretical basics of transaction analysis on Inner Child’s condition. There are a lot of psychologists, who have very vague idea of what this IC is. Everybody can talk about IC, but nobody can ‘try’ it. IC can’t be observed, it appears only in case when the client turns in the status of IC (in terms of psychoanalysis it is called regression) and expresses childish reactions and feelings. With EIT method the IC is more vivid, it is possible to have dialog with it and to establish new relationships, to solve its emotional problems, as if it is real individual, being at the same time integrated part of the client. In our practice it’s rather part of personality than Ego-state, but this contradiction with E. Berne’s theory is not an argument to be discussed in this article.

Our long-time experience with such cases makes it possible for us to make some conclusions and give a hint to other practicing psychologists’ solutions on many problems, which sometimes look like dead-end type.

That’s why we are going to describe some basic statements of EIT in working with IC and will recommend some methods for solving standard situations, using examples from our own practice.

We think it’s worth while to start with an example which will give an opportunity to make some conclusions and to indicate some important technical features of the job.

Ex. 1 “Disgusting Rat”

During the workshop a student asked for help in solving her problem. She complained of feeling powerless, apathy, but her major symptom was “stomach fear”. She had very unpleasant feelings in her stomach, like tension, which became worse when somebody tried to touch her, even if it was her boyfriend. She tried to combat with this feeling, and even made piercing on her bellybutton, but nothing worked. She also suffered of the thought that in future she will not be able to give birth (she was 20 years old, single). Let’s say her name was Katya.

I suggested that she pictured the image of this “stomach fear” on the chair in front of her. The answer was, it was disgusting dirty rat with a long tale. The rat wanted to eat something inside Katya’s stomach.

N.L.: Ask the rat, why is it doing it?

K.: For me not to exist at all…

N.L.: Why is it needed that you do not exist?

K.: It just wants me not to exist…

N.L. Why?

K.: Because I am odd, needless…

Comment. It is obvious, that the ‘rat’ is symbolizing the hidden attitude of the girl to herself. Very often such feelings appear under the influence of parent’s words or actions. In this case it is just a matter of learning how it had happened…

N.L.: Tell me, when and why did you start feeling yourself needless?

K.: Always. My parents didn’t want me to be born. I was an unexpected child and mom was going to make an abortion. I was the last child; they already had kids, and didn’t want more. And it was hard times; they were in lack of money. Although later, everybody loved me, and they do love me now, both mom and dad. But still, I am always trying to please them, as if to get authorization for living.

N.L.: (Addressing to the students’ auditorium). In theory it is called “Myth of Birth” and I’ve told you about it during my lectures. A child feels guilt for its birth “not in proper times’, or for “wrong birth”, which causes depression and suicidal attempts. Actually, Katya already expressed her desire not to exist…

K.: I am sorry to say, but it is true. And I realize that it’s bad idea.

N.L.: Would you like to get rid of this auto-aggression which is corporified in the image of the rat?

K.: Of course, I do. But I don’t know how…

N.L.: So, why not you tell the rat that you are not going to destroy, kick out, and deny it. Tell her that it is nice, that you adapt her being like it is; tell her that you need it.

Comment. By this time it became obvious that the rat symbolized an image of two Katya’s crucial problems. First, the fact that the rat was disgusting, presumed that the girl had negative feelings against herself, she felt that she was ‘odd and needless’. At the same time, the rat was a symbol of IC living in girl’s body. Second, what this rat was doing in Katya’s stomach was it was destroying it, making abortion (which is what her mother didn’t do); it was direct conveyance. It was obvious that Katya’s fear to be infertile started here. As far as the basic problem here was self denial, the goal was to overcome this emotional fixation. That was very important, but I didn’t want to go into details, for the sake of not losing the temper and causing her reluctance. In Katya’s mind, it was a ‘rat’, which hated her, that was why she was not reluctant to express her warm feelings to the ‘rat’, but what happened in reality was that by doing it Katya adapted herself back, returning to herself the feeling of necessity.

K.: Should I say it aloud or silently?

N.L. Silently would be better…. But tell me what happens to the rat while you telling it all that?

K.: (Working hard for several minutes). The rat is getting smaller.

N.L. How do you feel? Do you feel worse or better? How is your stomach?

