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10 Things to Expect in Your First Counseling Session

Have you ever wondered what happens in the first counseling session? I thought you might, so I wrote this article about it.

The first session is an assessment, not counseling per se. I need to get to know you before jumping into the counseling phase. I ask a lot of questions and listen closely to your answers. I want to understand you as a unique individual. You may also ask me questions to determine if we are a good fit.

1. I’ll review your intake questionnaire with you and get a crystal clear picture of your goals.
2. We’ll discuss where you are now and what past factors are affecting your current life. This will take more than one session, but I want to get an overview in the first session. We won’t have time to go into lots of details.
3. We look at the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.
4. We begin to design a plan for moving from “here” to “there.”  Here’s an analogy: If you were going to build a house, you would begin with a blueprint. We start designing the blueprint in the first session. It often takes more than one session to create the blueprint. If the plan is not prepared adequately, the success of the project will be inefficient and more likely to fail. I ask for your patience during this phase. This is the first step to help you achieve your goals.
5. We’ll talk about what has worked and what has not worked in the past so I can help you more efficiently.
6. You’ll tell me how you cope with stressors so I can help you respond more effectively.
7. I’ll begin to learn about your personality and help you understand yourself better.
8. We’ll start to build rapport, the most essential element in the counseling relationship.
9. At the end of the first meeting, we will both determine if we feel like we are a good match. If not, I’ll do my best to give you referrals.
10. If we both choose to proceed, I’ll gather more information in the second session. If we are finished reviewing your intake questionnaire, we’ll develop a treatment plan. We are still in the planning stage so please be patient. After the “blueprint” is completed, we’ll jump into the counseling phase.

If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to address them. I like to have open communication. No question is too small. I want to serve you in the best way possible so I need to know what you are thinking, feeling and wanting.

These situations are not a good fit for me. I’ll do my best to give you referrals.
• Alcohol and/or drug abuse
• Current domestic violence
• Suicidal or homicidal ideation or attempts
• Severe mental illness
• Borderline personality disorder
• Untreated bipolar disorder

*** I do not work with clients who are involved with legal cases where I may be asked to submit my records or to testify in court. I do not write reports to justify absence from work, nor do I write disability reports, workman’s compensation reports or legal reports of any kind. I do not work with child custody cases.

Click here to read about my ideal clients for individual counseling.

Click here to read about couples counseling.

I hope this article has answered most of your questions about what to expect in the first session. I’m here to help you create the most meaningful and fulfilling life possible.

If you’d like a complimentary 10-minute phone call to see if we are a good fit, please click here to complete the Contact Form.

Benita A. Esposito, MA is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Blairsville and Atlanta, Georgia. She is also a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor in North Carolina, and she offers life coaching and spiritual counseling around the globe. She counsels adults who experience anxiety, stress, trauma, PTSD and grief. Specializations include highly sensitive people and couples counseling.

Click here for credentials.

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Covid-19 Zoom Support Group 4/9/20

I hope you and your family are well during this Covid-19 pandemic. If you’re experiencing difficulty, know that you are in my prayers.
Even if you aren’t experiencing distress personally, you may be feeling the collective free-floating anxiety. If you’d like some emotional and spiritual support, please join us for a free Zoom support group this Thursday 4/9/20 at 7pm Eastern.
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Purpose of the Zoom Group
This is a gathering place to receive support during our time of social distancing. By coming together, we’ll get through this crisis with more resilience and less anxiety. We heal best in community.
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Activities
  • We’ll share struggles and concerns.
  • You’ll receive emotional support and empathy from listening ears.
  • You’ll learn tools to help you grow emotionally and spiritually.
  • We’ll pray for each other and the world as we seek God’s guidance.
  • We’ll share blessings in disguise.
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Who’s Invited: You, your friends, family and acquaintances.
Please invite your friends and post on social media.
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When: Thursday, April 9, 2020 at 7pm-8pm Eastern
There’s a maximum of 100 seats available. Sign up now to save your seat.

