Therapeutic Metaphors for Children and the Child Within – Book Review

Metaphors for child within cvrBOOK ~ Therapeutic Metaphors for Children and the child within (1986, first ed). By Mills & Crowley. 230 pages of content. 53 illustrations, drawings made by children used to illustrate therapeutic anecdotes.

The first ed is available for cost of shipping or shipping+$1.00 here

A second ed. just came out for $35. The Look Inside of first edition is here: They primarily added only a new final chapter.

From what I can see of it online, the 2nd ed. looks to be mainly a caring effort to move this wonderful text into the college textbook market. I agree; this appears to be a wonderful college textbook for perhaps all Marriage-Family counseling-psychology; and, school counselor courses.


I’m old enuf to think about how my grandchildren might find, stumble upon, or become trained in, what a significant few in our generation learned as Energy Medicine.

I’m also a trained Waldorf teacher. I also wonder how my grandchildren can find, stumble upon, or become introduced to whole-child K-12 education. In mid-2017, Team Machine seems to be beating the pants off of Team Human.

Over the decades, as I’ve watched myself and others come to Energy Medicine; clearly, exploring and connecting with your own inner child appears to be the single biggest key for most people.

Inner child work is not the only doorway into truly human values and compatible therapeutic methods. Chiropractic, acupuncture and osteopathy, are other ways. Still, it’s easy to argue from several directions, the Inner Child is probably the bigger entryway, for more people.

I believe the LACK of a human-valued, whole-brained approach with an explicit ecumenical spirituality plank, is why both Touch for Health and Donna Eden’s Meridian Tracing have aged, dated and have declined enrollment.

For years now, I could find no classic Inner Child book or video to recommend to people on the Inner Child. This book may be it. If you have another recommendation, please email me, HealingToolbox-at-gmail . com

One reason an effective intro to the Inner Child eludes us is “Inner Child” is not a “thing.” It’s a metaphor; and then, a variety of humanistic, therapeutic methods, to establish and practice self-connection–for those looking for this.

Explaining the inner child in words, is like lecturing on poetry. Any and every verbal explanation (neck-up) pales in comparison to a direct experience of feelings present, uncovering our rich feeling life underneath words.

To get connected, engage and do real work with our own inner child, one-to-one or small group facilitated-structured encounters in psychotherapy, seem to be the primary way people get self-connected. Getting self-connected. is the only way I know of to experience the feeling content of your own inner metaphors.

My story? I got into inner child work thru a week-long humanistic therapy intensive in Re-parenting in the mid-1970s. After this, I accepted the challenge of dowsing and muscle testing, as a path of personal-spiritual experimenting.

This past week I found the above book. It gives me hope the path to Energy Medicine can be wider. How? By focusing on a tiny byway in humanistic counseling-therapy, child therapy from the 1980s. How is child therapy a doorway into learning Energy Medicine?

Think about it; in child therapy, children’s natural extaversion is already present and must be acknowledged. A child’s concrete thinking and sanguine qualities can’t be ignored. In child therapy, a child’s POV already exists, does not have to uncovered or “worked for” as in adults-only situations. The child consciousness must be acknowledged ‘prima facie;’ and so, counterpoints any contracted-regidified Conscious Waking Self POV, from the neck-up.

More than any other branch-byway of humanistic psychotherapy I can think of, child therapy situations are a close analogue for therapists-to-be, to shed their own inhibitions and prejudices about the Inner Child.

I can put this more simply: Child therapy situations easily become elegant, metaphor-fairy-tales for overcoming adult stuckness and burnt-out helping professionals. If you know anything about child therapy, parents are often the first to fail at acknowledging the child’s consciousness; and, acknowledging it as distinct-different from adultness. Training in child therapy is one of very places IN THE WORLD to learn about and learn therapeutic approaches useful in a child’s world.

If Energy Medicine therapists-to-be are your students, consider how child therapy situations are a ready-made real-life Ericksonian fairy tale set up, where inhibitions and prejudices about the Inner Child, in self and in clients, can and will arise naturally.

Want proof? Want to test this out? See how you respond to these sub-heading from the book:

– A Teaching Metaphor: Sammy the Elephant and Mr. Camel,

– Family Drawings,

– The “Pain Getting Better” book,

– “Mr. T” (cartoon version) to the rescue,

– Scooby Doo to the rescue,

– With a little help from my Smurfs.

If any of these raise antipathy in you; or, disinterest: let me tell you, you are missing out on magical methods you can use with children and adults, in any holistic-humanistic mode you choose.

22 names for the inner child

The authors like and use the phrase “out of conscious sensory systems.” If alternative names for the Inner child are new to you, I point you to Mr. Google. Search for: “22 names for the inner child.” “Unconscious” is a synonym for “inner child;” “out of conscious sensory systems” is another synonym.

