Interviews

When a Childhood Hobby Turns Into a Tool To Help Others

In today’s interview, we wanted to speak with Ayan specifically because of his drawings he posts on his Instagram. In his art, he’s able to explain complex subjects such as aspects of trauma, dissociation, and more. Click read more to check out the full interview and to learn more about his artwork and how it is helping people today!

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Ayan Mukherjee and I am a Registered Psychotherapist, living and practicing in Toronto, Canada. Prior to becoming a psychotherapist, I worked for 9 years as a data analytics manager in commercial banking. I am of East Indian origin and arrived in Toronto, end of 2010 from Bangalore, India.

My education and career has been a bit all over the place. I graduated in engineering, before randomly finding myself working as a data analyst in the back office of an international bank, in India. I decided to study psychotherapy in 2013, after experiencing psychotherapy while dealing with depression, lack of motivation and purpose, associated with my banking career. So, this idea that we need to know what we want to do for the rest of our life, as a career, the moment we pop out of the womb, didn’t work for me.

I live in Toronto with my wife and we have a 10-month old Siberian kitten named Albus. In my spare time, I like learning new things. I am a bit of a generalist and have many hobbies and interests, which I pursue with varying levels of passion, at different periods in my life. Hobbies such as playing guitar, singing, drawing, contact improvisation and freestyle dancing, playing soccer, camping, kayaking, some amateur bushcrafting, etc.

In one of your first illustrations you wrote about how adulthood and doodling didn’t mix, and in the final frame in that drawing you wrote, “today I reclaim my long lost hobby”. What were your favorite things to draw/doodle as a child? And do you remember when/why you stopped drawing?
It’s kind of weird, but as a kid I drew a lot of battle scenes, horses and guns, despite being a very calm, shy kid, with no violent tendencies. I was obsessed with the depiction of war, from a soldier’s perspective and I often think that it might be a past life connection of some sort.

I stopped drawing when I finished high school and went off to university, in India. Now, when I think about it, maybe it was the lack of privacy, living in a dorm room with 4 other guys, during the first 2 years of university and the lack of alone time that led me to drop this old hobby.

How does it feel to pick up the hobby again?
I restarted drawing during the summer of 2018, as that was my first summer in full-time therapy private practice. I was feeling quite anxious about low client volumes and all the uncertainties and financial worries of a new practice. I wanted to occupy myself with a creative pursuit that could take my mind off such things. Also, my wife coaxed me into creating an Instagram account and I had no idea what to do with it. So it was, in a way, the perfect storm and once I started drawing, the inspirations and my muscle memory of drawing started coming back to me.

We love that you started to combine art with explaining complex topics like trauma, EMDR, attachment styles, and so many more. What lead you to that point of wanting to explore these complex topics through art?
I have this great desire to teach and to explain these ideas in a simpler way to my clients. Often the whole drawing idea with regards to a topic, such as EMDR – Before & After, would just flash in front of my mind’s eye and I would feel compelled to draw it. Most of my initial drawings on these therapy topics are not carefully planned and framed. They came to me fully formed and arranged. I just had to realize them and bring them to life on my drawing tablet. Later as these drawings started to become popular, I started to make a conscious decision to draw more about these topics and quickly found it to be a great niche, from a marketing and content creation standpoint.

You recently compiled these drawings into a flipbook called, Visual Aids for Trauma & EMDR Therapy. What should people expect to see and learn from the book?
I must say that my flipbooks are actually not created for the layperson, as some of the drawings need a bit of commentary and explanation. I have created them for therapists to use to educate their clients. I have 2 books now:

  1. Visual Aids for Trauma & EMDR Therapy: This is my older book and out of 18 drawings, it has 6 drawings that are specific to EMDR Therapy and it is meant for EMDR therapists.
  2. Visual Aids for Trauma Therapy: My latest book is more general about trauma therapy and it covers topics such as inter-generational trauma, window of tolerance, the Triune Brain, Polyvagal Theory, Internal Family Systems, Trauma and Attachment Styles, Phases of Trauma Therapy, etc. There is considerable overlap between the two books and this book is meant for non-EMDR therapists.

Where can people find you on social media?
They can find me on –

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/ayan_mukherjee_

Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/ayanmukherjeerp

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ayanmukherjeeRP/

My website – www.ayanrp.com

I also have an Etsy store called Therapy Illustrated. That’s where one can purchase my books. Also, every drawing included in my books can be purchased individually, as digital downloads at around $5 USD , per drawing. Here is the link to the store: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/TherapyIllustrated

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