What is Reparenting in Therapy? | Kati Morton

– Hey everybody, happy Monday. Now today, we’re going to
talk about reparenting. What is it and why can it be so healing? But before we get into that, I know we have a lot of
new people here; welcome. If you have a question or concern, and you’re wondering if
I’ve talked about it before, just hop onto the search tab
on YouTube, put in my name, Kati Morton, and then some
keywords for your search like family, stress, trauma,
relationships, whatever. I have over 1200 videos, so chances are, I’ve talked about it already. Okay, now let’s talk about reparenting. In therapy, reparenting
is something that is done to help us heal from our parent’s failings when we were young. This could mean that they
were abusive in some way or even just not emotionally
available for us. Either way, we weren’t able to develop a healthy attachment to them and in turn, we can struggle to have
a healthy relationship with ourselves or someone
else as we get older. Reparenting attempts to
figure out what it was that we needed when we
were little and then, give that to ourselves now. This can be done by using
the therapeutic relationship, meaning your therapist
plays the new caretaker role and helps you heal using your relationship with them or we can work
on reparenting ourselves through the relationship
that we have with ourselves. Now I know this can kind of
sound a little hokey bajoki or woo woo, but trust me,
it can really help us heal and finally be able to
move on healthfully. There may be many reasons that we want to try out reparenting. It could be past abuse, it could be constant
criticism from a parent, getting bullied at school,
having to move a lot and change schools all the time, or being in the foster care system. The reasons are endless. But what we are doing is
trying to find that hurt child within us and help it
feel heard and cared for. Because, if we haven’t done that, we may find ourselves
flying off the handle at the smallest trigger,
dissociating a lot, or even ending relationships over silly or insignificant disagreements, even though they fell
like big deals at the time or more accurately, they
fell like big and important things to our inner hurt child. That automatic response is
because something touched on that hurt inner child of
ours and it responds as such. It can make us want to throw a fit, yell loudly at a stranger
or tell a close friend or loved one that we don’t
ever want to see them again. We’re acting out of that hurt inner child. I just say all of this
so that you know that, no, you aren’t crazy,
you’re not making this up. You were just hurt when you were younger and we have to take the
time to heal from that. Okay, so how does reparenting work? Well, one way, like I said before, one way we can be reparented
is by having our therapist fill the role of caregiver
and re-nurture us. Although, I don’t like
this version at all, but many therapists
still say it’s helpful. So, the way that this works
is that your therapist takes on the role of
surrogate parent or caregiver. And they bring us back to
that child like self of ours and they work to fill that missing hole that you may be feeling from your past through intense nurturing. This can be long term, where
you regress and go back into child like you and
work with your therapist to heal the old wounds. This could be through having
your therapist feed you, hold you, offering words of affirmation and emotional support. But this style can also be short term, where you focus on a
few issues or instances and that you had to process through. Maybe there were just a few
little things in your life that you felt you didn’t
get properly parented for. Your therapist can still
act as the caregiver as you work through that. Reparenting this way isn’t
supported by much research. And in my experience,
it’s a bit risky because it can lead to the patient being dependent upon the therapist for their healing. You guys know, I don’t really like that, because we should be in
control of our treatment and we have everything we need to heal. We shouldn’t have to rely
solely on that therapist, especially once we have that relationship, I just feel it can be a little bit messy. But like I said, many therapists out there still believe
strongly that it’s helpful, so I just wanted to tell
you that it does exist, and if it works for you, it works for you. But the other way reparenting
is done and the way that I personally practice is by helping my patients
reparent themselves. This style was created
by Muriel James in 1974, and it focuses on our
strengths and what we can do to help heal our younger self. This style doesn’t seek to
replace our failed caregiver, but instead, tries to help
us learn how to self soothe. You could pretend that it’s your own child who is hurt or upset. Sometimes it can help to
imagine that our inner child is another person that
we care deeply about, and just think, what
would you do or try to do to comfort or calm them down. Think about it. In my practice, I utilize resourcing, also during this, to figure
out what people, places, things we can use to help
calm our system down. Could petting a dog help,
texting with a friend, a favorite memory you can recall, maybe coloring or watching
reruns of The Office. Whatever it is, I work
with my patients to come up with a list, a big long list that can be done any day or time. Then I have them practice them and then have them try and use those thing when their hurt inner child is triggered. If we want to scream
at someone because they cut us off in a
conversation, can we pause, (breathing deeply) and
consider whether or not how we want to react is warranted by the action, see if we feel we’re
acting out of our past pain or not, and proceed accordingly, just slowing down the reaction process. Maybe we call a friend to
vent or do some deep breathing or rub our arms in a soothing way. Doing these things can
help us better manage our emotions, in the
present, while therapy time, on the other hand, will
be spent figuring out what triggers your hurt inner child. Is it when you feel
overlooked, talked down to? Maybe it’s when someone teases us, or when we don’t think our feelings are being taken seriously. This may take some time and some deep and difficult conversations
about our past, but trust me, it will totally be worth it. I honestly think that we can all benefit from some reparenting, because
we all have certain things our parents have done we
probably found upsetting. And we will continue to
try and fill that void with friends, families, even therapists or romantic relationships, until it’s healed. But we are the only ones that
can heal our inner child. Trying to put that onto someone else will only cause us to feel
more wounded and upset because they don’t know what we need and they can’t access
our inner child’s self. Only we can do that. Remember this when you
find yourself getting into yet another codependent
or abusive relationship. That may be a good indication that you should bring this up in therapy
so you can work through it. I hope you found this helpful. There are so many
therapy phrases out there that I always assume everyone understands, so thank you to our amazing community for asking important questions like this. And as always, share your
thoughts or experiences that you’ve had with
reparenting in those comments down below and I will see you next time. Bye! In therapy, breathe,
sorry, I wasn’t breathing. Phew, that’s a problem. And I’m down. (mimicking crash)


