Skip to content

Why working with the inner child is so important

Inner child work
Page content
Reading time: 17 Minutes

Doyou overreact in some situations, behave and feel - if you are honest with yourself - like a child? Do you become aggressive, offended, fearful, feel at the mercy of others, withdraw, sulk? You don't really want that, but you can't help it? This is your inner wounded child stuck in your adult body. In psychotherapy and coaching, I work with the inner child to get to the root of your challenges as an adult. In inner child work we work on your child level, because that is where the transformation of your emotional pain has to happen, because that is where it was caused. When you work on the adult level, it is like putting a plaster on it. The wound is covered but it is still there. In your inner child.

Working with the inner child is the focus of my psychotherapyand coaching sessions.

What is the inner child?

The inner child is the younger version of you, the childlike part of you that has experienced an emotional injury or traumatisation that you have not yet healed. You have only repressed and suppressed the emotional pain because you had no other coping strategy as a child. This wounded child lives in your adult body. Do you know that you often get triggered or behave in a way, overreact or do something, although you don't really want to? This is your unhealed inner child. When we suppress emotional hurts, they don't go away, they continue to ferment inside of us like a festering cooker. You have different ages of inner children in you depending on when you were emotionally hurt.

Many painful experiences and emotional wounds may no longer be consciously in your memory, but they are stored in your subconscious and unconsciously determine your entire life, your partnership, your relationship with other people, how you are doing at work and also your relationship with your children.

You as an adult can now take on the loving parent role for your inner child, heal it and give it what it needs.

How inner child work works

Sometimes you have to 

  • Words are spoken that were never spoken
  • Feelings are felt that have not been felt for a long time
  • deep limiting beliefs are brought to light and transformed

to be able to heal.

In inner child work it is not you as an adult who speaks, but your inner child

Your inner child gets a voice.

Inner child work

What are the symptoms of a wounded inner child?

The symptoms of an injured inner child are manifold.

When you

  •  gettriggered often
  • are often aggressive
  • Avoidance strategies used to suppress feelings
  • You feel disconnected, empty inside
  • Feel like a victim of circumstances
  • Have undefined fears
  • Are very insecure
  • Your nervous system is in a constant state of excitement
  • In an (emotionally) frozen state you are

these are signs that your inner child has been emotionally hurt.

You can find more detailed examples of the individual symptoms in the following paragraphs.

How you know your inner child has trauma

You need to know in advance that trauma can not only be caused by the big, bad experiences, such as sexual, verbal or emotional abuse, psychological and physical violence, death, accidents, illness or catastrophes.

Many people have experienced developmental trauma in childhood

  • the many little things that were said to you and hurt you
  • the words you wanted to hear so much as a child but never heard
  • the looks, gestures and facial expressions that hurt you
  • the many small injuries
  • You were left alonewith your emotional pain and overload
  • The lack of emotional security, safety, protection, understanding, being responsive to you.
  • You felt that you had to conform to please your parents because otherwise they would not love you.
  • Your feelings were not acknowledged
  • You grew up in a dysfunctional family system
  • You were not believed
  • Your voice was simply not heard, no matter what you said

All these "little" things that piled up during your childhood are called developmental trauma.

Were you left alone emotionally as a child?

Even if you grew up sheltered and in material security, the façade was perfect on the outside, but your parents were not emotionally accessible to you, did not support you emotionally or even triggered fears and insecurities and other deep emotions in you through their behaviour and then left you alone with your fears, it may be that you have a developmental trauma.

You were made to understand with words or looks that you are simply not good enough the way you are, that you are wrong, that you should be different.

You have the deep, inner feeling that something is wrong with you, although nothing "bad" has ever happened to you.

Who hurt you emotionally as a child?

Hurt parents hurt children. It was never enough what you did. You were put in a box as a child. You were not heard. In my Emotional Release sessions you can feel, process and release the pain that has been inside you since childhood. 

The term trauma is to be understood as

An experience - whether big or small - for which you lacked the coping strategy and there was no one there to support you emotionally, you were left emotionally alone.

The only survival strategy available to you was to suppress the strong feelings, to split them off, to put them in a box and push them into a dark corner. However, this does not make the suppressed feelings disappear, they are still in you, in your inner child.

1. why you can only be triggered when your inner child is traumatised

If someone triggers you and you overreact emotionally, get angry, feel exposed, that person did not put the anger or powerlessness into you. 

These emotions were already inside you. As a child, you experienced situations in which you felt powerless, helpless and angry. Every time a similar situation arises, your inner child in you experiences the situation of that time again.

The other person just pushes your already existing buttons.

