Trauma Therapy Toronto: How to heal from childhood trauma

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Trauma Therapy Toronto: Are you looking for a way to work on yourself and heal from your childhood trauma? If you need some direction on what therapeutic techniques are effective for childhood trauma and what to ask a therapist when you interview them, then this article is for you.

The healing of childhood or developmental trauma can be achieved by focusing on four key aspects. A highly experienced and competent trauma therapist should be able to use various modalities to work on all these four aspects that are mentioned below.

Releasing Maladaptive Adaptations and Inner Child Work

When a child experiences trauma, be it abuse that is physical, emotional, psychological or sexual, or forms of abandonment, misattunement, and neglect, their mind and nervous system starts to make adaptations to survive those traumatic situations. For example, if your parents were hypercritical, then your mind may adapt to hide your talents and abilities, act small, try to be unseen or unheard, as a way to avoid being criticized. The adaptations are helpful during the worst periods in childhood, but become maladaptive in adulthood. The same “I am not good enough” core belief that kept you safe in childhood, now prevents you from finding a good job, receiving a promotion, or finding a healthy romantic partner.

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Using modalities such as Internal Family Systems, or Ego States Therapy, we can conceptualize that these maladaptive patterns and beliefs are being held by various inner child ego states, or “parts”. The inner child parts get activated by present day situations that remind them of situations from childhood and they get triggered. Once triggered, your Adult self may get hijacked, partially or completely, and lose the ability to think and act rationally. The inner child parts then take over and make you think and behave in an almost childlike way.

We would use Internal Family Systems and Ego States Therapy to work with these inner child parts to achieve the following goals:

  • Orient the emotional inner child parts to the “here and now”, and Adult Self presence and competence

  • Unblend the inner child part from Adult Self and depolarize the part from Adult or other parts. Improve collaboration, communication and compassion between all the parts involved. Help them realize that everyone is on the same team

  • Unburden the child parts from the adaptations that they are carrying, or reassign them new roles that are more positively adapted to current life situations

  • Unburden the child parts from traumatic memories and help those parts reconnect with their true childlike nature and innocence

  • Reduce dissociation between parts, if structural dissociation is present and significant

Healing from Deficit Trauma Arising from Abandonment, Misattunement & Neglect

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Often when we think of childhood trauma, we typically think of trauma of commission: terrible things being done to the child. An essential components that many trauma therapists ignore or miss is the deficit trauma. Deficit trauma is the form of trauma caused by the lack of good memories, attachments and parental attunement. Often the present-day symptoms are more acutely affected by deficit trauma rather than the memories of abuse. When interviewing a trauma therapist, please ask them about their approach to healing deficit trauma.

At EMDR Therapy Toronto, we use adaptations made to EMDR Therapy, to work with deficit trauma. One such adaptation is called Attachment-focused EMDR Therapy and Resource Tapping, formulated by Laurel Parnell.

It involves identifying Ideal Dad, Ideal Mom, Ideal Friend, and other such resource figures from books, movies, shows, Youtube, etc. and installing these figures into your emotional brain using EMDR Therapy. The Ideal Parents exercise is then implemented which involves tapping in new imagery-based narratives of being loved, respected and taken care of by these Ideal Parent figures. We use guided imagery and EMDR to help these narratives sink into the deeper layers of the emotional brain. You will feel the holes and gaps in the emotional tapestry of your childhood getting filled up by these new images. It may also bring up grief and anger and that is all part of the healing process.

Healing from Abusive Memories

You may experience PTSD-like symptoms stemming from the memories of abuse that you endured in childhood. These can be healed using the Standard Protocol of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR). At EMDR Therapy Toronto, we also supplement with additional trauma memory processing techniques such as Deep Brain Reorienting and Somatic Psychotherapy.

Healing Relational Trauma using the Therapeutic Relationship

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A core aspect of childhood trauma is that it is a form of relational and attachment trauma. Those who were supposed to care for you and love you, inflicted trauma and suffering. It can develop into a lack of trust in relationships, or becoming too trusting of toxic relationships. It can cause the person to flip-flop between clingy, anxious attachment and cold, distant avoidant attachment.

Hence in therapy, the therapeutic relationship with the psychotherapist becomes a key piece in the healing puzzle. At EMDR Therapy Toronto, Ayan Mukherjee has a lot of experience working with those who have been in hurt in relationships and knows the importance of consistency and safety, effective attachment repair, apologizing when needed, taking ownership of fault if it arises, and giving the client a new and healthy experience of relationship, within a professional and therapeutic container.

Healing from childhood trauma is not a small task and requires a lot of work, commitment and dedication from you and your psychotherapist. At EMDR Therapy Toronto, we focus on a collaborative, semi-structured, trauma-focused milestones-based approach to healing, rather than aimlessly talking about the past for many sessions. If you would like to know more about how we can help you heal your childhood trauma, then please fill the form below for a free 30-minute phone consultation.

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Ayan Mukherjee Registered Psychotherapist and Owner
Ayan Mukherjee is a Registered Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor, and an EMDRIA-Approved Certified EMDR Therapist and Consultant. Ayan has been practicing EMDR and complex trauma therapy since 2017, specializing in the treatment of anxiety, PTSD, Complex-PTSD, childhood trauma, along with Spiritual Psychotherapy.

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