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  1. Charmaine Wright, Other, NL says

    Thank-you so very much, the infographic helps to identify in myself my adaptive child coping habits that holds me back in my adult life, It helps me in my inquiry of my fear that gets locked up in my body that keeps me small, afraid and dysfunctional in communication or expressing my true self. The wounded child trauma of being beaten up, the adaptive child I had to pretend I have no pain, it was the only way out for me as child To Pretend so that the care giver would stop beating me with a belt and punishing me for being stupid in the moment. Thank-You so very much I can now focus on healing my Adaptive Child, I have been giving love to my inner child journey healing and through this infographic I am now made aware of the adaptive child. Thank-you so very much it brings me forward on my path of healing childhood trauma/adult trauma. Many deep bows of gratitude for your psychology postings on healing. Palms Together. God Bless You All.

  2. E W, Counseling, USA says

    You should really credit Dick Schwartz for his work

  3. Dd Drysdale, Counseling, AU says

    My email address has not been accepted to access the free program on trauma
    Can you please advise of how to access this

  4. Nev Dewhirst, Teacher, Lancaster, PA, USA says

    My father has never talked about his childhood except in very vague terms. He was an only child and I gather that he was often ignored by his parents who adored each other and ran a business together. He seems to fit in the adaptive child category. He was never physically abusive to us, but he was emotionally abusive to all of us. The child who was treated the worst was my younger brother who my dad treated as the scapegoat. I never remember my dad praising or encouraging my brother, but he certain managed to point out my brother’s flaws. Dad treated my younger brother as the family scapegoat, and still does. Interestingly, my brother fits in the wounded child category, and I do as well, but much less. I suppose I was the Golden Child, though I did fear his disapproval, his silences, and his rages. It makes me sad to learn at 60 that had my dad been able to address his inner child and find a way to heal, he might not have caused us such anxiety and low self-esteem. I understand now and have worked to develop adult functioning skills, but I must work on it every day.

  5. Carol Kilp, Other, CA says

    Such good information and extremely helpful for learning about the way people react in such different situations and don’t realize how it travels with them throughout life! Even older clients seeking help find themselves learning much better coping skills! Thanks for all the excellent work you are doing 🌎 worldwide!

  6. Michael Graham, Coach, DE says

    Yip, that’s a nice presentation of the 3 stages. Acknowledge & heal the adaptive child in the adult present, and accompany him/her while they develop into the functional adult 😀👍😀

  7. Velva Heraty, Psychotherapy, St. Petersburg, FL, USA says

    Key Takeaway. Appreciate the visuals. In my practice, it’s the wounded child that lives within the adaptive child so engaging and healing the wounded child comes first. Only then will the functional adult be realized. Paying close attention to the dreams of the wounded child informs the healer when the time has come to move forward and through the adaptive child’s resistance. Finally, pay attention to when a client tests you during the process. This is long-term strategic therapy.

  8. Sarah Tepper, Stress Management, GB says

    Incredible content as always. NICABM is the best resource I’ve ever come across for learning about trauma and childhood experience.

  9. Margaret Goillon, Psychotherapy, GB says

    So clear and helpful for my clients.

  10. Nidhi Rice, Another Field, USA says

    Thank you SO much for this series…I have found it incredibly rich and helpful…
    Main “take-aways”
    “You dont have to trust….you have earned your distrust….it’s fine with me …you dont know me….I have to earn your trust…I can still work with you…As long as you can you work with me….

    Peter Levine…his exercises for self soothing

    Section on Abandonment

    The faces and the energy of the various practitioners are staying with me ….so much was shared without words ….

    And…ultimately that love is what heals….

  11. Pamela Lester, Teacher, CA says

    As a very wounded child from pre-birth, and an adaptive child with perfectionistic tendencies, one of the most critical messages I received in therapy is that to be human means we make mistakes. That broke my paradigm that mistakes only occur when we don’t work hard enough to examine all angles of a situation, project etc. to ensure it is flawless.

    That statement was like a dash of cold water waking me up to realize that I can’t change the fact that I am a human with flaws.