  1. Pretty much my BPD and DBT concepts, and no a borderline cant get too emotional with their therapist, had a bad experience with that… I have heard of family systems, mentalization, schema and does surprise me some of the advocates for them are anti DBT, but after several months the mindfulness causes you to deal with the past… and sooo many of the skills taught are obviously targeted to help a wounded inner child and in fact dicipline yourself. How to stand up for yourself in a healthy boundry way.

  2. Can a need for reparenting also shape the kinds of attributes that attract us in prospective significant others?

  3. Thank you so much for this video. Truly helpful and insightful. It's the first time I have heard of reparenting. Great work!

  4. I've worked on reparenting in therapy with my inner child and it was really helpful. My therapist helped me access my inner child self and guided me in what to say and how to comfort my inner child. I didn't practice enough on my own, but I could tell when I was oozing or acting out. That frustrated me and I let my therapist know. We had a great connection and worked well together.

  5. I think there's something to be said for a mixed type of reparenting, including both therapist and self. I am doing Schema Therapy right now, and it uses "limited reparenting." In this modality, the therapist starts out doing the reparenting via visualisations in which the therapist cares for the inner child – but this is done to model healthy adult parenting behaviour for clients, rather than to replace the client's ability to reparent themselves or self-soothe. Once the client has internalised the healthy adult parenting model enough, the therapist slowly transitions them into reparenting themselves in visualisations (ie. they picture the adult self caring for the child self), until the client is the sole person doing the reparenting.

    This is apparently a good way to do it for clients who have had traumatic or abusive childhoods in which there was no healthy parent around to observe and internalise. That was a big issue for me, I know – initially I was horrible at reparenting myself, because I had never had the experience of feeling cared for or protected by a parent, or seeing a competent parent in action. Thus, I had no internal compass for what was healthy reparenting vs. punitive or demanding reparenting, so too often I was too harsh on my inner child and just made her worse. "Seeing" my therapist interact with and care for my inner child taught me a lot about what was helpful and appropriate, and what wasn't. Doing it this way does initially increase dependence on the therapist somewhat, but then transfers all the power and control back to the client when their healthy/adult mind is stronger and they know what to do. I also like that the reparenting by the therapist is all done in visualisation, because it safeguards somewhat against the boundary violations that might happen with actual IRL reparenting activities (eg. hugging).

    Schema Therapy in general, and limited reparenting in particular, have really helped me with my PTSD like other therapies haven't. I highly encourage anyone with complex trauma or similar issues to check it out.

