I have been a registered psychotherapist in Barrie for almost a decade and before the decade before that worked in the counselling field. During this time I have had the privilege of witnessing many incredible journeys of growth and healing. One recent success story that stands out to me is my work with a gentleman who reached out for psychotherapy due to symptoms of depression and anxiety that he was experiencing due to a recent breakup. He has noticed difficulty sleeping at times, feeling isolated and ruminating thoughts. During our first few sessions he shared that his self-esteem had been impacted by the breakup noting several instances of betrayal and abandonment that had occurred. He was upset with himself for staying in the relationship long after he knew that his partner did not have his best interests at heart.
Looking at his situation from a trauma perspective I was curious about what might have led him to stay in a toxic relationship for so many years. It was obvious he was an intelligent, thoughtful and caring person deserving of someone who shared these characteristics. When we discussed his childhood he shared that he lost his mother tragically and suddenly at a young age. Although his basic needs were met, he was not provided with the resources to help him emotionally process this profound loss leading to an unresolved wound. He felt a sense of betrayal and abandonment. When discussing this loss he was able to rationalize the loss, stating that he had dealt with it, the event was sad but in his past and he has accepted it. After more probing though he began to feel emotional while discussing it. We explored the idea of using EMDR therapy to help him resolved this painful emotional material that his brain had locked away for his own protection.
He was receptive to this idea and began to see the significant parallels between the loss of his mother and the ending of his recent relationship. He realized that both scenarios triggered a feeling of abandonment and betrayal. He began to understand that sometimes we subconsciously create similar situations in adult years in order to heal wounds from childhood. Because he was open to the therapeutic process and had a strong desire to heal he found this insight helpful in his quest to move forward. After acknowledging that his mother’s death did still hold a significant degree of emotional disturbance we began to use EMDR bi-lateral stimulation to process the unresolved material. During reprocessing he was able to access the pain that had been locked away for all those years. After several more session he was able to reflect on the memory, still feeling a sense of sadness and loss, however the intensity of disturbance had dramatically decreased. Several months have passed since then and he is now able to report that he truly knows and feels he is deserving of a partner who respects and loves him. He is working on creating healthy meaningful connections and his self-worth has increased dramatically. I felt very fortunate to be a part of this mans healing journey. It is always incredibly rewarding to see the benefits of EMDR helping to heal traumatic events and allow people to move forward in wellness and thriving.
Jody Copeland (PR)
Founder – Beyond Trauma Recovery Centre