  12. Nando Raynolds, Counseling, Talent, OR, USA says

    Many people experience the “adaptive child” as their “Inner Critic”. The perfectionism and blaming/shaming style is an immature effort to control and stay safe. Recognizing the positive intention of this part and offering compassionate education and coaching on managing self and influencing others in a more sophisticated manner is essential.
    Nando Raynolds, MA LPC

  13. Clare, NZ says

    Great overview- thanks! I also agree that positive adaptive attributes could also b mentioned- or do you believe the positives only come from the adult?

  14. Adrianna Benson, Other, Waterbury Center, VT, USA says

    This is one of the best presentation of trauma and how it manifests in adulthood that I have ever seen. I have lived trauma and worked with trauma and Terry has been able to capture in one graphic all the emotions and tangible ways in which it rears it’s head and plays out in real time. Thank you for providing such a wonderful image to both refer to and share with others in conversation at work and at home. In gratitude….

  15. Robb Ball, Nursing, USA says

    The adaptive child as the target rings sooo true! The graphic is very helpful in laying out the motivations and purpose of her responses. AND understanding the reasons why these responses do significantly impact relationships here and now.

    The dissonance created when she comes out is so challenging when she isn’t honoured and repurposed.

    Great teaching aid and insight developer.

  16. Frances Jansen, Coach, CA says

    I found the functional adult had the most impact.

  17. Joyce Zaagman, Counseling, Ada, MI, USA says

    Wow. So very grateful for your work! As a new counselor this is so helpful. As a mom of a traumatized child, I feel like this is guidance we can use. Thank you!

  18. Katarina Maxted, Medicine, GB says

    I like the analogy of the adaptive child, however it does not come across as lovable. Its defences are described as self-centred and aggressive. Would one want to identify with an adaptive child and be compassionate with it? Even the therapist may be challenged and I can see the gap widening, the one which allows empathetic responses and acceptance of the client belonging into the same ‘ingroup’. By picking up primarily on negative attributes it may promote to widen the gap between us, the therapists and the them as ‘imperfect’ clients. I wonder whether the wording could thus be improved or some positive attributes in its description added?

    • Rose Fisher, Psychotherapy, GB says

      I really appreciate the point you are making. Thank you.

    • Allison Marie, Counseling, Jax, FL, USA says

      It’s interesting you point this out bc I had the opposite thought. I always frame all those “negatives” as positives through the perspective of trauma/abuse. Then I contrast that with what kind of skills would work better for the client now that they aren’t the child and don’t have to be aggressive to protect themselves. All my clients when I frame it like this all seem to immediately soften and find self compassion bc they realize they aren’t angry as a personality trait but a learned behavior. It’s very relieving when someone learns they can unlearn what they don’t like. I appreciate your perspective bc I will be aware that if I share this without context it could be very off putting to some.

      • Katarina Maxted, Medicine, GB says

        Thanks for your replies. I am sure that the fawn, please/appease and freeze type will accept your explanations; the flight type will have already run away. The one who adapted to the fighting response with narcissistic traits will also unlikely to be found in therapy.
        In essence the adaptive child one will most likely find in therapy is being told about its defects like once its parents did, reaffirming original believes and shaming. Feeling anger, I keep reading in Peter Levine books and hearing from other presenters, is the next stage of recovery from the freeze response when completing the trauma response cycle. Anger should not be dismissed as negative but seen as healthy defence. The individual adapting to fawn and freeze more likely need to relearn their boundaries and befriend anger rather than being told that they are aggressive, this contrary to what this infographic implies. And they are also being told to be harsh and self-centred. Sounds like more ‘food’ for the shy inner critic. I don’t think that I would like to show it to a trauma/CPTSD victim in its present format without ‘softening’ and rephrasing.

    • Andy Mitchum, Psychology, Greensboro, NC, USA says

      Good point about being alert to unintentional shaming, but hopefully most therapists know how to present an idea without making it pejorative, and they’ll be alert to how a client/patient is taking a piece of education. For this, I’m reminded how my best teachers back in behavioral training reminded us that the behaviors that bring us into therapy are all things that used to “work”; the only actual problem is that they don’t work so well now. If we apply the same perspective to the “adapted child”, we can affirm that what she/he learned to do did actually work up to a point, realistically acknowledge that partial solutions created new problems over time but they are problems to *have* rather than problems to *be*, and we’re not going to blame things that seemed for all the world like help at first for not “knowing” they would get out of balance later.