K.: I am getting better…

N.L. Then keep saying it what you are saying…

K.: (After some internal work). Now it’s a puppy, not the rat.

N.L.: Do you like it?

K.: It’s cute.

N.L.: O! Your eyes are shining! How you feeling?

K.: (With embarrassing, but happy smile). I am fine. Somehow I even feel hot, as if some heat penetrated in me.

Comment. It’s her warm attitude to herself getting back to her, and she can feel it even on physiological level.

N.L.: Do you like this puppy? Do you want to adapt it forever as a part of your personality?

K.: Yes, of course!!!

N.L.: What do you feel in your stomach?

K.: Everything is fine! No tension at all. Warm feelings.

N.L.: Imagine somebody touching your belly, e.g. your boyfriend…

Comment. It’s a follow up of the changes occurred, using the supposed critical situation.

K.: (Shy). Everything is fine, no negative emotions or feelings.

N.L.: Do you want to keep these changes forever?

K.: Of course, I do

Comment. Client’s positive attitude is a sincere consentience for the results. Now it is possible to give explanations, it will not cause resistance.

N.L.: Now I would like to explain what had happened to you. The fact that you felt lonely and needless in your childhood caused the denial of your Inner Child. The Child automatically started the unconscious program on self destruction, aka abortion. That is why the child turned into the horrible aggressive rat, which was attacking your stomach, and the stomach reflexively became tense. This was the reason why you started to doubt that you might be fertile in future. Now, when you adapted your Child, and it became your friend, your auto aggressiveness was cancelled, your belly became normal. It’s it…

If you have any questions or if you doubt in the results, I am ready to proceed…

K.: No, I understand everything. I am feeling good, and I know that in future everything will be okay…. I’ve once consulted with the other therapist, and was very disappointed. Thanks a lot; I couldn’t even imagine that this might be possible.

N.L.: Great, the session is over.

In about two weeks I’ve asked her how she was feeling and she said everything was okay.

Comment. The session lasted for 15-20 minutes, and within these time frame the stonewall problem of Katya’s life had been solved. Her problem was self rejection, although she knew that her parents loved her, that’s why there was no need to work with her past life from the standpoint of her parents’ attitude to her. This approach would have made the work more sophisticated and would make changes in Katya’s emotional world more complicated, if even possible at all.

Several conclusions can be made out of this session (confirmed by other cases).

1. Image of IC appears spontaneously, as a response to request to imagine the discussed feeling. We never say:” Imagine your Inner Child!” IC state is often expressed in a symbolic form, which corresponds with emotional attitude of the client to himself/herself as a child.

2. Actions of IC correspond with childish decisions of the client, and his/her emotions are reactions on these decisions. “The rat” made abortion, and the girl felt fear in her stomach.

“Bad’ Child has bad behavior, and causes problems to individual him/herself.

3. Image behaves as a human being and changes, depending on mental activities of the client and of feelings, expressed by the client.

4. “Correct” changes in the client’s attitude towards himself/herself as a child lead to positive changes of IC’s image, and by these changes it becomes possible to trace the results of therapy.

5. The psychosomatic status of the client reflects situation when the IC becomes “nice” ; all negative symptoms fade being substituted by vivid positive experiences, which can be expressed by the word ‘happiness’. Results of the therapy are visible immediately.

6. If follow- up of the supposed critical situation confirms positive result, you may be sure that the session is a success.

7. The main goal of the session is that a client should become a good parent to himself/herself. In EIT it is achieved by paradoxical expressing nice feelings to “attacking” child.

Let us have a look at another example with similar basics.

Example 2. “Hoodoo”

Male, 40 years old asked for consultation. He believed that he was under hoodoo. He has been treated by several psychics spending a lot of money with no positive results. I’ve asked him how he felt he was under hoodoo. The answer was: ‘It is torturing me; it’s tearing my chest into pieces…” “What does it look like?” “It’s a horrible dragon, with huge teeth and claws, it is torturing me…” “Just do what I am saying, and I’ll explain everything later. Simply put your hand on the dragon’s head, pat it and say: “I know you are nice!”

