Seeking Free Child change

As soon as one is told to do something that makes it harder for them to decide if they want to. As soon as one told to do something their Adapted Child ego state is being stimulated. Pressure is put on the person to go into that ego state which makes it harder for them to respond from the Free Child ego state or the Adult ego state.

Pressure is put on the person to respond from CC or RC (which are both subsets of the Adapted Child ego state). In either instance they are not responding from a decision of what they want. That comes from an understanding of the FC need, then an Adult decision on that FC need.

Parental directive Jpeg

This diagram shows how a Parent ego state directive moves the FC away and stimulates the AC (RC or CC) in the personality. That directive can come from some one external or come from one’s own internal Parent

The FC does not reject the the parental directive it simply does not listen to it. It is hard to respond from FC if someone else is repeatedly telling you what to do. Each time a Parent transaction is perceived the AC is more alert and more likely to respond.

This is why the “telling” type of therapies can have trouble. The therapist that tells the client what to do negates the client being aware of their own Free Child need. Successful psychotherapy usually involves the individual experiencing what they want (FC) and then devising a successful plan to get that.

For example the therapist who says to the client; “Stop smoking marijuana”. The client is put into a position where it is harder for him to know if his FC wants to stop smoking. Then the Adult can not work with the FC to get what it wants. The therapist is pressuring him to respond from either CC or RC.


Long term behavioural change will happen when there is a FC want that gets met. The client may have even wanted to start giving up marijuana but if they are told to do so then they will begin to loose sight of that.

This applies to all the most common Parent ego state contracts – loosing weight, stoping smoking, exercising more, giving up drinking, studying and doing work and so forth. Procrastination often involves these types of dynamics as well.  In such circumstances therapists need to avoid falling into the trap of giving parental directives. Most people eventually will find out what is best for them if given the space and time to do so. The goal of therapy is to assist the person to discover what their FC want is and then execute a plan of how to achieve that. This is how one gets long term change. Parental directives can result in short term change but the person will usually always eventually return to the RC  behaviour.

The problem is that it seems obvious in order to help someone to give up is to tell them to. Also in society there are lots of people and organisations and indeed the law which tells people to give up usually from a parental directive position. This includes the use of threats which the law is. If you get caught smoking marijuana you will be fined the law tells us. This either encourages the CC to be frightened into stopping or the RC into trying to “beat the system” and avoid getting caught. Either way the person is then further from their FC want and is becoming more locked into an AC (CC or RC) response. If it is the CC that stops using then there is always a very real danger of relapse at some point. If stopping is mainly an FC decision then relapse is far less likely at some later point. And if it does happen then it will be short lived before they give up again.

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