Facilitated by The Embodied Psychotherapy Centre 3rd – 5th June 2011
Reviewed by Thomas Larkin
The fragility and vulnerability of the inner child, for me, if always a difficult area of work. Rewarding also, but firstly difficult. And working with the body in this area has an immediacy that can be frightening, again for me. I can suddenly be presented with a hidden part of myself and can I bear that? So even signing up for the Inner Child weekend run by The Embodied Psychotherapy Centre (TEPC) was work in itself. I nearly pulled out, I didn’t, I went…after a re-assuring conversation with course facilitator Thérèse Gaynor….and an overnight think about it.
The weekend was based in Kiltegan Co Wicklow, at a working monastery, but in a facility separate from it. The rooms and general kitchen area were decked out to encourage a real look at our younger self. A little packet of sweets and note of welcome awaited each of us in our rooms while the kitchen area where we talked and digested, both food and experience, was decked out like a children’s party – all balloons, party poppers and more sweets. This encouraged the child in me but not my adult waistline.
Then it was getting to know you time with the others and preliminary exercises, mostly spent by me trying to coax my inner child into the room. It reminded me of how difficult I found my first day at school. The child in me was frightened and wanted the adult in me to be close. I could see the adult in me was embarrassed about what other people were thinking and thus gaining insight into my own internal parent/child relationship. I could feel the sadness of the disconnection.
The most challenging piece of work came when working with our core beliefs and the impact this has on our body. As each participant assumed a physical posture that represented their core belief, it was allowed to resonate and impact within us. The fullness of our core belief became embodied. Thérèse then used the psychodrama technique of doubling. The participants stepped out of the experience and three other participants assumed the same posture, repeating the same core belief. This externalised the inner belief for the original participant and had a strong impact on most there. This was processed within the group and took up a considerable part of the day. It was also quite draining but insights are hard earned in that way.
The weekend was well rounded as there was also a lot of play, a lot of unfettered play. Time and boundaries were there enough for us to let go and really enjoy and celebrate the playful, imaginative and pure joy of being a child. We played games, the old classics…depending on your age….I was delighted to re-live ‘kick-the-can-relievio’. If you don’t know what that is ask someone from northside Dublin of a certain age.
Overall, I could see my inner child was frightened and unsure but also capable of terrific passion and imagination, ‘a game of two halves’ as they say in football. The weekend is part of a series: other weekends include direct work on fear and our inner critic. Information about them is available on the TEPC website.