If these repressed feelings that you experience when you are triggered were not inside you, you would be able to react confidently in the situation in question.

Every trigger is an indication of an unhealed childhood wound. An acute trigger situation is therefore an invitation to transform this childhood wound.

2. you use survival strategies to avoid feeling the pain of your inner child.

We unconsciouslyuse survivaland avoidance strategies to avoid feeling certain deep feelings. Below you will find a selection of common avoidance strategies. You do not use all strategies, which survival strategy you use depends on your type.

Avoidance strategies have one thing in common - they are a trauma response

In this way you suppress the emotional injuries of your inner traumatised child that keep knocking and coming up from within.

Avoidance strategies are a trauma response.

As long as you are not aware of this, you are simply thinking:

I've always been like this, and you think it's normal.

No, it isn't.

You were not born like this.

  • You become aggressiveeasily
  • You react quickly and often over
  • Self-criticism
  • Helper syndrome
  • Neediness to be admired
  • Extremely competitive/performance-oriented
  • People Pleaser
  • Perfectionism
  • You can't set boundaries, can't stand up for yourself
  • You are overconformist, you want to please others
  • You withdraw
  • You play the clown all the time
  • You engage in food, smoking, alcohol, Netflix, Facebook, excessive activities such as sex, work, sports, sleeping, shopping
  • Addictions of any kind
  • You are a head person
  • Risky behaviour
  • Pessimistic view
  • Great concern for safety
  • You cannot be alone
  • You need power and control
  • You always have to be right
  • Peacekeeper
  • You consider yourself flawed, defective, different
  • You feel numb, empty inside
  • You have general anxiety/panic attacks
  • You are in a kind of rigidity
  • You are a rebel

If you can feel surface feelings and emotions, you may still be suppressing deep feelings. Sometimes we use surface emotions to keep deeper emotions down, because emotions are layered on top of each other. For example, you may react aggressively on the surface to avoid feeling deep fears.

With other people it can be that they feel anxious restlessness on the surface, underneath which, for example, deep anger or worthlessness of the inner child is hidden, but which they do not want to feel because they are too afraid of it. This is different for each individual.

What avoidance strategies do you use?

What would you feel if you could no longer use your survival strategies?

3. you feel disconnected

  • From yourself
  • Your body
  • The nature
  • From other people
  • To life

You survive, but you don't live. Your life has no depth, no juice. You feel empty inside. If you suppress feelings, you lose the connection with yourself.

4. you feel like a victim

You feel at the mercy of life, you have given up responsibility for your life. As an adult you blame others for how you are and why you have problems instead of taking 100% responsibility for yourself and your life.

This is your inner traumatised child that is frozen and cannot take responsibility for itself.

5. unexplained physical or psychological complaints

If you are in survival mode - in a trauma reaction - because of the unhealed trauma, this leads to a chronic overexcitation of your nervous system. This can express itself in various ways in inexplicable complaints.

  • Depression
  • Burnout and exhaustion
  • Anxiety disorder and panic attacks
  • Your system is constantly on alert and you don't know why
  • Pain or discomfort that cannot be explained or is resistant to treatment
  • You feel deeply insecure
  • Sleep disorders
  • Shallow breathing
  • Increased muscle tension throughout the body
  • Inner restlessness and stress
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Pine presses
  • Psychosomatic complaints

Do you want impulses for your emotional everyday life?

I send you help and tools on how to start getting back in touch with your inner child.There you will also find the dates for my trauma sensitive online group coaching. 

6. further indications of trauma of your inner child

  • You tolerate abusive behaviour
  • You feel as if you are not in your bodyat all.
  • You have no self-love
  • You have no self-worth
  • You are attachment disordered
  • You are emotionally dependent on others
  • You have no basic trust
  • You have constant self-doubt
  • Circles of thought
  • You worry all the time
  • You get into toxic partners again and again
  • You are afraid of rejection
  • You can't make eye contact
  • The same themes keep repeating themselves in your life
  • Any behaviour that you engage in that you would like to stop but for some reason cannot stop
  • You want to do something that is really close to your heart, but for reasons you cannot understand you cannot do it.
Narcissistic father Break off contact

How your unhealed inner child causes relationship problems

When you are in a relationship, unless you have both already healed your inner children, you are two inner children together in adult bodies.

As a result, you trigger each other as partners and small things can escalate into extreme reactions because your inner children then act and not the adults.

If one is not aware of this, a relationship can become very stressful or even be destroyed by the emotionally wounded inner children.

The ideal case is when both partners heal their inner children to solve the relationship problems.

If your partner is not open to working with the inner child, use the inner child work for yourself!