  19. Anonymous says

    I love the image of the adaptive child who literally can’t fill the shoes of the adult (and is swimming in the oversized adult clothes)!
    I recognize my late friend in the description of the adaptive child. I never understood how she could perpetuate the harsh treatment that she had been so hurt by. (I took the opposite approach and refused to be anything like my abusive and neglectful parents). I wish I had known all this great information from this course a decade ago, because maybe I could have helped her. (She committed suicide). I also recognized her in last session’s talk on shame. She was so unforgivingly self-critical.

  20. K Mielke, Health Education, Lexington, MI, USA says

    Thank you for the info Graphics!
    I appreciate viewing various materials in addition to the podcasts.

    This gives a bird’s eye view of the differing maturity levels that we may relate to in response and or behavior patterns to trauma.

    I found it interesting to recognize my own behaviors that have either become functional, that were not in the past. And/or, to recognize those that still show opportunity for healthy growth.
    Thank you for offering this program and supplementals.

  21. Simon David Eden, Student, GB says

    Having read through the other responses, for me it seems clear that it’s not actually possible to capture the vast array of possible outcomes for the wounded child in an infographic. I’m now 63. Though I identify with the ‘wounded child’, I don’t recognize the ‘adaptive child’ as described at all. I’m neither a perfectionist, harsh nor unforgiving. I see the world as mostly grey (in a good way!) rather than black and white. I was a middle child. The skills I’ve acquired over the course of a successful thirty year career have led me – as an advocate of life long learning – to begin a creative practice-based PhD this year. I care deeply about social responsibility and put others needs before my own. I view intimacy and tenderness as a life blood, and I’ve been happily married to a highly intelligent, wonderful woman for over three decades. I’m also a proud father and have a very close bond with my beautiful, kind-hearted, whip smart, independent daughter. Definitely do not identify with my aggressor. None of which is to say I haven’t had a terrible battle throughout my life in trying to deal with the extreme physical and emotional trauma I experienced in childhood (in fact my research PhD is about that ongoing struggle) it’s just that it didn’t manifest for me at all in the manner Terry Real has outlined. The key takeaway for me therefore, is that alas, though it would be far easier to get to the root of these issues if there were a template, in reality, in my opinion, there is no one size fits all. Every individual responds differently. Thought provoking though, so many thanks for sharing.

    • Julua says

      I think the adaptive self would be the most difficult to self recognize 🗝

    • Julia says

      I think the adaptive self would be the most difficult to self recognize 🗝

  22. Casey Scott-Campbell, Psychology, NZ says

    Also, what is the mechanism re being unable to learn new skills as an adaptive child?

  23. Casey Scott-Campbell, Psychology, NZ says

    Why does the adaptive child identify with the aggressor? (as opposed to reacting only)

    • Antonia Monson, Other, GB says

      My guess is it would be the only way the child knows to keep safe : imitate \ adapt to the persecutor. The child may have no alternative role model or refuge from abuse. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

  24. Gillian Vriend, Counseling, TH says

    Thank you so much for this….so clear and helpful

  25. Ry Y, Other, San francisco, CA, USA says

    That’s a confusing infographic

  26. Dana Gordon, Another Field, USA says

    I am the adaptive survivor child at 68
    I am alone
    I cant trust myself to pick good people
    I hide
    I am so lonily
    I am protected
    Is it worth it
    I dont know

    • Robb Ball, Nursing, USA says

      Dana ~ I hear and see you. I am only now learning why being that adaptive child comes to be. I see my self in this graphic particularly in how the adaptive child is bot the best one to for an adult to model after.

      I see the integration of the adaptive child into the surviving and successful adult as a critical transition to make healthy and satisfying, safe relationships.

  27. Kylie Jay, Counseling, AU says

    I find your info graphics so helpful, easy to understand for clients due to the brief yet ‘spot on’ descriptions and the pictures for those that learn visually. Thank you for making these accessible to everyone.

  28. Linda C, Teacher, CA says

    I’m grateful to view the info graphic and will strive to learn more about the adaptive child.

