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Healing Unseen Wounds With IFS Therapy: The Impact of Childhood Emotional Neglect on Self-Worth

Updated: May 9

Childhood is a critical phase for emotional development, shaping our sense of self-worth and overall well-being. When a child's emotional needs are neglected, it can have profound and long-lasting effects on their self-esteem and self-perception. In my clinical work with clients, I use two of the most effective therapeutic approaches: Internal Family Systems (IFS) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) to help people heal and reclaim their sense of self.

Some people might not realize they are coping with the effects of neglect. Childhood emotional neglect occurs when a child's emotional needs for validation, understanding, and nurturing are consistently unmet. We all need to be seen, heard, and understood. When we are not, our sense of self-worth can be profoundly impacted, creating a pervasive belief that their emotions and needs are inconsequential or unworthy of attention.

Emotional neglect is when we don’t receive emotional attunement, when we get dismissive responses, or an absence of emotional connection. Emotional neglect in childhood can lead to feelings of inadequacy, shame, and a distorted self-perception. In your adult years it can experienced as “imposter syndrome” or worthlessness, feeling that you are not good enough, lonely, or empty feeling. This can result in difficulties with self-acceptance, setting boundaries, and forming healthy relationships.

There is hope. You can heal unseen wounds with IFS therapy.

I do this work because I see real transformation. I see my clients getting better! If you’ve realized that you have been coping with effects of emotional neglect or abuse, you can experience real lasting change! If you are tired of “coping” and what you have been doing isn’t working, there is another way. Years of development backed up by research has proven these two effective therapy methods make a difference.

The Path to Healing: IFS and EMDR

Healing with IFS Therapy

1. Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy: IFS therapy offers a valuable framework for healing childhood emotional neglect. It recognizes that individuals possess various inner parts or subpersonalities, each with its own thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. In the context of childhood emotional neglect, IFS therapy helps individuals identify and nurture the wounded parts that experienced neglect. By developing a compassionate relationship with these parts, individuals can heal past wounds and restore a sense of self-worth.

2. Externalizing and nurturing wounded parts: IFS therapy allows individuals to externalize their wounded parts and engage in a compassionate dialogue with them. Through this process, the therapist guides clients to connect with their neglected inner child, acknowledging their pain and validating their emotions. By nurturing and healing these wounded parts, individuals begin to rebuild their self-worth and develop a healthier relationship with themselves.

Healing with EMDR Therapy

1. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy: EMDR therapy is another powerful modality for healing the impact of childhood emotional neglect. It focuses on reprocessing traumatic experiences and unresolved emotions that contribute to low self-worth. EMDR utilizes bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements or taps, to facilitate the processing and integration of distressing memories and associated beliefs.

2. Resourcing and reprocessing memories: EMDR therapy begins with "resourcing" by helping individuals access inner resources and strengths to support the healing process. Once clients have developed a secure and empowered foundation, the therapist guides them through the reprocessing of memories associated with emotional neglect. This transformative process allows individuals to challenge negative self-beliefs, reframe their experiences, and cultivate a more positive and accurate self-perception.

While real change and healing takes a commitment and won’t happen overnight, it can just happen faster than you may think!

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