Your partner shows you your childhood wounds with every trigger. This doesn't sound nice at first, but try to look at it from the side:
If your partner triggers your inner child, you know exactly where you have to start with the inner child work in order to heal yourself.

The triggers are signposts to your healing if you use them correctly.

Even if only you heal your inner child and your partner does not, he or she will no longer be able to trigger you because the emotional pain of your inner child has been transformed and is no longer stuck in your body.

What the fear of rejection has to do with your inner child

As a child, we need the (family) pack to be cared for and safe, our survival depends on it. Without a pack you die. It's as simple as that. That's why we start to adapt, so as not to lose the protection and nourishment we get from our parents. Since our parents also have unhealed inner children inside them, they sometimes say or do things that hurt us emotionally as a child or they make us understand that they want us to be different from who we are.

Certain behaviour is received benevolently by our parents and other caregivers, while we are reprimanded or punished as children for other behaviour. We are conditioned to behave in a certain way. 

As a child we interpret this as:

I am not right the way I am and store this in our subconscious.

We develop fears of being expelled from the pack and adapt even more. And even more and more and more, because exclusion from the pack means

  • Loss of protection
  • Loss of the food source
  • Death

You develop a fear of rejection as a child, because you

  • Believed that you are not right the way you are
  • Believed that you are not good enough the way you are
  • because you did not feel safe in your family system

Depending on how dysfunctional the family system you grew up in was and how strong the fear of rejection you had was, you may have developed extreme insecurities or even fear of death as a child.

Even if you can no longer remember it consciously, it is all stored in your subconscious.

Fear of rejection is a key life issue for many people and can significantly affect your life and hold you back from living the life you want.

If your inner child has a fear of rejection stored inside it

  • You constantly have thought loops about what others think of you and how they react to your behaviour.
  • you can 't stand up for yourself
  • you cannot set limits
  • you cannot be authentic
  • Are you afraid of criticism from others
  • Are you afraid of being laughed at
  • Do you no longer have your own opinion
  • Are you extremely adapted

Free your inner child from its fear of rejection and learn to stand by yourself, no matter what others think of you.

I greet you, I respect you and I don't care what you think of me!

What does the inner child have to do with fear of loss?

Fear of loss can manifest itself in different ways


  • Losing the partner
  • that something happens to the children
  • Losing the parents
  • Losing the job
  • Losing friends
  • Losing money

You were taught an insecure and unstable bond as a child.

If you have a fear of loss as an adult, your parents did not teach you about healthy attachment. Your parents probably did not know what a healthy attachment is.

As a child, we are dependent on our parents, we need nourishment and protection in order to survive. But if this very bond - on which our survival depends- is insecure and unstable, for example because our parents are emotionally unavailable to us or we have grown up in a dysfunctional family structure, you develop fears of losing this - for you - insecure bond.

Furthermore, as a child, you draw the conclusion that you are

  • You are not lovable
  • Not good enough
  • Worthless are
  • Not right the way you are
  • and much more.

Because of the insecure attachment, you begin to adapt in order not to lose the protection and nourishment under any circumstances and develop a fear of loss of this insecure attachment. It is exactly this fear of loss that is still stuck in your inner child as an adult. As long as you have not healed this fear of loss of your inner child, you carry it into your partnership, into your relationships with other people, into your profession, into your entire life.

inner child beliefs

What beliefs does your inner child have?

Beliefs arise in your inner child in two basic ways.

You absorb everything unfiltered as a child

As a child, we absorb everything unfiltered like a sponge. We hear what our caregivers and our environment say about us.

  • life
  • itself
  • Relationships
  • Us
  • What we can and cannot do
  • How we are and have to be

say and soak it up. And as a child, we believe what we hear.

  • I am not good enough
  • I am worthless
  • I am not right the way I am
  • I can't do it
  • I am not lovable
  • I have to do something to be loved
  • I am to blame
  • I have to do it alone
  • Life is hard
  • Money stinks
  • I always have to work hard
  • I must be good
  • It will never be good enough what I do
  • I can't do anything
  • I am not lovable
  • It is not my place
  • I am not allowed
  • I do not deserve it
  • I am alone
  • I am a bad daughter/son
  • a good daughter does not get angry
  • And many many more......

Do you think you are not good enough?

As a child, we relate our parents' behavior to us. We draw the conclusion that we are wrong, not good enough. This is deep inside you. In my Emotional Release sessions you feel this pain and let it go and start to give your inner child what it needs.

