JUNE 24 - 26, 2021 / WORLDWIDE
The ‘Vitamin’ Metaphor for Unmet Core Emotional Needs
In order to explain core emotional needs and make them more accessible to ourselves and others, I propose the use of a medical metaphor.
“A vitamin is an organic compound that is essential for the normal growth and metabolic processes of a human being. If a vitamin is missing over longer periods of time, a deficiency will ensue. Vitamin deficiencies in childhood can have devastating lifelong consequences. Ricketts for example can lead a severe deformation of bones in a child, and Ricketts develops as a deficiency of Vitamin D during childhood.”
Similar consequences happen to a child that does not get emotional needs met: The sequelae can be life-long, going into adulthood. ‘Needs’ are more than ‘wishes’: Like with Vitamins for our physical well-being, we cannot do without them in the longer run. Emotional Vitamins are essential for our long-term psychological well-being”.
It can be difficult for both patient and therapist to remember what needs there are.
As a mnemonic, and as a practical tool to ‘feed’ oneself more systematically, I have grouped ‘vitamins’ into the five ‘Youngian’ groups with easy-to-remember names:
“Vitamin@” (“at”) Attachment, Attunement, Attention, safety, care et al.
“Vitamin S” - Skill-building & Sense of Identity, Self & Autonomy
“Vitamin X” – Expressing Valid Needs, Preferences, Emotions
“Vitamin P” - Play and Spontaneity
“Vitamin L” – Kind Setting of Limits to Self and Others
This metaphor serves as a way to explain more pragmatically a) what needs are b) how important the meeting of emotional need is at all times is c) that unmet needs lead to long-term damage when happening during childhood (and adulthood) d) that needs can be grouped and labelled in a way that they can be understood and remembered more easily e) that that labelling can help meet adult needs more systematically in therapy and in their daily life.
The talk will outline how this metaphor can be communicated in a playful way. The meeting of core emotional needs while being isolated during lockdown can be achieved with the help of ‘vitamin’ charts and creative thinking about how to get your daily ‘vitamin’ dose met.
About the Presenter
Florian is a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital in London. He is also a trainer and supervisor in CBT.
Florian has been co-leading the Maudsley Schema Therapy Service (with Dr L Gordon) since 2014. He has been a Principal Investigator for the International Multicentre Randomised Controlled Trial of Group Schema Therapy for EUPD (CI: A Arntz, Amsterdam) for the UK sites.
Florian has an interest in investigating the impact of cluster B personality traits on child-parent relationships and has developed a schema-based model of attachment suppression. As Lead for the Maudsley Mindfulness Service, Florian has been delivering Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Groups (MBCT) for patients with chronic depression and anxiety problems, and seeing the overlaps between schema and mindfulness approaches. Florian teaches Cognitive Behavioural Therapy & MBCT on two MSc Courses in London and Kent. He has published in the areas of MBCT, anxiety and depression.
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