A client did what he was recommended to and was very surprised saying that the dragon started crying! He was recommended to keep patting the dragon and to repeat saying to him that he was nice. In some short time the dragon transformed into a small child… It turned that the client had always felt that his mother didn’t love him. He even had asked her several years ago: “Mother, why didn’t you ever love me?” The answer was “I am sorry; son, but nobody loved me in my childhood. My heart turned into ice and I was just unable to love you.” This was what he got from her…

I explained to him that the dragon was his Inner Child, which was suffering itself, and this was why it tortured the man. The client was supposed to start loving this child, to take care of him, to become a real parent for him. When he did it, his hoodoo vanished, moreover, he felt “dizziness of happiness” and ‘flew away’. However, of course, the work with him was not over, the client had to show up several more times, and the work went on. It’s not always that one session is enough for this work with IC, usually it needs several sessions and very thorough work, although the reason of suffering is very simple: a mother, who didn’t love in childhood. It is very difficult to correct this situation; and it’s much easier to visit psychic than to touch basics with such painful emotions. Moreover, the person normally does not realize that his/her sufferings are due to the emotional state of his/her IC, although it is almost obvious.

IC might appear in the image of a sun, a pussycat, a hobgoblin, a broken doll, a jellyfish, a pirate, a dragon, a big soft stone, etc. It might be even the image of big wooden bobbin with a thick rope spooled! When the rope was unspoiled, and a bobbin received the energy, the bobbin turned into Pinocchio, and then into a child, and then into a client himself. As it turned out later, the rope was the symbol of the client, being wrapped up by his father’s authoritarian rising. As a result, the child was humiliated and “got stiffed”. It is a real issue of how to recognize that this or that image symbolizes an IC, and nothing else.

1. Image, which symbolizes the IC, has the same features of character, behavior and emotions as kids normally have.

2. Normally, it radiates energy, introversions and vigilance. It might be suffering when its energy is suppressed (usually it might be its parents who are doing it), but in all the cases it is a key point of all the problems discussed.

3. The goals to be ‘achieved’ by the image are irrational and correspond with typical childish needs and adaptations. E.g., it might seek for one’s attention or might be angry due to the lack of love, might be asocial, mechanical, isolated, offended, etc.

4. In order to reveal the true nature of the problem, the therapist must do some investigation and ask questions. The response will be in the name of the image. Various actions towards the image (e.g. stroking), alongside with relevant words, cause transformations in the image, and produce reactions which reveal its genuine essence. The client also can be suggested to switch the chairs with an image and speak about its feelings and emotions in its name.

Let us explain these concepts with two more examples.

Example 3. “The Rocks and the Sun”.

During the workshop, a student complained on suffering of severe headaches since she was an 8-year student. Since she learned about EIT, she and her friend decided to get rid of this headache using this method. The student imagined her brain and it seemed to her it was colored in black. By her friend’s advice, she started to repaint it in different colors. Being a mechanical approach to the problem, it was absolutely unsuccessful. While telling this story, a student still suffered of a headache.

Giggling at the innocence of the girl, I have proposed the girl to describe her headache. She said that it was something that tried “to break out” of the head, it looked like a rock, which wanted to crash out of the head and then to split into two parts. This image itself gave me the important information, as rock being a symbol of an authoritarian parent.

Following my advice, the girl allowed the rock to get out from her head. When she did, the rock divided into two parts. Giving no explanations, I suggested that the girl imagines something that is compressed by these rocks. The image was the little sun, which of course symbolized a little child. I asked the student to give as much energy to this sun as possible (method on enforcing the energy). After she gave this sun all energy she could, the two parts of the rock had completely moved apart, and then melted away, while the sun started to shine brightly. Girl’s eyes were also shining brightly, and she was surprised to confirm that she got rid of the headache.

Then I assumed that when she was an 8-year student, her parents started to scourge on her. The girl confirmed it was true, because it was time when her father passed away, (she was still missing him), and her mother and grandmother were both treating her strictly, for her to behave modestly. It became clear now why the rock had had two heads: it were the girl’s mother and grandmother.

Example 4. “Mischievous Devilkin”

This session took place during gestalt therapy séance. A young woman complained of severe allergy to cold. Her eyes and nose were itching; she was sneezing all the time with her eyes always getting red.