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How Join this Free Zoom Meeting

***Advance registration is required.***
3) Click here to Send me an email and say, “I’d like to join the Covid Zoom support group on 4/9/20.” I’ll email you instructions.
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Facilitators
Benita A. Esposito, MA is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Blairsville and Atlanta, Georgia. She counsels adults who experience anxiety, stress, trauma, PTSD and grief. She specializes in highly sensitive people and couples counseling.
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George Heilner, MA, LPA is a psychologist in North Carolina. He worked for many years in community mental health. He does psychological consults for Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital and has been leading a program for veterans with combat-related PTSD for 14 years.
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Special thanks to:
Coordinator of Pastoral Care Ministries at Good Shepherd Church, Rev. Delmer Chilton, who will lead us in the opening and closing prayer. This event is sponsored by Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Hayesville, North Carolina.
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Expanded Counseling Services During Covid-19

The federal government allows me to offer psychotherapy to people outside of Georgia during this national emergency. If your state licensing board approves it, we can meet via Zoom. If you have Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance, I can process it for you. It’s easy to get started. Contact me for a free 10-minute get-acquainted phone call to see if we are a good fit.
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Deep Emotional Healing Retreat Fall 2020

This is a semi-private intensive retreat. October 3-4, 2020

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Early bird discount: Save $25 by August 3, 2020.

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Excavate and express your radiant Authentic Self …

the person God meant you to be.

Maximum of 6 participants. Register now to insure your seat.

Venue: Young Harris, Georgia USA

Unresolved emotional wounds decrease our ability to create fulfilling relationships and a meaningful career. They contribute to stress, dis-ease, anxiety and depression. But the good news is, you can heal.

Who Should Attend? Adults. Singles and couples are welcome.

Prerequisites: 3 private sessions for new clients must be completed at least one month before the retreat. Please apply now to get started with your private sessions if you are a new client. Complete the Contact Page for a complimentary10-minute get-acquainted phone chat to see if we are a good fit.

Why Attend this Retreat?

Relationship issues: Do you get emotionally triggered when you have conflicts and it takes a long time to recover? Wish your relationships were more fulfilling? Do you find yourself repeating unwanted patterns?

Spirituality: Do you get thrown off-center when things don’t go your way? Do you want to feel whole all the time, no matter what people do?

Mindset and Mood: Do limiting thoughts and “monkey-mind chatter” generate anxiety or depression? Do you procrastinate, hoping conflicts will just go away?

Health: Do you experience physical illness or pain? Do you suspect that unhealed emotional wounds may be a contributing factor?

Career: Do you want to create a meaningful career where you can be your Authentic Self? Do you sense the creative reservoir within, but you don’t fully express your gifts in the world?

Work-Life Balance: Do you find yourself being so busy that you have trouble finding enough time for your loved ones and down-time for yourself?

If you answered “yes” to many of these questions, I want you to know that you don’t have to continue to suffer. This retreat can help you make deep core changes … more than you think is possible in one weekend.

Retreat venue. Photo credit: Benita A Esposito

Retreat venue. Photo credit: Benita A Esposito

“I just wanted to thank you again for hosting such a wonderful and inspirational weekend retreat. I continued to ride the wave all the way home! As I reflected on one of the weekend’s more intense moments I found myself crying tears of despair, but they were instantaneously transformed into tears of joy as I instinctively felt comfort from the Divine. Thanks to your guidance, I now know how to access the healing, the answers, the wisdom and the love.” ~B.M., Computer Programmer

This retreat will help you …

Raise your relationships, career, health and spirituality to a whole new level of fulfillment.

Receive insights so compelling that you naturally flow into effective action instead of getting bogged down in self-defeating patterns.

Experience rigorous yet gentle leadership so you stop procrastinating and effectively reach your goals.

