Inner Child Therapy [#14998]

August 27, 2021


There is a kind of therapy today called “Inner Child” therapy, which is very popular. Without getting into all of the details, it is a kind of therapy where a person learns how to recognize his “inner child” which lives deep within him, to speak with this inner “child”, to ask questions from the inner child, etc. Through this, a person can slowly heal issues in his soul, through the internal connection that is created with one’s “inner child”. I have heard that there is a source for this in the words of the Gra, but I don’t know exactly where the source is. Is this true? And if it is an appropriate path to take, what are the boundaries of using this therapy?


A person develops throughout his life like a structure that is being built. Therefore, every step of life that a person went through is not simply a part of the past, which has gone, but a part of his development.
Just as a structure is first built from the foundation, and the stronger the foundation, the stronger the structure will be – even the slightest error in building the foundation can prevent the entire structure from being built – so is a person’s childhood the foundation of a person’s lifetime, his “structure” which his life stands upon. Therefore, there is certainly a valid place for “returning” to one’s childhood and sorting it out, and to repair it.
There is a danger to this, however, because when one may “fall” back into his childhood in the process, if he doesn’t go about this in the right way. “Returning to one’s childhood” needs to come from an inner place in one’s soul, and it should not be done in a superficial manner. Therefore, the primary way to return to one’s childhood is by accessing one’s temimus (childlike earnestness), which is the nature of the child. The more earnest one becomes, the more powerfully he can return to the child perspective within him.

After a person has reached his “child perspective” [through accessing his temimus], there are several practical ways by which one can “return” to this place in the soul [of the child’s perspective].

1) Action: One way to return to childhood is in the active sense, by playing the games that one enjoyed as a child, or by revisiting the places one grew up in and played in, or studied in, or by reading the books that one read as a child, etc. Through these actions, one returns in his soul to his childhood state. However, this is a spiritually unrefined way, and it can bring a person down from his current adult level to his childhood level. Although one would be trying to repair his childhood, he would be “falling” back into his childhood [by playing childish games], and this is a spiritual downfall for him.

2) Speech: One can also talk about his childhood experiences, and thereby return, on some level, to this place [of the child’s perspective] in his soul.

3) Hearing: One can listen to songs that he heard when he was a child.

4) Memory: By merely remembering one’s childhood, one can awaken the memories of his childhood. This uses the soul’s power of memory (zocheir ). An even more powerful experience is when one uses the soul’s imaginative faculty to vividly remember and pictures that have been imprinted on one’s soul since childhood. This is called the soul’s power of shoimer. This can be achieved either by looking at pictures of childhood, or by using one’s thoughts to vividly picture one’s childhood.

5) Imagination: By way of the power of imagination, one can “return”, in his imagination, to his childhood. This is a fundamental power in the soul, because a child’s imagination is very powerful. When one enters into his imagination, he is entering into an ability of his childhood, and in that way he draws himself closer, in a visceral way, to his childhood.
6) One can directly enter into to the very first “beginning point” he felt as a child.

7) One can return to what one learned as a child, such as what he learned in Chumash, Mishnah, Gemara, etc.

When one returns to his childhood in the aforementioned ways, or at least by using some of them, his avodah now is to experience his childhood in the proper way. Whenever any negativity becomes “triggered” from any childhood experiences, he should remind himself of the proper, “mature adult” perspective which he has now acquired, and reframe his perspective towards the situation.
Along with this, one also needs to clarify what’s bothering him since his childhood, and to deal with it accordingly. One can do so by speaking about the issue and also repair the issue by making actual, practical changes regarding the issue. Just speaking about the issues alone, without making actual changes, can feel relieving, but it is not yet the complete repair to the issue. One needs to speak about the issues of his childhood and also to make actual changes of repair. One also needs to sort out his childhood by applying his “mature adult” perspective to whatever bothersome situations he went through in his childhood.

Understandably, the [following] words here are brief, but they are the fundamental roots, based on inner wisdom, as explained in the writings of the Arizal. There are three “states” in a person’s life: the fetal state, the nursing state, and the intellectual state (ibbur, yenikah, and mochin). All of these comprise the first stage of maturity of one’s life (gadlus rishon). These stages span one’s childhood, beginning all the way from one’s fetal state, all the way until one has reached intellectual maturity. After one traverses this general first stage of maturity, one begins his second stage of maturity (gadlus sheini), where one returns to a semblance of his fetal state – he begins a new stage of “childhood” [immaturity] within his adult [mature] state. This “childhood” state sorts out all that one has experienced since childhood, from the time he was completely immature, with a re-framing of the childhood experiences, through a “mature adult” perspective. This newfound maturity [the mature adult’s perspective applied to one’s childhood experiences] is called one’s gadlus sheini.