Introduction to internal working models:
Internal Working Models:
Internal representations of self, caregivers, and the world initially generated via experiences with the primary caregiver, modified by the interpretation of experiences through the rest of our lives.
Positive Internal Working Models:
Internal representations of self, caregivers, and the world initially generated via positive experiences with the primary caregiver. These beliefs are: I am lovable, adults can be trusted, the world is safe, modified by the interpretation of experiences through the rest of our lives.
Negative Internal Working Model
Negative internal working model (NIWM): the beliefs initially generated via traumatic experiences with the primary caregiver. These beliefs are: I am unlovable, adults cannot be trusted, the world is unsafe, modifiable by the interpretation of experiences through the rest of our lives.
- Everyone contains a mixture of positive and negative models.
- Models formed with primary caregiver (ideal)
- Positive-what/how a parent generates the model
- Negative-what/how a parent generates the model
- Primary caregivers give mixed models (mixed-good enough)
- Good enough parenting (positive enough model)Traumatized children may not have this experience and have a more pure model.
- Models are modified by interpretation of experiences
- After initial models are formed, interpretation of life events may reinforce our model or provide a contrary model.
- Example: first picture of primary caregiver is untrustworthy and dangerous. how we interpret foster parent’s behavior-interested in our welfare, making decisions for our good. Clash of two internal working models. The overarching model we use now has two models instead of the one. We may question are beliefs about self, others, and the world.
- Example: “A child lives in Florida and her house is warm, safe, and secure Positive Internal Working Model (PIWM). When a hurricane sweeps through, her home is damaged. She experienced two weeks without power and a loss of possessions. Now, she has an internal working model of insecurity (NIWM).”
- These internal models interact with each other primarily without conscious awareness to produce interpretations, emotions, and responses to events.
- Example of interaction:
- Foster mom attempts to help with homework. The child’s NIWM causes the child to argue, fane ignorance, lie, whine, and cry. Foster mom becomes angry, belligerent, and controlling. (consequencing until..) The child’s NIWM initially generated opposition. Mom’s dysregulation looks and sounds very much like bio-mom. The new experience despite foster mom’s goal joins with and reinforces the child’s NIWM.
- Adults work continuously to repair the hurricane damage. Gradually, the home is restored and lost possessions are replaced. The child’s NIWM the world is dangerous is impacted by the recovery experience and reinforces her previous PIWM-the world is safe.In the above two examples, the internal working models reinforced the original models.
- If the foster mother could have remained regulated, loving and assistive, the child’s NIWM instilled by the biological-primary caregiver would have been slightly weakened by the child’s experience with the foster mom.If the house was never rebuilt, possessions were not replaced, the family was unable to recover and eventually broke up. The child’s PIWM would now be weakened by the hurricane experience. the world would forever feel less safe.
- Most people don’t think about their internal models. Differing circumstances trigger differing models. Its possible to intentionally choose which model we respond with to which circumstance. To be discussed in later presentation.
© 2022 – 2023, Jeff and Faye. All rights reserved.