Allow God’s love to heal you and release wave after wave of creativity. Bask in the sweetness of spiritual intimacy, drawing ever closer to God. Enjoy accelerated healing in the beauty of our mountain lake.

  1. You’ll transform life patterns that no longer serve you.
  2. You’ll heal emotional wounds so you can create what is most meaningful in your life.
  3. You’ll be better equipped to create flourishing relationships.
  4. You’ll connect with your Authentic Self and God so you can feel whole all the time.
  5. You’ll develop self-compassion so you accept yourself right where you are, flaws and all.
  6. You’ll learn skills to reduce physical and emotional pain. Your body will feel safer to unwind and relax. You’ll heal faster.
  7. You’ll experience the sweetness of spiritual intimacy and unconditional love in a group of like-hearted companions. Feeling safe helps you open up.

Last night while soaking in the hot tub, I had a mental slideshow of past retreats and how transformative they’ve been for me.  For many years there’s been a deep ache inside of me because my father didn’t affirm me. This unresolved pain caused great difficulty with my romantic relationships. During the breathwork session at the last retreat, while I was in a dreamy state, I appeared as a radiant bride and my Dad finally gave me the adoration I have wanted all my life. Now six months later, I still feel the love that was planted in me during that retreat. What a priceless journey, worth more than gold!  – T.H, Entrepreneur

What Makes This Retreat So Powerful?

This retreat is a safe place for you to dive deep into emotional healing so you can experience major transformation in a compressed time.

Private counseling sessions of 50 minutes don’t allow for this kind of deep healing. You have an entire weekend to heal layer after layer. Your Authentic Self will shine so much more brightly.

You will benefit from my four decades of professional counseling expertise, but the most powerful healer is the Holy Spirit.

This retreat is custom-tailored to the small group of 4-6 participants.

–>If you’d like to see if this retreat is a good fit for you, please complete the Contact Form for a complimentary 10-minute get-acquainted phone chat. I look forward to hearing from you.

Location: A home overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains and Lake Chatuge. Bordered by the Chattahoochee National Forest. Young Harris, GA. Two hours from Atlanta, Chattanooga and Asheville.

*** If you are allergic to cats, tell me know before you apply so we can discuss if this retreat is appropriate for you.

“As we closed the retreat, I felt, probably for the first time in my life, a deep grief that I would be leaving a group of people that meant so much to me. It’s rare for me to have a deep desire to continue to be a part of new people’s lives, and have them be a part of mine. This is one of the gifts that I received this past weekend. My path in life has been a solitary one, and I mostly liked it that way, but at the same time I felt lonely, isolated, and different. I never before realized how much I wanted to share myself with others, and to share their path and their experience.” E.W., Software Development Consultant

Retreat Activities. You will complete a questionnaire two to three weeks before the retreat telling me exactly what you want to experience in this retreat. I will design processes to meet your specific needs. The agenda remains fluid throughout the retreat so that everyone’s goals are met.

There will be several types of experiential learning formats that facilitate deep transformation:

(1) I will coach one person while the group learns vicariously. Group members learn more than they ever thought possible by observing someone else being coached. We have Q&A sessions to answer all your questions.

(2) Several people with similar issues will participate in a transformational process simultaneously.

Photo credit: Benita Esposito

(3) We will have at least one long Breathwork session. Breathwork is my most effective tool for generating deep spiritual-psychological-emotional-physical transformation.

Note: Read all these pages before you apply.  Breathwork is an intense transformational process. That’s why it is important that you read all the following posts before inquiring about the retreat.

Read this description of Breathwork.

Read these client stories on Breathwork.

Read this Breathwork Q&A discussion.

Click to read FAQs – What is it like to attend a Deep Emotional Healing Retreat?

TallulahGorgeFalls BEsposito

Tallulah Gorge by Benita Esposito

(4) Short lectures, written exercises, hand-outs, movement to music, mindfulness, deep breathing, relaxation, body-awareness activities, and didactic conversations.