Beliefs that arise from trauma

If you have experienced a (developmental)trauma, you form beliefs as a consequence or as a protective mechanism to repress what you have experienced:

  • When I feel this, I die
  • Feeling emotions is dangerous
  • Being sad is not allowed
  • I must not feel anger
  • When I feel anger, something bad happens
  • When I feel shame, I die
  • I must not attract attention
  • I am not sure
  • Feeling is not safe
  • If I show myself, I get hurt
  • When I stand by myself, I get hurt
  • The world is not a safe place
  • My family is not a safe place
  • My opinion does not count
  • I am not important
  • What I say is worthless
  • when I have fun I get punished
  • a good daughter does not get angry
  • I am to blame
  • if I do what my heart says I will be punished

Your inner child, your shadow child, has installed these beliefs - and many others - so that it no longer has to feel certain deep feelings because it had no other coping strategy.
We have many limiting beliefs within us - but the good news is:
You can change them!

I oftenwork in my sessions - as part of inner child work - with changing limiting beliefs.

When your inner child cries

When your inner child cries, this is a very strong sign that it is time to engage in work with your inner child.

Your inner child cries because it

  • would like to heal
  • You need
  • finally wants to be seen and heard by you as an adult

When you become aware that your inner child is crying, it means that you have begun to open up to contacting your wounded inner child, otherwise you would not hear it crying.

And this is the first important step:

Listen to it. No more pushing away.
What does your inner child need?
Why is your inner child crying?
The crying of your inner child is an invitation to transform the emotional injuries with inner child work.

When does the inner child speak up?

The inner child reports in different ways. Some are very clear, others are subtle. When you are triggered, for example, this is a very clear sign of your inner child. But the inner child also reports through unconscious behaviors. With unconscious behaviors you repress painful feelings that come up, the emotional injuries of your inner child.

Finding my inner child

When your inner child cries, this is a very strong sign that it is time to engage in work with your inner child.

Your inner child cries because it

  • would like to heal
  • You need
  • finally wants to be seen and heard by you as an adult

When you become aware that your inner child is crying, it means that you have begun to open up to contacting your wounded inner child, otherwise you would not hear it crying.

And this is the first important step:

Listen to it. No more pushing away.
What does your inner child need?
Why is your inner child crying?
The crying of your inner child is an invitation to transform the emotional injuries with inner child work.

How you can make contact with your inner child

You can establish contact with your inner child in different ways.

Put up a children's picture

Put a child's picture of yourself in a nice frame and put it up.

Look at it, look into your eyes as a child.

This is you.

Feel how it feels.

Get your inner child out of the stressful situation

Close your eyes and imagine a stressful situation from your childhood.

Now imagine how you, as an adult, pull your younger version out of this stressful situation, take him or her in your arms and say to him or her:

  • I am here for you now
  • I'll take care of you now
  • I love you
  • I protect you from today
  • You are safe now
  • Tell your inner child what you wanted to hear as a child

Do this several times a day for each childhood wound.
In this way you can establish contact with your inner child.
If this is too stressful for you, you should get professional support.

Make journeys to your inner child

If you want to go deeper - find someone who does inner child work and accompanies you with journeys to your inner child.

The focus of my sessions are journeys to the inner child for the release of emotional injuries.

How to comfort your inner child

You can comfort your inner child by starting to perceive it.
As an adult, take your inner child out of the stressful situation.
Take your inner child in your arms.
Ask it what it needs. Whatever it answers, give it to it.
As an adult,tell your inner child the words that you wanted to hear as a child but never got to hear. Say it again and again.

  • You are valuable
  • You are enough
  • I love you
  • You are wonderful
  • You are safe
  • I protect you

Give your inner child the love it has always longed for. No one can do this better than you.
Take on the role of loving parent for your inner child.

How do you work with the inner child?

 The starting point of my sessions is usually a current challenge on the adult level that you would like to resolve. In the journey to your inner child, thecontext of your issue on your child level is revealed to you. Your inner child can transform the emotional injuries and limiting beliefs in a protected and safe environment and gets resources that it did not have at that time. This enables you to perceive the experience differently - less stressfully. In my practice I work with different journeys to your inner child, depending on where you are and what you and your inner child need at the moment.

How do I heal my wounded inner child?

You heal your wounded inner child by

  • Doinner journeys to release your repressed emotions and traumas, this will get the stagnated and stored emotions moving again and you can finally let goof the emotional pain of your inner child.
  • As an adult, give your wounded inner child resources that it could have used to better overcome the stressful situation, thereby changing the stored memory and making it less stressful.
  • As an adult, take responsibility and the loving role of parent for your inner child and care for it, giving it the love, care, recognition, protection, safety, acceptance and security it needs.

What you can feel, you can heal

In the beginning you may be too afraid to feel the painful emotions and therefore continue to suppress them. And you have established strong habits as protection, thick protective walls that have protected you from the painful emotions for decades.

