What is the Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy?

The DNMS is a multidimensional, comprehensive, strengths-based, client-centered, ego-state therapy. 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 these ideas…

  • There’s a difference between childhood trauma wounds and attachment wounds. Trauma wounds form when physical safety needs are not met well – when bad things happen – like a tornado, sports injury, or witnessing violence. Attachment wounds form when emotional needs are not met well – when important good things fail to happen – like when parents repeatedly fail to comfort, reassure, encourage, support, and delight in their child. It’s possible for a child to grow up with trauma wounds alone, attachment wounds alone, or some combination of both. Parents who physically threaten or harm a child inflict both – trauma wounds arise from the physical threat, while attachment wounds arise from the lack of loving, attuned connection.
  • Childhood attachment wounding is usually more consequential than trauma wounding. That’s because a loving, attuned connection to primary caregivers in early childhood significantly influences brain development. Such positive attachment relationships help form the neural architecture we need for lifelong emotional resilience. As securely-attached children grow over time, this neural architecture gets stronger. When these children arrive in adulthood they enjoy foundational stability. They feel secure and confident, have positive self-regard, and manage emotions in healthy ways. In contrast, children who grow up insecurely attached may lack this neural architecture. They may enter adulthood with foundational instability, experiencing chronic insecurity, emptiness, and negative self-regard, managing emotions in unhealthy ways.
  • When attachment needs are not met well enough in childhood, child parts of self get stuck in time. From then on, those wounded 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 painful emotions with unhealthy 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, watch the video below.

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