“I had never really even entertained the idea of doing a retreat. Scared me to death. This time I had some help coaxing me to go, but I knew I would do it anyway. Once my spirit decided it was the place to be, then it was so powerful that I had to surrender. So far it’s been one life changing experience after another. Right now I am flying. Can you tell? I mean high! I feel like running up this path barefooted if I have to. What an amazing life I have!” – V.S., Psychotherapist

Agenda: Saturday and Sunday

Arrive at 9:00-9:15am *

Group 9:30am – 12:30pm

Break  12:30 – 2:30pm

Group  2:30 – 5:30pm

Saturday evening: group dinner

Please be flexible on the ending time Sunday to accommodate the needs of the group.

We will take one long break during the afternoon to walk at the lake, meditate, nap or deepen friendships. It’s your choice.

This semi-private retreat consists of 4-6 people. If we have 4 people, we will meet five hours on Sunday, instead of six hours.

Note: Every retreat is different and is designed to meet the needs of the specific participants. Some people attend retreats for several years, deepening their growth and renewing friendships with other participants.

“My cheek muscles have been sore since I returned from the retreat. Could this be from smiling so much that it hurts? I have to say, when I left the retreat I had some good gut wrenching cries of loss and now…. wow, I do believe that joy is here. I am walking around singing, laughing, and just having fun with myself.  I want to spread this around to everyone.”- M.F., Technical Trainer

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Photo Benita A Esposito

Facilitator: Benita A. Esposito, MA, LPC

Benita is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Christian healer with four decades experience. I respect all spiritual paths that advocate love and respect for life.

Benita’s Bio

Want a preview of my work?

Click here to watch my book video: The Gifted Highly Sensitive Introvert: Wisdom for Emotional Healing and Expressing Your Radiant Authentic Self.

 

“By working with Benita Esposito over the last eight years in one-on-one and in group settings, I have deeply explored the outer reaches of consciousness, and the inner depths of my body-mind-soul-emotions. Via strong empathetic connection with me, Benita has intuitively guided me and coached me through issues so I can create healthy personal and business relationships. I benefit most from group retreats where there is a mixture of people’s energies. The extended time to work on things is crucial to digging deep and making major changes, while the beautiful Nature settings give me the soothing arena I need to process the experiences. Jump at the chance to be involved in a retreat as often as possible – that is my recommendation. If a retreat doesn’t suit you, choose another format. It is an honor and a privilege to have Benita as the co-creator of my true destiny and journey towards my Authentic Self.”  ~ L.S., Software Engineer

 

Tuition includes Saturday night dinner.

$595.00 for two full days.

Early Bird Discount: Save $25.00 by August 3, 2020.

Space is limited to 6 people. Register now to save your seat. Tickets will sell out quickly. Meals and lodging are on your own.

Contact me to receive payment instructions.

***Register early because you must fulfill the prerequisites. Email me via the Contact Page and tell me you want to apply for this retreat.

Remember this Prerequisite:

New clients must have at least 3 private sessions. This can be in-person, on the phone or video-conference. Retreats are profound and intense. I need to make sure you are prepared and that the retreat will be a good fit for you. Please inquire about the fee for these private sessions. Contact me.

List of hotels and restaurants. Book your hotel early. Space fills up quickly because of the Fall leaf season in the mountains.

Photo credit: Benita Esposito

Refund Policy

All refund requests must be made via email. Complete the contact form.
• 30 or more days before the retreat, there will be a full refund minus a $50 processing fee.
• No refunds 0 – 29 days before the retreat, but you may apply your fee to private sessions or another retreat within 1 year, minus a $50 fee.

 

Facilitator’s Cancellation Policy

If an event must be cancelled due to unforeseen events (such as the weather or illness of the facilitator) the event will be rescheduled. Every attempt will be made to accommodate a new date that will suit your needs. If that is not possible, you may apply your tuition to another event of your choice within one year or apply your fee to private sessions.

