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The Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy (DNMS)


The DNMS is a multidimensional, comprehensive, strengths-based, client-centered, ego-state therapy developed by Shirley Jean Schmidt, MA, LPC. It’s informed by ego-state theory, developmental psychology, self-reparenting therapy, attachment theory, EMDR therapy, and an understanding of mirror neurons. The DNMS addresses unwanted behaviors, beliefs, emotions, and urges rooted in unmet emotional needs from childhood trauma and attachment wounds. It’s based on 2 important ideas.

(1) Childhood trauma wounds form when safety needs are not met well. This occurs when bad things happen – like a tornado, hurricane, or school shooting. Attachment wounds form when emotional needs are not met well. This occurs when important good things do not happen – like parents failing to make a loving connection, soothe painful emotions, or attune. When parents are physically abusive or threatening, they inflict both trauma and attachment wounds.

(2) When we’re significantly wounded in childhood, child parts of self get stuck in time. From then on, those wounded child parts feel hurt, powerless, alone, and lost. They hold negative, untrue beliefs about self and world. Reminders of a painful past can trigger a flood of overwhelming emotions, evoking a felt sense that the past is still happening now. Some child parts manage those painful emotions with troubling behaviors – like overeating, starving, withdrawing, gambling, or drinking.

The DNMS helps heal childhood trauma and attachment wounds by meeting the needs of wounded child parts to help them get unstuck from the past. It starts with mobilizing a team of loving internal Resources. The Resources join the therapist in providing all the emotional support, compassion, empathy, and radical acceptance wounded parts needed in childhood but didn’t get. They’re gently given all the information they need to come out of the past and into the safety of the present moment. As more and more wounded parts heal, unwanted behaviors, beliefs, emotions, and urges diminish. Internal conflicts fade out and self-esteem grows. All this makes it easier to handle the stresses of life with adult skills and strengths. To learn more, click on the video link below.

Click here for a short video about the DNMS

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Do your clients struggle to manage painful emotions?

Four pages give step-by-step instructions for 4 powerful ego-state interventions that will help you prepare clients to manage their emotions when they get triggered.

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    Click below for a table that outlines key similarities and differences between the DNMS and IFS.

    IFS vs DNMS