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The Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy (DNMS)


Unwanted behaviors, beliefs, and emotions can originate with unresolved emotional wounds from the past – especially from childhood. Repeated experiences of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse can lead to complex trauma wounds, and chronic neglect, rejection, enmeshment, or misattunement can lead to attachment wounds. Deep wounds like this can be challenging to treat.

The DNMS is a gentle, multidimensional, comprehensive, strengths-based, client-centered, ego-state therapy developed by Shirley Jean Schmidt, MA, LPC to treat both trauma and attachment wounds. It gives equal importance to repairing wounds inflicted because of bad things that happened (e.g. abuse) and good things that did not happen (e.g. loving attunement, nurturing, validation, encouragement, etc.).

It’s based on the assumption that a child who repeatedly hears devaluing messages (like, “You’re worthless” or “You’re irrelevant”) from unkind people, will grow up with parts of self that are stuck in the past. In adulthood, those reactive parts can feel small and powerless – easily overwhelmed by stressful events. In addition, another type of wounded part can get stuck in the past – a maladaptive introject. Introjects hold recordings of others’ devaluing messages, and when triggered, play back those old messages to reactive parts. This evokes all the same painful emotions in adulthood that were experienced in the past. This constant internal re-wounding of reactive parts creates the illusion that the old wounding experiences are still happening and relevant right now.

The DNMS starts by guiding clients to mobilize three internal Resources: a Nurturing Adult Self, a Protective Adult Self, and a Spiritual Core Self. Together, these Resources help reactive parts and introjects get unstuck from the past by meeting their unmet developmental needs, helping them process through painful emotions, and establishing an emotional bond. Alternating bilateral stimulation (made popular by EMDR therapy) is applied at key points in the process to enhance the healing process.

The DNMS focuses special attention on healing the maladaptive introjects. Since they can generate a lot of internal stress and conflict, their healing results in a significant benefit. As introjects heal, clients report unwanted behaviors, beliefs, and emotions diminish. They feel greater self-esteem, fewer internal conflicts, and are better able to handle the stresses of life with adult skills and strengths.

Click here for a more detailed description of the DNMS