“When you polish your facet of the diamond, the whole diamond glows more brilliantly.” ~ Benita A. Esposito, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor

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Happy Wife, Happy Life

I’m writing to men here. But if you are a woman who is married, dating or engaged, you’ll probably want to read this, too. Give him a gentle nudge to read it. Read more

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Breathwork Story: How Elaine’s Eating Disorder Was Healed

I’m posting Elaine’s evaluation from our weekend retreat, “Your Authentic Life”, on April 2013 where we did two Breathwork sessions. When Elaine did her inner child healing, it yielded a surprising unexpected result. Her 20-year eating disorder was healed. Elaine gave me permission to publish her evaluation form. Read more

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Breathwork Healing Stories – Laura

Story #1. Laura’s Chronic Shoulder Pain

Laura didn’t think the pain in her right shoulder would ever go away since the injury in 1994, so she didn’t even try to heal it. That was not the intended focus of this breathwork session that took place in 2002. Read more

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Why Breathwork Creates Rapid Changes

Visit the Events Page for all the retreat updates.

While weekly therapy sessions help sustain steady growth, sometimes this may be too slow for you. If you are eager to make faster progress, I’d like to tell you about a technique that creates breakthroughs better than any method I know.

Read more

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11 Tips for Self-Compassion

From the time we were children, our parents taught us how to behave in our family and in society. That’s a good thing when it leads to high-esteem that is coupled with skills to get along well with others.

However, most of my S.M.A.R.T. clients don’t enter adulthood bubbling over with self-worth.

We’re hard workers, but during conflict we may not know how to take care of our selves and meet others’ needs.

We’ve been taught that we should …

1) excel and be conscientious,
2) care about what the neighbors think,
3) stop being selfish and self-centered.

That’s good parenting, don’t you agree?

I agree to some extent, but not when it means losing our sense of identity.

When we think about others much more than we care about ourselves, it leads to unhealthy decisions. We work too much. We over-commit to our favorite causes. We feel guilty if we say ‘no’ when others ask us to help.

In the beginning we may have plenty of energy, but sooner or later we feel exhausted, like we’ve just run a marathon. Our body aches.

We can get by with being run-down once in a while, but this pattern has become a way of life for many of us.

We feel driven. We don’t get enough sleep. We don’t get proper exercise. We don’t schedule breaks to meditate. We don’t take time to prepare healthy foods. We don’t drink plenty of pure water.

This is where self-compassion enters the picture.

If we don’t take good care of ourselves, who will? If we’re not healthy and balanced, it’s difficult to give others quality attention. We can’t think well. We forget things. We get scattered. We get grouchy and critical. We withdraw. We become emotionally reactive.

If we don’t care for our health over a long period of time, we invite severe illnesses like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Our self-care … or lack thereof … impacts our families and our work in major ways.

Have I provided enough evidence that it’s a wise idea to develop self-compassion?

I hope so. However, setting a goal that is motivated by getting away from negative consequences won’t be enough to sustain long-term change. We’ll yo-yo back and forth like people who lose weight and gain it all back.

Self-compassion as a lifestyle begins with a commitment to proactively move toward what is most important to you.

I encourage you to adopt new values and beliefs. You can re-parent yourself right now. Put an “X” by the following statements that appeal to you.

1. Self-compassion is just as important as compassion for others.

2. I am as important as everyone else. No more and no less.

3. Setting myself on fire is not required to prove my love for others.

4. I am worthy of love and attention, just like everyone else.

5. God loves me, even in my brokenness.

6. My body is the temple of my spirit. It is important to take care of it.

7. The only real moment is “now.” I want to be as present as possible for my loved ones and myself. To do this, I need to be well-rested.

