One of my favorite things about being a psychotherapist in Barrie is being able to see people transform into the person they really want to be. One individual who really stands out for me was a young girl who came into see me when she was only 8 years old. She had been adopted after experiencing some significant trauma at a young age. She was struggling with  trauma and finding it difficult to find ways to express herself. She would often react in anger and aggression against the people trying to help her, and she had a difficult time sharing her emotions. Although I was reluctant to take her case on as I had not had a lot of experience working with children I agreed after a long discussion with the lovely woman who adopted this young girl who we will call Emily ( this is not her real name). Emily’s mom pleaded with me that they had went everywhere and nobody was willing to work with Emily due to the complexity of her case. She asked if I would at least agree to have an intake session with her and then decide. Emily’s mom was clever knowing that once I met this dynamic young girl there would be no denying her support.

Over several years Emily and I formed a trusting and meaningful therapeutic rapport. There were times when I didn’t see her as often and times where she required more intensive support. Eventually she learned skills to identify what she was feeling inside. After lots of gentle encouragement and caring Emily was able to share her traumatic experiences and she came to see how they were linked to her reactions. Emily started to feel more in control of her emotions and she started to excel in school. She became very interested in science and wanted to become a veterinarian. I watched Emily grow up to become a teenager, after all those years of developing our therapeutic relationship Emily was easily able to reach out when she felt it would be helpful. As she grew, her relationships became more complex and we navigated the delicate interactions of teenage girls, first loves and parental relationships. Emily flourished through her teenage years to become the incredible 17 year old she is now. It’s not to say there weren’t still times when she didn’t struggle or there was not cause for concern. The difference was that she learned to trust that she would persevere through difficulty. She learned to trust me and then she learned to trust herself.

It can’t be overstated what a privilege it is to be a part of another humans journey in such an intimate way. Emily’s mom has given me a great deal of praise for helping Emily. I always remind her that I only provided Emily with the safe space and skills, and that Emily had everything she needed within her to heal the trauma wounds and become the lovely person she is today. I’ve told both Emily and her Mom that I likely learned as much if not more from Emily then she did from me. I learned and witnessed that the human spirit can be an unbreakable force and healing is always possible even in the darkest of times.

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