  6. Wouldn't this cross boundaries in therapy? This is so me. I'll be seeing my 7th Therapist for the 1st time on Wednesday. 🙄 I've struggled to feel like my therapist actually care… To me they just see it as a job

  7. I was abused as a child, and sometimes it's hard to learn right from wrong. I love your videos kati because when i used to battle depression i used tk watch your videos, and they would help a lot😊 im so happy to know you because you are one very important person in my life eventhough we don't really know eachother in person❤❤ i love you lots kati, and thank you for your awesome vids!😊😊

  8. I feel like I’ve been subconsciously acting as my own parent on and off for a while now, I didn’t realise it was an actual therapeutic technique that I could actually learn and apply on a larger scale. Thank u Kati! 💞

  9. I did a lot of inner child work in therapy around being able to celebrate. Something that was very healing for me was that my husband organized birthday parties starting with age 6 (on my 26th) to 18. Silly things like arcades, and princess parties. My friends and family were supportive & it meant a lot.

  10. I am Feeling a bit lonely and want to chat with random people perhaps I could make some new friends through it so if you want to chat I’m waiting for it.

  11. I was so relieved when you said we reparent ourselves; the thought of someone else trying it was starting to freak me out a little.

  12. … I think therapists should always be kept distinct from parents. Imagine a child paying their parent for parenting for example – sounds like a very exploitive use of transference.

    I agree that teaching patients to learn new ways is important. What happens if their therapist dies, or they move city etc? Doctors, psychologists, lawyers, therapists…. they’re paid to be professional, not personal – that’s what they r trained to do. It blows my mind that there r ppl out there who think that once they have a license they have the right to do what they want with it. They should be using the knowledge from scientists and other respectfully and carefully, not going out to exploit someone else’s genius to cash in – they’re lucky they even have the privilege of practicing a business with a stranger and all the leniency the behind closed doors allows. A therapist could never fill the shoes of a parent, just like they could and should never a lover, as the context is so very different in any case.

  13. Could you do a video about 'the highly sensitive person'? I wonder what you think about it and whether and how it is a different thing from hypervigilance from PTSD, sensitivity issues from Autism Spectrum Disorder or Sensitivity Processing Disorder.

  14. I'm wondering how this relates to Schema Therapy. Rewatching that video, I feel like Reparenting might be a tool within a Schema approach, or an alternative beginning when expensive therapy time is severely restricted. Is that right?

  15. I've been trying this on myself over the last few months without realising it was an actual thing. Good to know I'm not just grasping at straws 🙂

  16. What can you teach us about memories that I remember in fragments. Like puzzle pieces from very early childhood traumas.

  17. Can you do a video about siblings who were downright cruel and cold hearted? And why they were that way? My sister told me when I was 5 years old if I wanted to see Jesus all I had to do is climb a gate and fall head first downward… That was ONE example , and now as adults she has completely cut us off and actually tells people that we were the cruel ones and cold hearted… And it blows my mind how many people don't realize she is so open about her accusations, shouldn't that tell them she needs attention?

  18. Can you talk about double depression and personality disorders not otherwise specified? There isn’t much info or knowledge about it out there 🙂

  19. I Re-parents-ed myself.

    My parents weren't really equipped or knowledgeable enough to be effective parents – subsequently I entered adulthood with emotional baggage and deep wounds. Complications of addiction with crippled my life for decades.

    Today I'm coming up on 5 years sober.
    I've healed my emotional wounds and subsequently shed the burden of my emotional baggage.

    Recovery I would end relationships over the smallest issues. My emotional vulnerability used to Cripple me in many ways – it was very damaging and hurtful to myself.

    Today I've learned how to create life lessons and teachable moments out of my past trials and tribulations.

    Happy joyous and free free at last free at last.

  20. My mother (with whom I have a great relationship) would always bring me water (and then offer me food) when I was upset. Now, when I feel bad, water has been my go to. It makes me stop for a second and regulate my breath. Water has actually become the best thing for getting me out of a dissociative episode– I run it over my hands or on my face to ground myself.