8. Good quality sleep and meditation are essential to physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health.

9. I choose to develop an Inner Guardian to ensure that I take good care of myself.

10. I choose to share my values about self-care and self-compassion. It is good for us all. I’ll say to my friends and co-workers, “I need balance in my life, and I support you to develop balance in your life. Let’s help each other develop healthy routines and be accountability buddies.”
11. I choose to co-create win-win solutions, rather than swinging between winning and losing.”

This is a great start. If you’re saying to yourself, “Easier said than done,” you’re right. Many of us have good ideas we don’t implement. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Counseling helps transform the unconscious blocks that perpetuate self-defeating patterns. Life Coaching helps you effectively implement your good ideas so you flourish.

Here are a three ways to receive more education and support:

1) Join me for a “Self-Compassion” workshop on Saturday, March 17, 2018 at Good Shepherd Church, Hayesville North Carolina. There are three presenters and the program runs 9:30am-3:30pm. My part of the program is 2-3:00pm. Lunch is included. Contact Good Shepherd Church for details.
Phone: 828-389-3397. 495 Herbert Hills Road, Hayesville, NC 28904

2) Schedule an appointment with me for professional counseling or life coaching: in-person at my office, on the phone or video-conference from your home.

3) Attend the Highly Sensitive Person Retreat: May 19-20, 2018.

Contact me for a complimentary 10-minute call to see if my services are a good fit for you. Click here to complete the Contact Page.

Benita Esposito, MA is a licensed professional counseling, life coach and spiritual counselor.

Copyright 2018. All Rights Reserved. The Esposito Institute, Inc.

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Breathwork Workshop

1 day Saturday, March 10, 2018 9:30am-5:30pm

Young Harris, Georgia

In the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains

Early Bird: February 3. Save $29.00

 

While weekly therapy sessions help sustain steady growth, sometimes you want to take giant leaps forward. I’d like to tell you about Breathwork, a mind-body-spirit technique that creates breakthroughs better than any method I know. Read more

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Inner Voice Dialogue

How to Silence your Inner Critic, Access your Authentic Self and Resolve Internal Conflicts

As a young psychotherapist, my mentors told me that I was one of the most talented counselors they had seen. Even though I was successful in my career, self-doubt made me feel insecure inside. I hid it well. I looked strong and competent, and to a degree I was. But when intimate relationships teetered, I didn’t feel grounded and my faith felt shallow. My body ached from muscular tension and GI tract problems plagued me.

I began a deeper exploration of my childhood development that shaped my self-concept. I asked myself: Who am I really? Who is my Authentic Self? With whom have I identified that is not the real me?

My mentors introduced me to Internal Family Systems theory. In this model, we each have several inner family members. I began to notice internal conversations that had previously been outside my conscious awareness. These inner dialogues were causing low self-esteem and difficulties in relationships.  

I was overly identified with my Critical Parent and my Adapted Child.

Who I am … my Authentic Self … is different than these inner family members, but I didn’t know it at the time. Their voices were so loud in my head.

1. My inner Critical Parent told my Adapted Child: “You’re not good enough. You’re stupid.” He cracked the whip relentlessly, telling me to do more, faster, and better. He gave me commands such as, “You should be smart. Look beautiful. Be polite and poised. Be perfect. Try harder even when you’re exhausted.” 

My mentors helped me identify these messages that came from my mother and father when I was a child. The messages were still unconsciously running my mind, like a computer program operates your laptop. 

2. My inner Adapted Child complied with my Critical Parent’s orders. Being a good girl and pleasing people was the best way to earn the strokes she desperately needed. But she didn’t feel loved if she didn’t perform well. My Adapted Child manipulated people’s impressions of her to gain acceptance and recognition. Hiding her insecurity, she jumped through hoops and turned herself into a pretzel to be what she thought others wanted her to be. On the inside, stress grew until she collapsed in exhaustion, and then she got depressed. Her body ached from all the stress. Then the Critical Parent harped at her to get up and stop wallowing in self-pity. She complied and the whole cycle started over again. 

Childhood issues carry into adulthood.

