In this video I lead my client through the Ideal Parent Figure Exercise and you can follow along and experience the exercise for yourself.

Read further as we explore the Ideal Parent Figure Protocol (IPFP), a profound tool in the realm of emotional healing. Similar to how the body employs the freeze response or dissociation to protect itself in overwhelming situations, IPFP offers a way to safely confront and reshape traumatic childhood experiences. This technique involves guided imagery to create an idealized parent figure, aiding in the development of feelings of security and emotional regulation.

   IPFP allows individuals to reimagine their early parental relationships, offering a path to emotional healing and stability. By envisioning a nurturing and responsive parental figure, one can foster a sense of security and self-worth that may have been lacking.

IPFP is particularly beneficial for those who have endured challenging early life experiences, helping them to cultivate healthier emotional responses and self-esteem. This protocol, involving the visualization of different scenarios with ideal parent figures, taps into our innate capacity for imagination and healing.

Research suggests that this method can be a powerful tool for enhancing emotional regulation and fostering a stronger sense of personal security. It’s a journey of reimagining one’s upbringing in a more supportive and nurturing environment.

Exploring the Ideal Parent Figure Protocol

The Ideal Parent Figure (IPF) method, integral to Daniel Brown’s Three Pillars model, is designed for remedying adult attachment disturbances. I gained insights into this method through Daniel Brown’s trainings and his book on adult attachment. It employs therapist-patient co-created imagery, reflecting the five secure attachment qualities, to foster relational healing and earn adult secure attachment. Here is an interview on the podcast “Therapist Uncensored” where Dan Brown discusses his work and the development of the exercise. Below is a 30 minute excerpt of that interview.


The Five Qualities of Secure Attachment in IPF

Secure attachment, crucial for a child’s development, depends on five conditions in the caregiver-child relationship. These conditions, when replicated in our relationships, promote healing and growth. They include:

  • Safety and Protection
  • Attunement (being fully seen and known)
  • Reassurance & Soothing
  • Expressions of Delight
  • Unconditional Support & Encouragement

Each plays a vital role in nurturing a child’s emotional and psychological health.

The Functioning of the Ideal Parent Figure Protocol

The IPF Protocol leverages the unconscious mind’s inability to differentiate between real and imagined images. Patients imagine themselves as children with ideal parents, creating nurturing scenarios. This practice helps reverse the impact of a difficult childhood, aiding in self-compassion and emotional healing. The imagery, originating from the patient’s imagination, establishes a support system stronger than any real parent or therapist can offer.

Though challenging initially, with therapist support, patients can harness their inner wisdom to forge a comforting relationship with their ideal parent figures, leading to enhanced mood and self-compassion. While working with a trained therapist is recommended, resources like Dan Brown’s YouTube video or the 24 minute recording here is a good place to start. You can also visit Cedric Reeves’ meditation library which hosts a wealth of attachment repair guided meditations.

Attachment-focused EMDR and the IPF

In her book “Attachment-focused EMDR“, therapist Laura Parnell discusses a similar approach to the IPF, focusing on envisioning an ideal mother or father figure. This technique assists clients in managing difficult memories and improving their attachment patterns. Parnell’s strategy, involving the creation of a new, loving parental figure, aims to rewire the brain, offering a sense of being cared for and supported.

Combining bilateral simulation, whether tapping or eye movements, with the traditional Dan Brown approach can be effective, as demonstrated in this video on EMDR integration.

Evidence Supporting the Ideal Parent Figure Protocol

While relatively new, the Ideal Parent Figure Protocol has shown promising results in improving life quality for those affected by childhood trauma and CPTSD. A study led by Federico Parra found significant improvements in psychological symptoms and quality of life after a brief treatment program using IPF. This method changes representational models by visualizing ideal caregiving relationships, leading to better emotional regulation and reduced symptoms.

Home practice of recorded visualizations was key in these improvements, offering daily positive caregiving experiences and aiding in distress regulation. The study suggests IPF’s potential as an effective treatment for CPTSD related to childhood trauma, especially during the stabilization phase focused on emotional regulation and symptom reduction.

Overall, the Ideal Parent Figure Protocol emerges as a promising approach for treating childhood trauma-induced CPTSD, enhancing life quality and alleviating psychological distress.

Contact for Professional Guidance

If you’re looking to integrate IPFP into your therapeutic journey, consider reaching out to a trauma-focused therapist. For those interested in this work over telehealth, I offer specialized therapy in this field. Feel free to contact me for more information.