  21. Hi Katie! I was verbal and physically abused by my father as a child and now I have a hard time with affection. I'm very selective on who I hug or touch, I have to be very comfortable with that person. It's hard to hug my adult children. It's very awkward for me and I don't understand why but I can hug my friend. Do you have other patients that experience this because of the abuse they experienced as a child? I really need to find a good therapist in my area I can talk too, but I find myself hesitating because of trust issues. I wonder is that normal too, to have trust issues? Any advise is helpful! Thank you for your wonderful videos! They are so helpful!!

  22. You're so amazing ….so inspiring and so proud of your work. I am a counsellor in progress and have been learning so much from you <3

  23. I appreciate your videos. Sometimes watching them makes me upset at myself though, as I feel the techniques you describe about self-soothing seem impossible for someone as stupid as me. It feels like I need someone to save me, and I can’t do it because I’m a moron. I hate myself. I feel like I deserve to die.

  24. I didn't know about reparenting until a few days ago.. But I realize it's similar to what I've been doing.. I always wanted a older brother or younger brother.. Sure I have a sister but it's not the same. I wanted those siblings for so long that I eventually started having a way to treat the self as either or.. So whenever the younger brother is in trouble the older brother steps in.. He is a source of protection or support or even guidance.. Whenever the younger brother is injured or tired or hurt the older brother steps in.. But the roles do switch.. But this has had a positive effect on me, I've been able to better take care of the self and even learn to heal old wounds.. am I crazy for doing this? Plz help

  25. I still self sooth with nicotine. Hmm my inner child self soothes with nicotine. I'm confused as to who soothes who. Anyone?

  26. Thank you very much for this video. This really touched me on a personal level because I just got out of a relationship with a girl I was very in love with but had major issues with her father (he had alcohol issues). I feel like a lot of our relationship was with her inner child who was very hurt, scared, needing protection and love. But coherently that was a very hard thing for me to fix. It was a very rough road having that bourdon placed on me. I loved her with all I had in me and tried to help but it was never enough. So this really hit me. Thank you for this because honestly I felt guilty I just didn’t treat her good enough. Which to me explained all of the triggered moments, past traumas etc. But now I see it was her very hurt inner child.

  27. Wow haha just learning this with my counselor. Very comforting to see both you and her say the exact same things. Very reassuring! Especially about the fractured parts, and talking about the inner child.

  28. How do we detach from needing romantic love? Excess material wealth and fame craving are easier, but love is extremely difficult

  29. I have Been so preoccupied by trying to repay my karma. When really instead, it Feels like we simply Dissolve it as a byproduct of raising your vibration.

    When you remember who you are there is no maya/karma, when you forget who you are there is maya/karma

    Karma is an illusion of duality, something happening to something.

    Get out of the dual illusion, get out of karma


  30. REALLY URGENT QUESTION – I cant let go of jealousy trauma toward Tokyo and the girl who broke my heart inconceivably badly who lives there now living her dream life while mine is comically falling apart at the seams as I am ripped from the world into this utterly hellish at times awakening. I ache in the ego separation toward Tokyo and this girl that bring me STRAIGHT back into pain and duality and a hostile, EXTREMELY DEEPLY wounded, cut up ego.

    A permanent dormant thorn in my ego, and anything remotely associated with the pain complex. It is the ultimate place of uncomfortably comfortable addiction for me.

    The trauma has led me through alcoholism, taking many drugs, CRUSHINGLY FUTILE HOLLOW one night stands and extreme low self esteem and unworthiness, addiction to a girl that was my massage therapist who has the same mannerisms as her, etcetera.

  31. I was rejected by my Twin and it wasnt mutually felt, and the heartbreak sparked my awakening. I am unsure whether she was a true twin and in our contract she was to reject me and break my heart to catalyse my awakening, or if she was a false twin?
    Very confusing!!!

  32. in a weird way i feel like the abuse has changed my voice in some manner. can keeping quiet make your voice sound small? my vocals sound like it use a good stretch from being quiet day after day. my quiet:talking ratio is probably all out of wack. i've heard my voice before.. it's LOUD and i like my everything about my voice then. i just don't hear it a lot. but yeah, i find my voice attractive (is that weird lmao). i don't want to sound conceited but yeah.
    edit: just like how seth mcfarlene (family guy show) likes his voice i like my voice also.