I didn’t feel enough emotional warmth or physical affection from my mother or father, and as a result I didn’t learn how to love myself very well. For years I longed for nurturance from my father. As an adult, I was obsessed with having a romantic relationship because society told me that would make me happy and fill the void inside. That never worked for long.

When I was in my mid-forties, it became clear that I needed to generate emotional intimacy within my self instead of waiting for a man to provide it for me.   

I used inner voice dialogue to help develop self-love along with praying for God’s guidance. I strengthened the dialogues between my inner Nurturing Parent, my inner wise Adult and my inner Free Child. 

3. My Nurturing Parent loves unconditionally. She adores me and cherishes me when I am successful and when I fail. She affirms me and gives me compliments. She’s my biggest cheerleader.

4. My Adult non-judgmentally observes all my internal family members. She monitors their conversations with each other, or lack thereof. She notices when internal and external relationships are amiss. She’s a wise sage who pierces through illusions and delusions. 

5. My Free Child is playful, creative, intuitive, imaginative, witty and full of life force energy. My Free Child comes out to play when she feels safe with people she trusts. She’s the creativity in my poetry. She’s the sparkle in my eyes. She’s the empath who cries when people ache. 

My Inner Free Child hides for two reasons. 

(a) When my Critical Parent insists on being productive and my Adapted Child complies, there’s no time for play. The Critical Parents says, “Work hard. That’s how we get ahead in life.” There’s no time to relax and regenerate. 

(b) When my Free Child feels threatened by conflict, she disappears into her turtle shell for safe-keeping. Scared and tense inside, my whole body loses energy and vitality.

Adults who were traumatized as children often withdraw to protect themselves. 

Hiding my real self when I felt vulnerable was a smart survival strategy to keep myself safe as child. But if I didn’t learn skills to stay connected with my Authentic Self and manage conflict, I would never develop healthy relationships or stand up for myself or free-up my creativity.

I needed to learn how to self-soothe, assert myself wisely, set boundaries, and return myself to a zone of resilience where I felt centered and whole. 

My Nurturing Parent and my Adult became the Guardian for my Inner Children and stood up to my Critical Parent and said: 

You’ve been running the show all our life. You think work and discipline are king. Well, I have some information for you. Rest and relaxation are also important. Eight hours of quality sleep are vital. So is play and recreation and exercise. Afternoon meditations help my body feel much better. 

If we don’t feel rested, it’s hard to experience high quality of life.

Your driven work ethic has caused physical pain, injuries and chronic muscle pain. You don’t think we have time to stretch and exercise and that creates more distress in our body. That’s not OK any more. Health and vitality are essential. You don’t get to rule our inner family any more. We insist that you listen to the rest of us. Stop being a bully. You’re hurting us. 

Critical Parent: Wow, I’ve never heard you speak so strongly. I’m shocked. You’ve got my attention. I’m willing to listen. 

Nurturing Parent and Adult: Good! Thank you for listening. First of all, we need to create balance in our life. Do you agree to make health a top priority instead of work, work, work.  Go, go, go. Busy, busy, busy? Are you willing to listen to all our needs and make wiser decisions?

Critical Parent: Yes, I’m willing to listen and make health a top priority. But it will be hard for me because I am very attached to working. I agree to listen to you and take you seriously instead of dismissing you. Will you help me by reminding me that other things are important, too?

Nurturing Parent and Adult: Yes. Thank you for being willing to work as a team. That’s a good start. We will remind you in the future to back off when you get obsessive about work. Promise to listen to us?

Critical Parent: OK, OK. I’m crying “uncle.”

Nurturing Parent and Adult: Good. Taking a deep breath … For starters, we are going to meditate ½ hour every afternoon or take a nap whenever we feel tense and tight and need to regain energy. No more pressing through the pain because work is more important. We will get the work done and feel good in the process, OK? You might not be happy because the work won’t get done as fast as you think it should. You’re going to have to be more accepting of things getting done a little slower. A half hour or an hour slower. We promise you that we’ll be even more creative and smart. And we’ll be much healthier so as we age. We’ll have more joy and vitality. We’re not just looking at the present, but our future. Can you get on board with us here? 

