Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy - DNMS

Aug 07, 2020



The back of a father holding a child's hand and walking towards a water with the sun being reflected in it

DNMS – Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy

The DNMS is by far the very best and most powerful type of therapy that I have come across to help you heal from painful childhood wounds and traumas. Shirley Jean Schmidt developed the DMNS therapy model.

The therapy is based on something therapists call ‘ego states.’ In simple language, it assumes that a person is made up of psychological parts.

Just like when you say ‘a part of me wishes X and a part of me wishes X (=conflict), so too the DNMS assumes that there are child/wounded parts and adult parts inside of each one of us.

But these things happened in the past, now what?

True, we can’t turn the clock back as much as we wish we could. However, in DNMS language, a child part can be stuck in the past due to unmet developmental needs. It looks like this: you experienced something negative in your childhood, and it still hurts when you think about it.

It is as if the child inside of you is still waiting for those needs to be met. You might have become overly sensitive to a trigger that is similar to that childhood one. In that sense, we can say that you are stuck in the past regarding that specific topic. If you agree that ‘intellectually’ speaking, you overreact on certain triggers and yet you can’t control it: you are essentially saying that you are stuck.

How do you get unstuck?

That is where DNMS comes in. Here is a little introduction to the DNMS

The basic premise is to help the child part get unstuck. Most people that have really been affected negatively in their childhood by overt abuse or by not having their needs met, intuitively feel that something about them requires getting unstuck but they don’t know how to get unstuck.

Some signs that a part of you could be stuck in the past

  • You suffered from attachment ruptures that have not been healed
  • You avoid close relationships out of fear
  • It is difficult for you to be open and vulnerable
  • You have intense negative emotions towards your parent(s)
  • You get overly sensitive about stuff that deep down you feel shouldn’t get you that upset
  • Specific unmet needs in childhood (ex. affection, love, empathy, etc.) have become obsessive pursuits in adulthood
  • You connect with the idea of being hurt by negative events in childhood as much as being hurt by the lack of positive things that didn’t take place and should have
  • You connect with the idea of hearing ‘recordings’ of negative childhood messages in the present such as ‘you are worthless’. These messages might have been said verbally in childhood but could equally have been non-verbal

Is DNMS for you?

So if you are intrigued by the idea, then let me tell you a little bit of what the therapy looks like and you can decide whether it is for you. For a start, you will probably start with a current presenting problem.

This might be a belief, an unwanted behavior or an emotion that you’d want to get rid of. The child part connected to that problem, will be asked to come forward. Don’t worry if you can’t think of any now, this is the therapist’s job.

Establishing resources

The first steps of the therapy will be to help you establish resources that consist of your most healthy adult self. The child part will thus be connecting with your most adult self.

There will be quite a lot of dialogue between the two which is the essence of self-soothing. The resources will be assisting the child parts in switching off the recordings of negative messages, meet their unmet needs and manage the complex image in their head of early maladaptive relationships.

Relief on its way

Many people that go through the DNMS protocol with a trained therapist relate that they feel a burden has come off their chest. They feel a sense of freedom that comes with having quietened the internal conflicts that was so much part of their lives.

They also report an increase in their self-esteem and confidence, think back less to their painful episodes of childhood, are less addicted to various soothing type of addictions that used to occupy them whenever they were triggered, and some even reported relief from dissociative symptoms which can be a result of severe childhood maltreatment.

Here is a longer video by Shirley Jean Schmidt (the developer) explaining the theory and method of the DNMS




Going for this deep work

So if you suffer from depression, or social anxiety, substance abuse and addiction or relational difficulties and you intuitively feel that it is connected with a challenging childhood then this is by far the most thorough and effective method that I know of in the treatment of childhood wounds.

You do have to be comfortable with some very deep work. There is very deep processing happening which will trigger a lot of intense emotions as you and your therapist go through the steps of this long and solid protocol. Just imagine as if I as a therapist would be talking to you as the child of X years old going through his/her difficulties and help with processing.

If you like this kind of idea, I can pretty much reassure you that you will experience incredible relief and healing. To find a therapist you can click this link. You can also search for therapists that do long distance therapy.

Shirley Jean Schmidt also wrote a book describing her therapy model but the book is mainly geared towards therapists but it could also give you a good idea of what this therapy entails. It is not an easy read though. If you’d like to have a read, you can get it from Amazon by clicking on the book image:

You can also check out my own page here:

Parenting according the the DNMS

Since writing the post, many people have emailed asking me whether there is a parenting style that could avoid causing these childhood wounds in kids. I’ll be writing a separate post about that, but in the meantime, here is one book that also comes with a workbook that perfectly fits the DNMS ideas and based on latest research on neuroscience by Dan Siegel. Here are the links to the book as well as the workbook.

The workbook:


If you’d like to get relief from wounded childhood whilst you are still debating whether to do DNMS, then I recommend you listen to this hypnosis download ‘A troubled Childhood’

Listening to this recording several times will start to ease your pain and hurt from your past. Also:

  • Your emotional scars will start to heal
  • You will begin to feel more fulfilled and excited by life
  • You will be able to start focusing on the future.

Have a look at it.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below or by emailing me directly to [email protected]

To your health,




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