  29. Cassandra Trower, Counseling, GB says

    This is really helpful and easy to understand, makes such sense and will really help my clients to understand.

  30. Melanie Phelps, Psychotherapy, GB says

    I would have loved to have joined the gold programme as I work with trauma in the UK and benefitted from one of the webcasts tgat I was able to access. Unfortunately, being semi retired due to a health condition, the costs of the gokd package are prohibitive. Would be great if you could offer a concessionary rate?

  31. connie childs, Other, New York, NY, USA says

    this is wonderful! one of the best nutshells I have ever seen.

  32. Jane Gabites, Psychology, NZ says

    Thank you so much. Your infographics are always so helpful for my clients.

  33. Marcia Polese, Another Field, USA says

    Thank you for this graphic. Terry Real is a fabulous teacher, and his work with couples is amazing. People may also find the work of Thomas Huebl interesting, as his focus on collective trauma demonstrates how the lack of integration in ourselves/patients is reflected in major issues we face as society. Individual trauma work is the way to begin the healing for us all. Thank you for this series. I am a survivor of early childhood sexual abuse, and — despite a successful career — have had seriously negative personal outcomes from poor therapy. This series has been enormously helpful to me.

  34. Rose-Marie Couturier, Other, CA says

    I’m not a therapist. I choose to make a therapy with a psychologist specify with trauma. Some flash back, nervous behaviour for a long time, some crises that put a shock in my neck. To much suffer when it’s not the time.
    I decided to ask help but with someone that can help with trauma even it is not just some part. The response is not all over trauma. I notice that also when the psychologist give me the analysis of the test.
    She decided with me that i can be guide by her. I will have to write on everything that pass and is sad or suffer.
    9 months after, I know more how to manage when there is sadness or suffer or I feel reject in my life.

    I have tools.
    I decided to buy the notebook
    The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook
    by Kristen Neff and Christopher Germer.
    A good tool to continue that work on me.

    I also decided to meditate with the teaching of Tara Brach. I use also the teaching of Nicole Bordeleau a french one from Québec.
    Thank you for the chart which is very clear is concrete. I print it.
    Thank you
    Rose-Marie Couturier

    • Claire Cyr, Another Field, CA says

      Je suis dans la même situation que vous. Mon thérapeute est Jean-Pierre Marceau sur le Boul St. Joseph à Montréal

    • Toinette Keeling, Teacher, AU says

      Rose Marie Couturier
      I am in Australia, and also really like listening to Tara Brach and decided to resume listening. I have just bought a short program from NICABM on shame, and am finding it very helpful. I would love to heal the relationships with my two brothers, each married with adult children some of whom also have children. This has not been easy, as our family was programmed to blame me. And I accepted from a position of please and appease and collapse and submit.
      It seems clear to me that to accept all the inner parts (Internal Family Systems Stephen Porges) and remain in the Self will be a key step.
      Je vous souhaite la bonne chance.

  35. Susan Rochow, Psychology, CA says

    This is brilliant!!! I have found that one of my biggest tasks is to teach clients the dark side of resiliency. This is a difficult task, especially in a world that teaches people to “suck it up,” “get over it,” “pull up your bootstraps,” etc. I have referred to this as the Resilient Part, and it often blocks the work we do in therapy because it minimizes the wounds. This resource will help me to explain this concept. Thank you so much!

  36. Breanna Mochida, Another Field, Portland, ME, USA says

    Not a therapist – 25 year old (f) looking for resources to try and self heal from childhood trauma. I won’t be able to afford the therapy I need, so I’ve really appreciated this series.

    Despite being an otherwise successful and independent woman, my relationships, especially friendships and my romantic relationship with my long term partner, are strained because of my insecurity and tendency to view things negatively. I often feel that I’m perceiving a different world than what is happening in reality – a much more negative and harmful world. It’s as if I’m trying to predict people’s bad intentions ahead of time to protect myself. To be able to tell myself “I knew it all along, they were trying to do me wrong”, when they were being perfectly reasonable.

    I identify with the adaptive child because they see things as black or white, good or bad. I feel vulnerable when I am close to someone, so making friends can is stressful. I also think that I am dependent on conflict, and even though my aggressor is not longer in my life, it’s as if I am looking at my partner as my new aggressor, despite him being a good person.