Critical Parent: Makes good sense to me. I’ll support you in this.

Nurturing Parent and Adult: OK, good. Don’t give us a hard time when we tell you it’s time to meditate or take a nap or exercise. We’re writing meditation and exercise into our daily schedule. 

Critical Parent: OK, I can use my task-master propensity in a positive way … to make sure we take time to rest and create health and a sense of well-being.

Conclusion

This is my example. Your Critical Parent might not cry uncle so quickly. You may need to dialogue longer. We often need to ask the Critical Parent to step back so the other voices can be heard. 

We all have our challenges. None of us is perfect. When we engage in inner voice dialogues with all of our internal family members, we can examine the coping strategies we have used since childhood that may not serve us well as adults. We can uncover who we really are … our Authentic Self. We can calm our bodies and manage our emotions better. We can make wiser choices. A rich internal relationship develops when all of our inner family members are willing to listen to each other and make compromises that benefit the whole system.  

If you’re wondering how this fits into your spiritual life: In my opinion, the combination of the evolved wise Adult, the Nurturing Parent and the inner Child comprise our Authentic Self, our spirit. It reflects the spirit of God that lives inside of us.

Now It’s Your Turn

I’m hoping you’re inspired by my example. But my story won’t have a lasting impact unless you take the next step. Write your own inner voice dialogue to sort out conflicts and access wisdom from your Authentic Self.

1. Schedule time for your Inner Voice Dialogue every morning or night. Keep the date with yourself. You deserve this time. Get quiet. Breathe. Play relaxing music. 

 2. Notice your thoughts and feelings. Are there any conflicts?

What’s upsetting you? If nothing, that’s ok.

Focus on what you appreciate. Write about that. See where it goes. 

3. Ask yourself, “What does each family member want to say and to whom? Check in with your …

Adult

Nurturing Parent

Free Child

Critical Parent 

Adapted Child

You might also have a Rebellious Child or Adolescent.

Or maybe you want to dialogue with God or your Spirit. Ask:

“What do you want to tell me regarding this situation?”

“How would you have me respond to a certain situation or person?”

4. Write the dialogue, word for word as it occurs to you. Don’t censor it. Don’t be concerned if you are doing it right. Just write from stream of consciousness. 

5. After you’re finished writing, review the dialogue. Does it sound wise and loving? If not, edit it. Ask a trusted friend if it sounds wise and loving.

5. Choose at least one specific action step. Write it on your schedule. Keep the promise to yourself. 

Inner Voice Dialogue is one way you can create core shifts in your life pattern and get to know your Authentic Self. One step at a time. Day after day. I recommend you journal for 60 days to learn this method. You will enjoy richer emotional and spiritual intimacy within yourself, with others and with God. 

Looking for a Mentor?

This short article can’t cover all that I’d like to say about this method. So if you are interested, please ask for coaching or counseling, or attend one of my intensive retreats.

Your Authentic Life RetreatOne day, Saturday, September 16, 2017. Young Harris, Georgia

Deep Emotional Healing Retreat Two days, October 28-29, 2017. Young Harris, Georgia. Note prerequisites: 3 private sessions.

Note: Inner family members are not the same as multiple personalities that are experienced in dissociative identity disorder (DID, formerly known as multiple personality disorder).

Contact Information

Author: Benita A. Esposito, MA, LPC

If you want help to learn Inner Voice Dialogue, contact me. I’m happy to help with my Life Coaching, Spiritual Counseling and Psychotherapy services. Choose from in-person office visits, phone or video-conference sessions from the comfort of your home. 

Complete the Contact Form to send me an email.

Offices in Sandy Springs (Atlanta) and Blairsville, Georgia. 

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