I suggested that she should recall these feelings (which didn’t occur in warm room), and imagine that they were sitting on the chair in front of her. I asked her “How did those feelings look like? Say first that comes to your mind…”

She started laughing and said that it was a small devilkin, which was tickling her inside her nose. It was doing it because it wanted to be played with, to be paid attention. It was obvious that it was her Inner Child, who wanted to play. The problem was that somehow she felt that it was “bad “devilkin. It was obvious that in her childhood she was not allowed to be a child as it was. She always was a serious ‘good girl’, she was not supposed to play as all the kids did, and she had to ‘do right things’. She even never bedraggled her dress in her childhood. She was still thinking that adults were always legitimate and affirmative people and children were always the ‘wrong ‘ones. That was the reason why she repressed her mischievous devilkin out of her consciousness.

Of course, I suggested that she adapts this mischievous devilkin, plays with it, and allows it to play as long as it wants to… It was very hard for her to do it. She felt that she was not allowed to play. Her parents’ instructions prohibited her from doing it. We “loaded” these instructions on the chair. Client’s right leg was “somehow” tugging, but she reined it her left leg. I asked her, what her right leg wanted to do. She said it was indecent… It took her a while to dare to boot the chair with all the parents’ taboos on it! Only after doing it she managed to get friends with the devilkin and to start playing with it. Immediately something happened with her nose, as if heat was flowing in it from somewhere, and it was so pleasant…

Let us formulate several more conceptions:

5. IC not always appears in the form of a symbol; it is very often that a client imagines a child as it is straight away and realizes that it’s him/her. E.g., a man saw an 18- month’s naked child whose body was red; the baby was extremely angry. He was angry with the man because he was not loved “due to him”. By psychotherapist’s advice, a man allowed his IC to express his anger, and then listened to him attentively; when the IC finished, the client’s body color returned back to normal. The man hugged the child and adopted him as a part of his personality. Immediately his diaphragm (where all his anger had been stored) relaxed, and his stomach started moving rhythmically. (See also an article on the phobias correction, and a case with Metro phobia [6]).

6. During a long-term work images of IC may appear again and again, and every time they will be different, as they will express different types of child’s problems, different traumas and means of adaptation.

7. Age of the imagined child coincides with the age of the client in which he/she had got the trauma, crucial for that moment. E.g., a young girl sees a three years old sad girl, and it turns that when she was three years old, her farther had left the family.

8. It should be differentiation between the client imagining not an IC, but a different child. E.g., a single woman can imagine a child who had died, or a child which she had failed to have, etc. This image can be differentiated from the IC by the fact that the client does not accept him as a part of his/her personality, and the fact that it is not the image which is suffering, getting angered, etc., but a client himself/herself worries about the image. In this case the real life circumstances related to these emotions should be investigated.

Please find an example of such a case.

Example 5. “Child-Man”.

During master class session a girl complained of the stomach pain. The image of the pain was absolutely unexpected – it was a baby child! It was calm, healthy, and indifferent; and definitely couldn’t cause any pain. It obviously couldn’t be an IC…. There were a lot of hypotheses, but in order to reveal the latent meaning of the image, I’ve suggested that the girl tells this baby that she allows it to show all its hidden potential. The girl stepped back in horror as the baby turned into huge angry man with red eyes and long claws!”

Then I guessed that she probably might have a conflict with some man. When asked, the girl confirmed that some middle age man fell in love with her. She didn’t want these relationships but was afraid of saying ‘no’, as she was work-subordinated to him.

I recommended her to imagine how she talks to this man (it was imagination, so it couldn’t make any harm). She was clear and straight in explaining her feelings to this image. The result was that the man’s eyes turned into normal color, claws vanished and the man got off. The girl said she now was ready to talk to the real man. And her pain immediately dissolved!

In two weeks she told me that she did spoke to that man in reality and he managed to understand her reasons with no negative consequences for her.

This story makes it clear that the very careful attention should be paid to the real meaning of the image, and the image by no means can not be accepted it ‘as it is”.

Another question is how to change the emotional stereotype of Inner Child, if it is causing symptoms which are undesirable for the client.

There are a lot of methods which can be used in this case; but here is the basic one:

The client is recommended to express kind feelings to the image, to pet it and to say the words which are absolutely opposite to those instructions, which caused the initial problem. E.g., a client is suggested to tell the IC that he/she will never deny it, isolate, criticize, humiliate, etc. He/she is also recommended to tell the IC that now it is allowed to be confident, strong, loved, successful, etc. The client might be recommended to take responsibility for healthcare, happiness and successfulness of the child, to care for it, even to become its caring parent.