This is normal and therefore needs time and patience.

It can therefore be helpful to be accompanied until you have better access to yourself again.

As an adult, you can now give your wounded inner child what it needs.

Love. Protection. Recognition. Security. Help.

Ask your inner child what it needs from you.

What are the benefits of working with the inner child?

Working with the inner child brings liberation from your emotional childish pain that has been inside you all your life. You transform your childhood emotional pain, change the memory of what happened during the deep inner journeys and learn to take on the loving parent role for your inner child. You can make peace with the past and let it go and start living your life. The inner child work starts at the source of your challenges as an adult, at the hurts of your inner child.
You cannot solve the problem you have on the adult level, but which stems from your wounded inner child, on the adult level, you have to solve it on the child level. That is exactly where the inner child work starts, at the child level.

Do you want to heal your inner child?

You heal your inner child by starting to feel the pain that is inside of you. It is the emotional pain of your inner child. What you can feel, you can heal. 

Inner child work can help you with

  • Liberation from old traumas
  • Liberation from emotional injuries
  • Release from triggers
  • Regulation of your nervous system, as you gradually come out of the trauma reaction.
  • Learning to feel emotions in a healthy way
  • Transformation of limiting beliefs
  • To change the stored memory and thereby gain distance from the experience.
  • You get back into real contact with your body and thus with yourself.
  • You come back into harmony with yourself
  • Behavioural change, as feelings can be felt in a healthy way and no longer have to be suppressed by unconscious behaviour
  • You as an adult learn to take care of your inner child, to give it what it has been longing for all along.

What is the difference between inner child work and talk therapy?

Inner child work is a method from trauma therapy and involves the body and learning to feel oneself again and working with the subconscious.

1. the trauma is in your body, not in your head

Unhealed traumas and emotional injuries are stored in your body tissues, it is stagnant energy in your body.

That is why it is important to work with the body directly, to involve it, if you want to resolve the trauma of your inner child and not just talk about it.

You feel with your body, not with your head.

2. talk therapy only involves the conscious mind

Psychotherapy based on classical talk therapy addresses only the conscious mind. The conscious mind makes up only 5% of our brain.

Our subconscious makes up the remaining 95 %.

Ask yourself which part of your brain has the greater influence on your life.

Trauma reactions, such as unconscious behaviour, permanent arousal of the nervous system etc. are controlled bythe subconscious.

3. my personal experience

My personal experience was that I realised relatively quickly that classical psychotherapy was not helping me and I started looking for alternative psychotherapy approaches and came across the work with the inner child, which starts at a much deeper level.

My mind told me: it's time to check off the past, think positively, look to the future.  

However, a part of me - my inner child - was trapped in the emotional injuries and was constantly spinning in circles. 

Mentally ticking something off is one thing, but letting go of the emotional hurts stored in the body is quite another. 

Positive thinking doesn't work if the trauma is still in your body.

Journeys to my inner child have helped me

  • to feel myself and my body again
  • letting go of emotional pain
  • going from the head to the heart
  • To free myself from triggers
  • Feeling emotions again in a healthy way
  • reconnect with me
  • To find out what I really want and to do it
  • what do I want to do with my life?
  • what is good for me?
  • to become more courageous
  • to trust
  • to love myself
  • Seeing and understanding other inner children and their pain
  • Set boundaries
  • and much much more

My psychotherapy and coaching for inner child work started exactly there.

At the cause. In the subconscious. At the child level. Your inner child.

Inner child work is more than talking about the challenge.

Body-oriented coaching and emotional release therapy for your inner child

With my body-oriented trauma-sensitive coaching with your inner child, we address the root cause of your challenges as an adult.
The trauma is in your body, not in your head. I therefore work with body-oriented trauma therapy methods to help you get back in touch with your body and your feelings.

In order for you to start feeling yourself again, I will show you simple exercises of various kinds, how you can - little by little - get in touch with your body again. 

If you are open and ready to release your repressed feelings or you are in a strong trigger situation, I work with you with Emotional Release sessions.

My coaching and therapy sessions involve individual, deep, powerful inner journeys to your inner child and can go very deep and pick you up right where you are now.

Stefanie Heinlein

I am an expert on narcissism, healing practitioner & mentor. My mission: emotional release & working with the subconscious mind. I supported people to free themselves from the shackles of their emotional hurts and traumas, and related repressed emotions and patterns, regardless of the cause. My particular area of heart and specialization is supporting women in releasing their narcissistic trauma so that they can once again live a self-determined life with self-love, self-worth and self-confidence.

Stefanie Heinlein