-Guest written by Andrew Bertram, Registered Clinical Counsellor
I spent many of my formative years growing up on a rural property in the Canadian prairies in what was originally an old farmhouse, complete with a damp, dark basement with the occasional mouse visitor. To my growing mind, this basement was one of the creepiest places I had ever encountered. My anxiety would swell any time I needed to run down to grab a jar from the cold room or pull out something from storage. Sometimes I would invite my much younger brother to accompany me which, interestingly, made me feel much safer. Realistically, I wasn’t in any danger but having my toddler brother with me wouldn’t have actually protected me from whatever kind of horror my imagination was afraid may be lurking anyway. As I reflect on this, I am struck by the noticeable difference this made to my nervous system though. I was able to access a different level of courage and confidence that I wasn’t, just by knowing that I wasn’t alone.
In my own healing journey and in my journey to become a therapist, this memory has stuck with me, especially as I have come to discover and practice Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP). One of the core tenets of AEDP is “undoing aloneness”. Developed by Dr. Diana Fosha, AEDP draws inspiration from attachment theory, affective neuroscience, and developmental psychology to break down the walls of loneliness and harness the power of emotional processing to ignite the rewiring of the brain. What sets AEDP apart is the unwavering belief in our innate capacity for change and growth.
As we move through life and especially as our brain develops, we may encounter emotions that are unbearable or where we have to choose preserving a relationship over our own experience. AEDP recognizes that genuine and empathetic connection is crucial for emotional healing and fostering resiliency and change. Through attuned and compassionate presence, the therapist aims to create a space where clients can explore and express their emotions without fear of judgment. By dismantling the walls of aloneness, AEDP offers a transformative experience of being deeply understood, accepted, and supported.
Another core tenet of AEDP is the belief in the profound relationship between emotional processing and neuroplasticity. Emotional experiences, when acknowledged, validated, and integrated, can lead to lasting changes in neural pathways, rewiring the brain for healthier functioning. AEDP focuses on helping clients access and process emotions that have been suppressed, repressed, or avoided, leading to increased emotional awareness, regulation, and resilience.
In AEDP, therapy is not just about gaining insight into past experiences; it is also about creating transformational moments in the present. These moments occur when clients deeply feel and process emotions that were previously overwhelming or avoided. By fully experiencing and exploring these emotions within the supportive therapeutic relationship, individuals can rewrite their narratives, release old patterns, and cultivate new ways of being.
AEDP recognizes the inseparable link between the mind and body. The therapeutic process incorporates somatic awareness, allowing clients to tune into their bodily sensations and experiences. By attending to physical sensations and patterns, AEDP helps clients access and process emotions that may be stored in the body, leading to profound healing and transformation.
Through the combination of reducing aloneness, engaging in emotional processing, and embracing the mind-body connection, AEDP empowers individuals to cultivate resilience and well-being. By fostering new neural pathways and promoting emotional flexibility, AEDP equips clients with the tools to navigate future challenges with greater ease and adaptability.