  33. Going through this right now combined with my trauma therapy. My therapist is very kind and after I journal or talk about a flashback she has me write a letter to myself as a child. Thank you for posting this Kati! It helps me understand more why we have been doing the work and homework she gives me.

  34. Goodness I wish there was a love instead of like button! This was another video that came at a time I needed it!!!

  35. What happens If the patient doesn't feel confident to self reparenting, and Its keeping return to the core believes about himself?

  36. Had no clue this was a thing! Thank you for sharing. I found you through Shane Dawson, and you have been such a blessing in my life!

  37. I'm a parent I feel so disattached from my kid that I try so hard to connect with them and I love my baby so much but i don't know to express it to my child.

  38. Can a spouse help with reparenting? And would it be beneficial to avoid contact with the parents that were the cause of the "damaged child"?

  39. Hi, Kati! I was wondering if you could talk about acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and how it can help with anxiety? Thank you for all your knowledge and guidance!

  40. I have a real issue with diving head first into a friendship or relationship super fast and then feeling the need to have the other persons full attention and getting emotional if I don't even though I know that's not right. What is this called? What could be causing it? How do I fix or work on it? It would be much appreciated if you could do a video on this and I hope it makes sense.

  41. Wait, is that what Iyana from Iyana: Fix My Life, does!?!! She holds them like a child sometimes to simulate how a mother soothes her kid. Its surprising! " Reparenting", eh? Interesting!

  42. I feel like repartee gong with your therapist isn’t the healthiest thing. For lack of a better way to put it, it kinda crosses a Brit dart I think you should keep between the two of you. But I do understand why they might do that.

  43. DBT would be a suitable healer for this, and DBT is really reparenting, right? That's what Linehan says in her foreward, that the DBT workbook is for gaining the tools our parents weren't able to give us. Acting out, irritation, unstable relationships are all signs of lacking DBT skills. I've watched your videos on DBT skills and DBT therapy has changed my life.

  44. This is really interesting, I have never heard of reparenting. I'll admit the therapist acting as surrogate sounds a little un-comfy and risky for me. I;m curious if that could just cause more issues with the patient feeling a bit of transferrence or attachment to their therapist. However on the whole I think reparenting is a great idea, when it comes from yourself. thanks for the video

  45. Kati….Can u do a video about how not to feel sick and nauseous when looking at the computer screen?
    I can't work more than half n hour on my laptop ! And the prob is I'm an undergrad n constantly need to use laptop to complete assignments.
    HELP ME PLEASE !!!! 😭😭😭

  46. Hey kati can you do a video on emotional detachment and desensitization. I think im going to get diagnosed with soon and i would like to know some more information on it.

  47. Thank you so much kati for this fabulous explanation and information.⚘
    As a neglected and psychologically emotionally abused survivor by my adoptive mother… this is so huge!
    I cry almost everyday seeing an area of short coming I have due to the lack of proper guidance, and I NEED to re parent myself. My mother hurt me so deep i actually still struggle to believe its ok for me to be nice to myself in my own head. My mother picked me and everyone else apart to destroy her families self confidence and belief in ourselves.
    This week, I'm going to re-parent myself with the forgiveness and compassion I cringe at myself deserving. 😘
    I send so many thanks for your work Kati Morton.

  48. I remember being in the mental hospital in May of 1995. when I was transferred to the open unit, there was animal therapy. There was this angelic white kitty cat that a patient picked up and handed over to me to play with. I was afraid the cat would hurt me, but the other patient said she would never hurt me. I was paranoid. Funny thing is, you look a bit like that patient. She had blond hair and blue eyes also. I petted the cat and she slept on my lap and I felt calm. However, there was this other patient that was not nice to that cat. He did something to her and she hissed. I asked that patient who gave me the cat on why she hissed. She looked at me and said "I don't blame her. " I think he pulled her tail when he was petting her. Anyways, animal therapy helped me a lot.

