Healing the “inner child” – EMDR imagery rescripting techniques with complex trauma clients


EMDR-based imagery re-scripting techniques with a modified concept of Cognitive Schema Modes (Young, 1999). Based on clinical case examples, the use of imagery techniques, which draw on all sensory modalities (involving cognitive, emotional and somatic systems) during the auditory application of EMDR will be described, to help complex trauma clients firstly approach and recognize and subsequently attach to and nurture the image of their own “inner child”. Rather than establishing a sense of unrealistic dependency on the therapist by integrating him or her as the sole nurturer, clients are encouraged to develop an image of their own ‘healthy adult’, who can learn to take on the role of internal re-nurturing, protection and healing of the ‘inner child’. Techniques for overcoming blockages between a client’s ‘healthy adult’ and their ‘inner child’ representations are described. It is proposed that differentiating between ‘child’ and ‘adult’ modes and tuning into these through deep-level EMDR processing, allows clients to re-connect to feelings associated with their earlier experiences of helplessness and dependency during childhood, which can now be re-experienced within a safe and nurturing context. It is suggested that this will allow higher order brain systems, such as the hippocampus, to remain active and therefore enable cognitive and structural re-organization of the stored material in the brain and body cells. Once a positive attachment bond between a client’s internalised ‘inner child’ and ‘healthy adult’ modes has been achieved this can then be utilized further during direct trauma processing work. It is argued that healing of the ‘inner child’ enables healing of the adult client so that a more positive and secure sense of self can be achieved.






Claudia Herbert

Original Work Citation

Herbert, C. (2003, May). Healing the “inner child” - EMDR imagery rescripting techniques with complex trauma clients. In Attachment and complex trauma. Symposium conducted at the 4th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Rome, Italy



“Healing the “inner child” – EMDR imagery rescripting techniques with complex trauma clients,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed March 8, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/18041.

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