An Introduction to Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy (DNMS)

Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy (DNMS) is a form of therapy that addresses emotional wounds that occurred during childhood. While childhood wounds are the main focus, it can also address wounds that have been experienced throughout the person’s life.

These wounds affect how a person engages in their relationships and often triggers undesired responses that could harm the person, their loved ones, and their relationships.

What is DNMS

Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy is used to treat trauma and attachment-related issues. It is based on the theory that people who have received messages that wound or devalue them in some way, then  develop a wounded part that they carry subsciously throughout their lives. .

DNMS holds that the hurt occurs from unmet needs and inconsistent attachment patterns instead of from a specific traumatic incident. Attachment wounding could arise if a person does not receive enough nurturing, encouragement, reassurance, and validation. It could also develop if a child does not have anyone in their life to whom they can securely attach. Wounding could also happen through relational trauma that includes verbal, physical, or sexual abuse.

DNMS aims at working on healing and changing undesirable beliefs, behaviors, emotions, and urges that stem from these wounding experiences where the person’s emotional needs were not met.

These unmet needs and the wounding they created replays over and over in the person’s life and comes up each time that they are triggered. At this point, they would revert to the wounded part and react from that space. Essentially, if a child gets hurt, whether it is emotionally or physically, and does not receive the comfort and support that they need, they could get stuck in that painful moment. This moment and the frame of mind that the child is in can then get triggered in adulthood.

A person can get stuck in these painful moments, even if they do not have neglectful or abusive parents. Parents who mean well could be unable to meet the child’s needs for several reasons. It could be because they do not know how or are misattuned to meeting the child’s needs. The parents could also be struggling with their own unhealed wounds or be under extreme stress or situational hardships.

DNMS recognizes different Wounded Parts of a person. The Wounded Parts develop as a reaction to situations where the child’s needs have not been met. Raw emotions like terror, anger, sadness, grief, despair, shame, hopelessness, and anxiety all sit in the Powerless reactive parts. These parts hold on to painful experiences and memories and often engage in coping behaviors that could include over-eating or starving, withdrawing, overachieving, and drinking or using substances.

Controlling reactive parts tend to be aggressive and distrusting. These parts often sabotage attempts of healing.

Mimicking reactive parts mimic behavior that they experienced from the person(s) who wounded them. This mimicking part is also known as a maladaptive introject.

How does DNMS work

DNMS allows the client to take control of their healing by connecting with their inner resources.

The healthy parts of the self can grow through supportive and healthy relationships. DNMS harnesses these healthy parts of a person and uses them to become the loving caregivers that the person needs. Healthy parts of the self can meet the person’s unmet needs and heal the wounded parts.

Three healthy parts also referred to as Resources, are identified and connected with. The Nurturing and Protective Adult Selves hold skills that a person needs to be a good caregiver. These parts come out when a person takes care of someone else, a child, a pet, or even a plant. DNMS holds that if a person has ever engaged in nurturing skills and actions in the past, they can do it again. In DNMS, these skills are encouraged through two guided meditations. Each guided meditation focuses on a specific Resource. One meditation develops the Nurturing Adult Self, the part of an individual that can nurture a loved one. The other meditation focuses on growing the Protective Adult Self, the part of a person that inherently acts to protect a loved one.

The third Resource is the (Spiritual) Core Self. This refers to the core of one’s being. It is the ‘deeper’ part of self that is experienced during meditation, prayer or intense connections with nature. For some, this could be seen as a connection with a higher power. For others, it could be the connection to their Core Self.

The three Resources create a healing circle where wounded parts can become unstuck and be healed.

There are three phases involved in getting wounded parts unstuck. During the first phase, a Reactive Part is invited to enter the Healing Circle. These parts are welcomed, validated, and their stories heard in a supportive and nurturing space. In this space, the Reactive Part’s unmet needs are met by the Resources. The Reactive Part is given the time and space to become aware of and become integrated into the present time. The Reactive Part is encouraged to realize that it is reacting to old wounds and experiences and that it is safe in the present. By bringing reactive parts into the present, they can experience feeling safe and comforted, which reduces their reactivity.

In Phase 2, each Reactive Part is asked to engage with the wounding person (the person who caused the wound). The specific methods and by applying certain skills, the individual learn how to let go of the ‘costume’ that they wear whenever they behave in a manner that is similar to the person who wounded them.

During Phase 3, the Resources are shown how to meet the individual’s unmet needs – one at a time. In this phase, painful emotions are healed (one at a time), and the person establishes and grows a healthy, loving emotional bond with themselves. This stage could take between 2 and 4 hours.

The three phases can be repeated to address each issue that the client wants to heal. Through healing these wounded parts, the person becomes better equipped to respond to stress and triggering events in a more mature and balanced way.

Who can benefit from DNMS treatment

DNMS was developed for the most difficult and complicated trauma cases for clients who cannot handle processing through their trauma without dissociating but it can also be applied as a treatment to a variety of issues – especially if these issues arise from wounding in childhood. DNMS could benefit people with the following concerns:

  •         Anxiety
  •         depression
  •         Panic attacks
  •         Social phobia or anxiety
  •         Obsessions and compulsions
  •         Borderline personality
  •         Interpersonal relationship issues
  •         Substance abuse and addiction

Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy is a collaboration between a therapist and an individual. The person seeking treatment is encouraged to take ownership of, and responsibility for their healing by making use of their internal resources. Through specific phases, the individual learns new skills to heal and nurture themselves. Through DNMS, you can gently and lovingly heal from childhood wounds that affect your adult life.