  49. i really believe in reparenting. i used to get really dependant on people. i suffered significant repeated trauma when i was younger and only recalled it all a few years ago. once it started coming to the surface with a trusted friend, who was also a counsellor, a lot of it i couldn't speak through and felt so young. but if she hadn't been able to hold me through it and reparent me to some extent, i dont think that i would have ever been able to reparent myself.

    i totally agree, however, that it is really risky and dangerous. i tried, without meaning to or being aware of it, to find a ''parent' and it was only when someone safe who was able to see me through and out the other side was it able to work. i went through many a broken relationship/friendship and a MASSIVE lot of pain before i got to the right person, so i strongly suggest you go through this in a professional relationship, NOT a friend or a well meaning individual.

  50. How can mild, long-term ED behaviors affect your health?

    I haven't been diagnosed with an ED, but for seven years I have engaged in frequent restriction, fasting, and overeating (plus periods of compulsive exercise, failed purging attempts, and chewing and spitting).
    My weight has fluctuated between 115 and 95 (5'4" F), and I have had a number of inhibiting, but temporary side effects.

    For the past eight months, I've had chronic digestive issues, and I'm wondering if those behaviors could be either the cause or contributing factors.

    Is it possible for these behaviors to do real damage even though I'm a normal weight?

    (Sorry for the tome and apologies if this isn't the best way to reach you. Thank you for your work. You are so helpful and encouraging)

  51. I couldn’t have my therapist be the caretaker. I would become way too attached and them feel abandoned again.

  52. Man sometimes I daydream and get really emotional even imagining someone caring and being really emotionally available for me without a feeling of tension or immanent anger or something…. I'd probably benefit from this kind of thing

  53. This is such a big thing! My therapist practiced this with me but didn’t call it that, she just had me work on seeing my inner child and not treating her the same way my abusers had. It is still really difficult for me, often watching my friends parent their kids is really helpful to me to see this is what I was missing here, this is how I can comfort that little child in me.

  54. what about the book Toxic Parents by Dr. Susan Forward, do forgiveness really work /heal ? or what about T.A (Transactional Analyse. )?

  55. Can u talk about how to communicate ur needs to the therapist. I'm a very introverted person and find it really hard to talk about my problems and express my emotions to my therapist. Sometimes I would just go blank, and wouldn't know what to say, though I have so many problems. Please help Kati.

  56. You can do this just with your imagination, imagine the parent helping/comforting you, or just acting remotely normal, as you see on a tv show of “normal” parents. I believe this is why watching tv is so soothing, we can get lost in our imagination of a “better” life, but living it out by being that compassionate person you wished you had in your life is also extremely helpful and uplifting.

  57. although i get it on a rational level, I hate nothing more than hearing "you have to give it to yourself" blablabla. you can't parent yourself, that is just not what was supposed to happen and you are not and never will be your own mother/father. there is NOTHING positive about doing it yourself. it is a profoundly sad thing. don't act like it isn't, like it's not some kind of meager consolation-prize-y action you have to take, because it's too late for you to ever receive actual loving care by a parent. i'm sorry, but shit like this makes my inner child run rampant, ready to tear everything down. most cbt approaches have this effect unfortunately.

  58. Wow, moving a lot, disconnected parents, bullying at school… are you talking about me? I will definitely need to do this "reparenting" thing

  59. Aren't there ethical issues with a therapist re-parenting their patients? Having that much dependence on your therapist could cause problems in the future

  60. I’d be interested to know how reparenting might interact with disassociative traits and if it can be potentially harmful in conjunction.

  61. Love this video! It is actually such a cool way to help when feeling overwhelmed! I am really going to try and reparent myself by imagining my inner child is another person!!! Thanks so much Kati xx

  62. I have found that parenting my own children is helping me parent my inner child as well. I'm just barely scratching the surface through talk therapy and EMDR but being in this dual role of mother and daughter has brought up a lot of triggers that had been carefully tucked away for a long time.

  63. I just found a book last night that talks about these child modes, and omg it was so good that instead of reading the online library book, I had to buy it. My therapist has uncovered some serious childhood issues, things I didn't even realize were wrong, so I'm soaking up all the info I can get on the subject!

  64. That was some great information thank you so much! I just heard about reparenting and had no idea what it was about. I can make a better informed decision!😊👍

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