Report: Homecoming: Reclaiming & Championing Your Inner Child


A Weekend With John Bradshaw


Leopardstown Racecourse
 – Sat. 23rd & Sun. 24th May 1998


Originally scheduled to be held in the Stakis Hotel in Dublin, this two-day 
nonresidential workshop was transferred in early May to the Leopardstown
 Racecourse. It was felt by the organisers, that the self-contained premises in 
Leopardstown would afford more privacy to participants in an experiential
 workshop.

Following on from Bradshaw’s one-day introductory seminar in the RDS some 
months previously the event was attended by 390 participants from a broad range 
of backgrounds and interests and was structured on his 1990 bestseller 
”Homecoming”. The author appeared fit and healthy, despite a quadruple by-pass
 only nine weeks previously, launching himself passionately into a presentation that 
has been attended by over a quarter of a million people in North America.

Bradshaw is an impressive orator and once one becomes acclimatised to his 
southern drawl the breadth of his learning and honesty makes him a captivating 
host. Through a disarmingly frank recollection of his own troubled childhood and
 its disastrous implications for his subsequent role as parent and lover, he set the 
scene for the work that was to follow. His talks, interspersed throughout the
 weekend, were short introductions to the dynamics of childhood trauma, to the
 physiology of repressed memory, to philosophy and to healing of emotional 
wounds. He was particularly concerned with the damage done by shaming,
 alcoholism, unresolved grief post-traumatic stress disorder, covert and overt sexual 
abuse, co-dependency and the patriarchal legacy. Like Jung, he sees all neurotic 
behaviour as a substitute for legitimate suffering or grief work. As a result, much 
of the experiential content of the workshop was designed to evoke this grief and to 
have one’s feelings witnessed and validated in a non-shaming environment by the 
group.

To build trust within the small groups and as a means of introduction, each member 
was asked to draw with pen and paper a representation of their family scene and to 
share as much as each person felt was appropriate.

The next exercise which entailed affirming the inner child of each group member 
in turn seemed to cause some difficulty around authenticity for most people but did
 seem to help create a positive and affirming atmosphere for subsequent work. Members were asked to avoid intellectual analysis and to respect others defences. Guided visualisations were used throughout the two days, to the accompaniment of
 appropriate background music (lullabies, songs contributed by previous
 participants, etc.)

In the exercises, each participant was asked to return to their home of origin,
 make contact with the wounded inner child, to reach out to support him or her, to 
re-set boundaries.

Each segment of the workshop dealt with the various developmental stages from 
infancy upwards (Bradshaw does not seem to specifically include peri-natal 
trauma) and with the various needs appropriate to those stages. Other exercises 
included at various stages included letters written with the non-dominant hand, the 
visualisation of one’s parents as children and the removal of the child from home 
to a place of safety.

Many of these exercises, particularly towards the end of the second day evoked
 considerable anguish from many of the participants, not least this reviewer.

The organisers had wisely seen fit to invite fifteen professional therapists who had 
volunteered their services for the two days to attend to anyone experiencing severe 
grief reactions.

Afterwards, an opportunity was given to those were deeply affected by the process
 to join support groups that are currently being set up in various localities. A 
network of support facilities under the auspices of the Oak Foundation offers
 individual therapy with facilitators specially trained in this aspect of inner child
work. They are contactable at Dublin 6273308.

Tim Hannan