It is prohibited to feel compassion, because this feeling is correlated to the child’s blackmailing feelings. The more compassion, the unhappier the image of IC will become, and the client will follow this path and become unhappy himself/herself. It’s against the temptation, but the client should be clearly instructed to stop feeling compassion to ‘poor’ image, and instead to allow it to become healthy, strong and self-sufficient.

It also might be worthwhile to give the IC chance to express its overwhelming negative feelings, and merely listen to all complains.

In some cases it also will benefit if the client becomes aware, that it is his/her internal child and it is the client himself/herself making the life so unbearable. Parents, whose influence on the child was crucial in childhood, now have no influence on the client at all. It helps to sincerely cancel the negative attitude towards IC and to avoid needless childish adaptations (e.g. self isolation).

Several other approaches could be used in such cases, including reinforcement of energy, paradoxical solution, anti- indication, etc. ([9]).

Next question is: what type of psychological problems is the most relevant for the IC issue?

There is a Russian saying “We all get started in our childhood…”That is why the problem of IC can be frequently encountered in depressions, phobias, in obsessive disorders, in psychosomatic diseases, with alcohol and narcotics addictions, etc. It can be found in almost every psychological disorder. Practical psychologist can face this problem in working with almost every client, although it may be not so critical in clients with post-traumatic syndrome, rape, grief, loss, etc.

By using IC and EIT method, the psychotherapist can solve a lot of ‘everyday’ and ‘applied’ issues which would demand great efforts if being solved by other means. A good example of this can be a problem typical for millions of parents and students: “I can’t force myself studying”…

Actually this problem is based on the conflict between the Inner Child and the Inner Parent. In childhood a kid was forced to prepare the homework, and it was unpleasant. So, the standard method of adaptation was developed by the child to resist the parents’ enforcement. Let’s call it “Delay”. Now the client is not a child any longer and is responsible for his own studies. He complains: “I pull myself to the desk to start studies, but the more efforts I make, the further I am from the desk! Finally I start preparing for the exam the night before it… I learn all night, and the next day when I am supposed to pass the exam, I have severe headache, and as a result I get C… What can I do with it?” What happens is he splits himself up in repressive Parent and stubborn Child and acts as the fantastic beast with 2 heads. He is wasting more time for forcing himself into working rather than working itself.

The remedy of choice for solving this problem by EIT method is simple, although paradoxical. First, the client is suggested to imagine the part of his personality which does not want to study, aka IC. Then…

– O, it’s Masha who is laying on the couch with her headphones on, she is listening to the cool music… She sips Jin& Tonic, smokes a slim cigarette and wants to do nothing!

– OK, could you please tell her: “Masha, you are more then welcomed to spend as much on the coach, as you want”? You can keep listen to the music, sip Jin& Tonic, smoke cigarettes, and what not. You are allowed to do all this”.

– No, no way! I can’t do it!

– Just for experiment, let’s see what might happen…

– Do you want me to say it loudly?

– Better do it silently, but it is up to you… But please tell me what happens to Masha.

– (Working hard). O, it’s impossible! (Laughing). She jumped from the coach, gets rid of headphones, pours Jin & Tonic into the sink, stops smoking and rushed to the desk to study! No, I can’t understand what’s going on…

So, the first step is when the client stops pushing him/herself, and allows the IC to do what it wants to do, and not to do what it doesn’t want to. Paradoxical result is that the child starts working or studying, only if he/she gets sincere permission to stand against (because child’s stubbornness is just his way to stand against parents’ rising).

After (and only after) the released child starts to behave adequately, which is in this case to study, the psychotherapist should start working with the image of the internal parent, who used to criticize the child and force him to study. This parent is recommended to get rid of responsibility, to stop worrying and to start living easily and cheerfully. Sometimes it happens that the image of the parent and the image of the child run into one Adult…

Client is supposed to understand all the logic of the job. He/she must get rid of resistance by any means. By the end, as usual, the result is confirmed by imagined situation. Students are very surprised to say that just after one session they stop delaying the study, it is easy for them to start, and even if they get tired, they can easily postpone learning, as they are positive that everything will be covered by them later.