Before finding this book, I thought Brief Therapy, being newer, was a better intro to Energy Medicine than Erickson. SFBT from the 1990s has a better balance of NT~NF than earlier Depth Psychology or Ericksonian lit. Therapeutic Metaphors for Children makes clear to me, Erickson–viewed as a prelude to the Inner Child of the 1960s-1970s–is an even bigger doorway into Energy Medicine for students.

If you’ve been exposed to Milton Erickson literature, you know the usual framing is ‘Erickson was prelude to NLP.’ This too is helpfully and briefly addressed. NLP methods of establish rapport thru spoken predicates and eye accessing cues, are portrayed as wonderfully supportive for child therapists. From an Energy Medicine student training viewpoint, I now think ‘Erickson as prelude to the Inner Child’ is the more accurate and useful historical frame.

Chart: The unconscious in psychology

The first 50 pages of the book felt clunky to me. Working professionals may skip this and read last. The first 50 pages expands on the included chart, “Historical Overview: The unconscious in psychology.” The chart ends with Ericksonian approaches; presumably 1986, the book’s publication year.

This means the major innovations of Energy Medicine (1985-2005), gained thru converging self-muscle-testing and ecumenical spirituality, with everything in the chart, are not represented.

The book’s early clunkiness works to its advantage this way; it’s not hyper intellectual, abstract nor dissociated. It’s topics are obvious, elementary, simple and presented thru anecdotes, just the way psych-counseling students are likely to find most accessible and appealing. Compared to Old-School Depth-Psychology analytical texts, all pre-Inner Child and pre-muscle-testing; well, there is no comparison.

Over its 1986 history of “the unconscious in psychology,” it overlays a foundation of Ericksonian ideas-methods, presented primarily thru Erickson’s personal bio, personal trials and over-comings, progressing to excerpted therapeutic stories.

Wonderfully subversive

After the first 50 pages, the authors change course. The book progresses in a remarkable and possibly unique fashion. A more expansive iNtuitive Feeler (NF) approach is taken for the rest of the book. Each chapter veers further and further, more and more radically towards the world of the child: stories of therapeutic success with ‘the child within the child’ and ‘the child within the adult’ using metaphor, art therapy, puppetry and the like.

Here’s where I celebrate the authors as ‘wonderfully subversive.’ I put this book down several times this week, saying, “That’s enuf, I get it; yeah, I know that stuff; nothing new here for me.”

A few days later, looking back on my own resistance to reading the book, I see something perhaps unique in Energy Medicine lit and probably in inner Child lit too: the book challenges my resistance to my connection with my own inner child.

The book directly stimulates my resistance to words, phrases and ideas which seem “childish” to me. The book stirs up my biases and prejudices towards my own child nature.

By persevering with this book, I worked thru more of my own Conscious Waking Self “elitism”–only things and ideas from the neck-up can be “good.” Things from the neck-down are childish, “when I grew up, I put away my childish things.”

Those reading this with clinical experience with clients resistant to their own child-like nature, will be reminded this is what stuck clients are often stuck on: reasons why they can’t, and why they won’t, get down on one knee, have compassion for and listen to, the viewpoints of a child in distress, the one inside them.

How much of the intelligence of the book’s structure is deliberate? I suspect a good deal of it is an accident of history and publishing. 1986 was a very creative “flux” period. It was in the midst of John Bradshaw’s fad of the “wounded inner child.” A book straddling, Erickson, NLP, Inner Child, Energy Medicine, child-therapeutics is a kind of snapshot of the therapeutic cross-currents of 1985, what evolved into Holistic-Humanistic Psychology 2.0; or perhaps more simply, Goethean Holistic Psychology.

This book could perhaps also be called an ‘Ericksonian intro to the Child Within.’ That’s saying something. Every other Erickson book I’ve read is analytical-intellectual to the point of driving away iNtuitive Feelers (NFs), the more talented and innovative of the two types of iNtuitives.

This lively and accessible book stands in wonderful contrast with the very sincere but now dry-seeming iNtuitive Thinker (NT) Energy Medicine texts, circa 2001; including, David Feinstein’s and Fred Gallo’s fine efforts.

It may be this book is uniquely organized for training future Energy Medicine practitioners and self-healers, a happy serendipity I am delighted to share with you.

If you get stuck in reading this or how to teach it, please give me a call.

Notes ~ History of the unconscious in psychology 2017 sketch: Hypnosis > Erickson/NLP > Therapeutic metaphors for children > muscle testing, self-testing > ‘God is my Partner’


Reviewer Bruce Dickson can be found at

Amazon Author Central page

There you will find three book series:

– Best Practices in Energy Medicine.

– Holistic Brain Balance,

– Group Process as an Art-form Series; Putting group process at the center of thriving, Progressive orgs

Even more Holistic Paradigm ideas


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