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Fantasy Cake

Pluralistic Methods and Tasks to Negotiate Control away from the Tough Inner Critic

Creative Therapies

It may be appropriate for a client to use creative therapies to take away some of the Inner Critic’s power.  It may be appropriate for some clients to do this in a playful way.  For example, depicting the Inner Critic as a Disney character. I think of “the Queen of Hearts” who reacts completely over the top when someone makes a minor misdemeanour.   Hansen (2021) references “Jar Jar Binks” from Star Wars, trying to get it right but messing it up.  We must ensure we know our client well and have the appropriate relationship to use such humour in this way, but it can be powerful in promoting the client’s psychological reflexivity and problem-solving abilities.  Hansen (2021; NICABM IC video 11; 01:22) describes a whole cast of Inner Critic characters, e.g. “the Shamer, the Pusher, the one who thinks the client deserves to suffer”.  Pluralistic Counsellors will meet the client where they are, to identify their own individual Inner Critic characters, as well as their cast of self-compassionate inner nurturers.  It can be transformative for clients should they wish to do this creatively.  They can draw what the Inner Critic looks like.  

Journalling/ Writing

Kate Williams recommends communicating with the Inner Critic through journalling. Using your non-dominant hand to reply as the Inner Critic, she posits that you can contact the Inner Critic as the subconscious Superego (Freud 1910) and that using your non-dominant hand can give a direct voice to the Inner Critic, allowing it to express itself but also communicate through the "Ego" state, bringing compassion, common humanity and realistic expectation.  Williams (March 2022) notes that it can be insightful to ask the Inner Critic how old it is, or how old it thinks the client is. It can very rich data as to what is going on in the client's psyche.  Writing and journalling techniques also engage the prefrontal cortex, the relational, problem-solving, noticing part of the brain.  When this is engaged, we are less likely to be overtaken by ruminating that can lead to a tough inner critic causing great upset.  Mindfulness practices work in the same way, engaging the prefrontal cortex.

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