I would like to report one more case about the mother who faced problems with her daughter’s studies.

Example 6. “Torment Studying”

During the training session in Volgograd a young woman complained that she had problems with her daughter’s studies. She pushed the girl to start doing her home task, screamed at her, being pretty unhappy with herself about doing that; every time they both ended up with tears.

First, I suggested that she gets an advice from the other women in the group. There were a lot of them who were happy to share their ideas with no decision made, although the brain storm lasted for a long time. It revealed that all the attempts to solve the problem had lead to a psychological dead end, and women got an opportunity to realize all the non-productiveness of their therapy.

After this unsuccessful brain storm, I suggested that the mother reconstructs the scene of the daughter’s studies right away. A woman stood over the daughter. The girl obviously didn’t understand her home task. I recommended her to speak both in her own name and in her daughter’s, either sitting on the chair or standing over it. She started (in a very annoyed voice): “Okay, what exactly you do not understand? Here is subject, here is object. I remember you learning the rule!”

– Please, sit down on the chair and imagine that you are a daughter. What do you feel?

– I understand nothing my thoughts are messed around, mom is forcing me (piteously) I don’t remember…

– (Get’s up.) You never remember anything! How many times can I repeat one and the same thing?!

– (Sits down.) There are tears in my eyes. I understand nothing… It’s smog in my head…

And so on and so force.

The conflict was obvious, and the heavier the mother’s pressure was, the less could the girl understand, she almost lost her consciousness. It seemed that the situation had no way out. I suggested that the mother starts from scratch, but in a different way. She had no ideas of how to do that.

Then I recommended to start with: “Okay, let’s figure out together, what’s wrong with this rule?” (Criticizing and Pushing Parent turns into the Caring one”). The dialogue was repeated but with absolutely different outcome.

It turned that everything became very clear in girl’s head, (same with mother), and they very quickly managed to find the solution. Everybody was stunned. There were a lot of women in the group who were crying, as all of them had encountered the same problems with their children.

But the most important part of the session started later, when working with IC. The mother, being very happy, got back to her seat, but in a minute she felt nausea and dizziness. She became very pale. I had to call her back to the “hot chair”. She said that as soon as she got back to her place, she saw her mother standing over her with a belt for punishing. She felt tremendous humiliation. I suggested that she imagines this feeling on the chair in front of her. It turned to be the image of the small girl, like Thumbelina. I asked whether it was possible for her to raise this girl, giving her all the energy. She started doing it. The girl grew up, and soon became of the same size as a woman herself. After this the client adopted the girl into herself, as a part of her personality. After that she was asked again to have a look at her mother. Reaction was strange: “I don’t care. Let her stand. I feel that she can’t make me any harm.”

Comments: It is obvious, that this method is based on the idea of overcoming of the child’s humiliation by energization of the image and following identification with it. It is also obvious, that pedagogical helplessness of the mother was based on her own psychological problems, which came back from her childhood.

When the woman showed up the next day, she thanked me a lot for the result. She woke up in a very good mood, she had a lot of energy, and she felt happiness, her relationship with her daughter improved tremendously.

I think there is no need to convince the reader, how important the problem is and how difficult it is to correct this “small” problem. EIT in cooperation with E. Berne’s concept, give us chance to achieve great and encouraging results.

The goal of this article was to show new advantages of EIT, which were not yet discussed in printed media, and to share with colleagues the ideas, which give the opportunity to solve some problems quickly, easily and gracefully. Unfortunately, it is impossible to describe all the devices and peculiarities of the work with IC in just this one article.


1. Berne, E., 1964. Games People Play, Ballantine Books (reprint 1996).

2. Freud, S., 1899. The Interpretation of Dreams.

3. Adler, A. (1938). Social Interest: A Challenge to Mankind. J. Linton and R. Vaughan (Trans.). London: Faber and Faber Ltd.

4. Adler, A. (1956). The Individual Psychology. H. L. Ansbacher and R. R. Ansbacher (Eds.). New York: Harper Torchbooks.

5. Berne, E. I’m OK You’re OK . Ed. Avon Books. 1976.

6. Vgl. Reich. Der Einbruch der Sexualmoral. Verlag Г. 1934

7. Vgl. Reich. Massen psychologie des Faschismus. Verlag Г. 1939.