    I can’t wait to learn about how to treat the adaptive child.

    • Lynn, Psychotherapy, GB says

      I respect your resilience! However, I urge you to ask around. Many therapists will work for a reduced fee for people unable to afford their standard fees.

      I wish you well in your search for health.

  37. Ef, Marriage/Family Therapy, ID says

    Great infograph. The course has really opened new perspectives for me on various freeze responses.
    I am really looking forward to the last session to learn how to process a clients shame for their freeze response during childhood sexual abuse and the shame which their adaptive child has caused, in their adult relationships, having “please and appease” (promiscuous) affairs with aggressor type (narcistic) partner(s).

    • H S, Another Field, Denver, CO, USA says

      Thank you for your input. I have come back to your comment several times because it has helped me to understand some of my maladaptive behavior a little bit better, while removing some of the self-blame and shame I’ve always attached to it. It feels like a logical explanation, and while I have learned to embrace the parts of me I hated, I still struggle with believing that I am not entirely to blame for my unhealthy behavior. I have stopped dating because of the fact that I am drawn to destructive types. Until I can trust myself, I will stay single.

  38. hannah sherebrin, Psychotherapy, CA says

    The use of rain in the infographic is very clever, since rain is associated with tears and the need for protection, but also is needed for growth and developement. As long as we have the right protection, the ambrela, we can “sing in the rain” and even have someone walk with us under the ambrella.
    I was also reminded of self care model of RAIN by Tara Brach which is all about self compassion.
    So let it rain…

    • Linda s, Coach, Santa Cruz, CA, USA says

      I so appreciate your reference to rain being needed for growth and development…actually your entire analogy. Thank you! That really did it for me.

  39. Mary Goss, Marriage/Family Therapy, GB says

    The distinction between the wounded child and the adaptive child is very helpful. The need to protect the wounded child is obvious – but the development of the adaptive child to fill this role has been overlooked for so long. The little graphics and associated bullet points are very effective.
    Thank you all for this exceptional learning package.

  40. Grear Stronghold, Another Field, NL says

    After watching your sessions, the parts language used here implies to me that this info graphic applies to clients with Dissociative Identity Disorder and Other Specified Dissociative Disorder. Is this assumption correct or does every traumatized person have these parts? If so, what is the difference between these parts and the parts in DID/OSDD, besides having less integrated ability and capacity? How does one differentiate in case the parts language used here is not about DID/OSDD?

    • Kristen Trottier, Psychotherapy, USA says

      Thank you for posting your comments. I had similar thoughts and questions. I’m not well versed in Internal Family Systems but I do know that as a treatment for trauma, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and SUD that IFS views “psychic multiplicity as the norm” and that “we all have parts”, (Anderson, Sweezy, and Schwartz, 2017). I’m hoping the answers to your questions are provided in the broadcast. I need clarification too.

  41. Ness McLachlan, Other, GB says

    So insightful and clear … I wonder how subsequent trauma reinforces the adaptive child’s defence mechanisms. Again, it all hinges on acknowledgment – counselling after traumatic events for children esp would be so beneficial… thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  42. Jenny Appleton, Medicine, AU says

    This is such a clear way to show and explain the way the trauma impacts on the life of the adult – thank you. Enormous gratitude to Ruth and all her excellent therapists (and all the technical people) for offering these teachings to us all throughout the world. Following the positive change beginning for you in the US, hopefully a more caring and empathic attitude will start to permeate through all of our countries. I know there is a very, very long and difficult path for this. Warm wishes from Sydney, Australia

  43. Arva S, Counseling, IN says

    Thank you so much for this info graphic. It’s pretty clear where to begin and how to move forward in therapy.

  44. Magdalena Nowak-Strelnikov, Psychotherapy, PL says

    Hallo, thank you, I’m very grateful for your message and the materials. I do work with adaptive child with my clients and I find it very helpful to show them how this part affects their current life and relationships. I’m looking forward to watch tomorrow’s lectures so to learn more techniques how to engage the functional adult. I’m very happy to have your course and I’m grateful for your work. Best regards to all psychotherapist taking part in this program. Greetings from Poland, Warsaw, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology.