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Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy

By Melanie Smithson, MA, ADTR, LPC, CHt

The Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy (DNMS) is a psychotherapy approach which helps child parts get unstuck from the past, so they can grow to meet their full potential now. Parts get stuck in the past to the degree their childhood needs were not adequately met at a given developmental stage. For example, a 13 year old who was not encouraged to develop her own thoughts and opinions may rely heavily on those around to make decisions for her, not trusting her own. And an infant felt unseen by his parents may look for constant validation as an adult. Unmet childhood needs often result in a child having negative self-beliefs. These are naturally formed to make sense out of senseless situations (i.e. when a child is treated badly by a parent during early development, he/she may develop a belief ‘I must deserve to be treated badly’). These negative self-beliefs often contribute to a host of problems in adulthood.
The DNMS was synthesized by psychotherapist Shirley Jean Schmidt, MA, LPC from a number of well-known therapies, such as ego state therapy, inner child work, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR therapy). It is based on what is known about how a child’s brain develops within a healthy family.

The DNMS uses three internal Resource parts of self (a Nurturing Adult Self, a Protective Adult Self, and a Core Self) to meet the needs of wounded child parts now. These resources can provide the necessary corrective emotional experience that child parts require in order to get unstuck from the past. This needs meeting work helps child parts feel safe and securely attached to competent caretakers now, so they can safely shift attention from the past (which has seemed like the present) to real present time. Once a child part is totally unstuck from the past, he or she will no longer overreact to disturbing events. In other words, when a disturbing event happens, it will be experienced by adult parts of self, and handled in a rational appropriate fashion. A disturbing event will not evoke irrational, child-like fears and beliefs in any child part that has healed.

A healthy, supportive, nurturing relationship between parent and child has a direct impact on the development of the child’s orbital prefrontal cortex (a part of the brain). The neural pathways formed by this loving parent-child relationship are vital for the development of the child’s capacity for emotional self-regulation. The presence of these neural pathways ensures that the child will be able to explore the world, separate from parents, and mature in healthy ways. If these neural pathways are not formed, or not formed well enough, a child will grow up feeling insecure, and the development of normal behaviors (play, exploration, and social interactions) may be impaired. DNMS therapy may be constructing the neural pathways in wounded adults that should have been formed in childhood. After DNMS, clients report feeling more integrated and whole, and better able to manage their emotions.

Parts of self (an engrained state of mind with a point of view) can interact with other parts of self in a cooperative or combative manner. Parts of self can be grownup, normal and happy, or childish and unhappy, and everything in between. The more conflict there is between ego states, the more unhappy a person will be. Sometimes internal conflicts lead to physical complaints, like gastrointestinal problems, chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, headaches, lowered immunity, and other psychosomatic disorders.

Adapted with permission from "The Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy,"
by Shirley Jean Schmidt

Call Melanie's confidential voice mail today to schedule a free consult. 303-271-7659

 
 


 
 

 

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