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5 Core Childhood Emotional Needs

5 Core Childhood Emotional Needs

According to Schema Therapy, all of the psychological problems we encounter as adults have their roots in childhood and adolescent experiences. Specifically, there are 5 Core Emotional Needs that all children have, and when those needs are not met, what results is any of a number of different long-standing beliefs and patterns of relating to others aka schemas, technically termed Early Maladaptive Schemas.

Schemas are thoughts, feelings, sensations, core beliefs, images and memories that serve as organizing principles to interpret information and solve problems. They create the condition that we go through life encountering the same types of relationships, or we repeat the same crappy scenarios again and again. Sound familiar? We’ve all got them. As is often discovered with some pain in adulthood, these schemas are dysfunctional and self-defeating.

Schema Therapy aims to increase psychological awareness, increase conscious control over the schemas, and reduce the frequency, intensity and duration of schema-triggers.

I’ll be sharing more about specific schemas including what they look like and how they work. In this post, I am sharing those 5 crucial childhood emotional needs.

Psychological Needs List

Psychological Needs List

Psychological Needs List

The work of getting to know oneself is some of the most important work that we can do. A big part of this process is getting to know your own needs. We are in a time in our culture when we have grown accustomed to deferring to family, friends or the media to tell us what we need (think advertising, tv, radio, the internet, magazines, etc.). This tendency has completely alienated us from ourselves and our true needs. 

So often when I ask the question of my clients “what are you needing?” their knee-jerk reaction is one of confusion or surprise. “Am I supposed to know that?” is the implied response. 

The process of getting to know our needs serves us, largely, because once we can get clear about what we need, we can employ our natural creativity to begin to find ways to get those needs met. When we have what we need, we feel and exude a sense of peace, wellness and wholeness. 

If you have no idea what you need, start with this list. Look at each category of needs and see what resonates for you. What are you longing for in your life? 

This list was inspired by the work I do with my brave and beautiful clients in my psychotherapy practice. If you are interested in doing the work of self-exploration and think we would be a good fit for therapeutic work together, you can reach out to me here

Also, a nod to the good folks at the Center for Nonviolent Communication for their list that motivated me to write my own. 



Inviting Intuition Imagery Group

I am excited to announce that Whole Self Therapy will soon be offering therapeutic and psycho-educational groups in addition to one-on-one counseling!

Starting in May, when I will be joining colleague Laura Torres, LPC, RYT, to co-facilitate a group focused on cultivating intuition through guided imagery. This will be a small group held in my office over a four week period on Tuesday evenings. The group will include both a didactic/instructional component as well as an experiential imagery piece and will include some expressive art as well.

If you have an interest in connecting to your own internal wisdom, we hope that you will join us! You can email me here for more information or to sign up.


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