Third Wave Psychotherapy

   Third Wave Psychotherapy

Reparenting

August 21, 2015

Seaghan Coleman


Recently I was doing some dissociative table technique work with a client. This work involved contact and connecting with a part that urges suicidal behavior in this client- a part whose job is to relieve pain. Though I did my best to do this work carefully and safely, this resulted in the client relapsing on crack cocaine- for only one day, but enough that she had to go to the hospital to stabilize.


When saw her two days later and she told me what had happend. She presented with a lot of shame, saying things like, "I have skills and I didn't use them," "this is my fault," and "I feel awful that I blew 9 months clean time."


A huge part of the work I do, with clients who have very strong histories of childhood neglect, is reparenting. This means allowing clients to experience things with the safety and guidance of a "parental" figure. A good parent validates a chid and sets limits. In this case, I needed to own my responsibility in making the choice for us to connect with this part. I told the client that it was my choice to do that work at that time and that she needed to continue to do her best to use skills, but that she needed to let me responsibility. She was able to allow me to take responsibility and experience the safety of guidance by a responsible adult.


This was fascinating work to do. It was also interesting for me personally to explore taking on that kind of intimate role with a client. It felt vulnerable to be that open and to accept this choice openly with her. I could also feel my own young ego states being happy to see my adult ego states take on that responsibility. In a strange way, I was also reparenting myself.