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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Overcoming Your Fear of Abandonment That Keeps You in an Unhealthy Relationship - Part 2:

In my blog post yesterday, I began the discussion about fear of being alone and lonely, how common it is, and how it can manifest: Are Your Fears of Being Abandonment Keeping You in an Unhealthy Relationship? Part 1.

In today's blog post I will focus on how I help clients to overcome the fear of being alone and lonely.

How Fear of Being Alone and Lonely Can Be Related to Childhood Trauma
As previously discussed, the fear of being alone is often a fear about a trauma that has already occurred, usually in childhood.

While it's true that, as adults, many people unconsciously recreate similar relationships in their lives by choosing people who are emotionally unreliable or who are likely to leave them, that's a topic for another blog post.

The fear that I'm focusing on in yesterday's and today's posts is of the irrational kind where, objectively, there is no rational reason in the here and now to be afraid.

Overcoming Fear of Abandonment
Mind-Body Psychotherapy to Treat Fear of Being Alone
In terms of working through this fear, there is no quick fix. However, in my professional opinion as a psychotherapist who specializes in working with trauma, there are certain treatment modalities that are usually better than others.

Obviously, there is no one-size-fits-all solution but, generally speaking, my experience has been that mind-body oriented psychotherapy is usually more effective than regular talk therapy alone.

When I refer to mind-body psychotherapy, I'm referring to the types of therapies that focus on the mind-body connection. These include clinical hypnosis, EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, and clinical hypnosis.

When these mind-body oriented treatment modalities are used by a skilled clinician, they tend to be more effective and, generally, work faster than talk therapy alone.

The Mind-Body Psychotherapy Process
During the first few psychotherapy sessions, I listen to the client's experience of how the fear of abandonment is affecting him in his or her current life.

Often, this fear has an adverse effect on his or her current relationship or it might be creating an obstacle with regard to meeting new people. Then, I usually want to get some information about family history, the quality of those relationships and any history of loss or trauma.

From there, I want to assess a client's emotional resources and coping skills before delving into the work. This is especially important when working on trauma.

A skilled clinician will want to ensure that a client has the emotional capacity to work on these issues so that the work will not be retraumatizing. If the client doesn't have the emotional capacity to do the work, a responsible therapist focuses on helping the client to develop the emotional resources.

For example, this might involve teaching the client to do a self soothing meditation on a safe or relaxing place so that he or she doesn't become emotionally overwhelmed while doing trauma work or between therapy sessions.

Often, during this phase of assessing a client's internal resources, many clients ask, "How long will this take?" In fact, there's usually no way to know in advance. Each client is different.

For some clients who have developed emotional resources on their own, the resourcing stage might be relatively short. For instance, if a client already has a regular meditation practice or goes to yoga on a regular basis, more than likely, the resourcing phase will be shorter than for someone who has little in the way of internal resources.

Of course, most of us have coping abilities just to get through life. It's more a question of degree and whether attempts at coping are maladaptive.

In any form of psychotherapy, the relationship between the therapist and the client is important. Under optimal circumstances, when it's a good match, the client develops a sense of trust in the therapist over time.

Without this sense of trust and safety, there is relatively little good therapeutic work that can be done. This is especially true in cases where clients have a fear of being abandoned. Often, this fear will extend into the relationship with the therapist.

Clients will often struggle with their insecurities as to whether it's safe to open up to the therapist, especially if they have a history of feeling abandoned in their early primary relationships.

Assuming that a client is motivated to do the work, sufficiently resourced, and feels safe enough with the therapist to begin doing therapeutic work, then the issue is which treatment modality will work best for a particular client.

Each client is obviously unique. What might be less obvious is that certain types are therapy are more effective for a particular client. Assessing this is often more of an art than a science. At times, I might have an intuitive sense of whether, let's say, hypnosis might work better than EMDR for a particular client.

Other times, it might be a matter of trying a particular mode and seeing how well it works. It helps to have a range of diverse techniques to choose from so that if one technique is ineffective for a particular client, the clinician can try another.

It's not possible in one blog post to discuss every therapeutic method and how it works. Generally, most forms of mind-body psychotherapy work to help clients overcome the original trauma so that it's no longer affecting them in their circumstances.

The advantage of mind-body oriented psychotherapy is that it's not just about developing intellectual insight. While insight is important, it's often not enough to bring about a change or to heal. In my experience, healing is much more likely to occur when there is a more integrative, holistic approach, which Somatic Exiiperiencing, cinical hypnosis, EMDR and other mind-body therapeutic techniques offer.

Working on the original trauma that created the fear of abandonment usually has generalizeable effects. This means that, often, it's not necessary to work on every memory of being abandoned because working on the earliest memory can produce enough of a healing effect to help the client overcome the fear of being abandoned.

In some cases, it might be necessary to work through a few of the seminal experiences of trauma to overcome this fear.

It's important to know, especially for people who suffer with a fear of being abandoned, that it's possible to work through this fear to lead a more fulfilling life. When you can live your life without a fear of being abandoned, you're free to experience the happiness you deserve.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples. 

I have helped many clients overcome their fears of being alone and loneliness so they can lead fulfilling lives.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist


To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006.

photo credit: Rowena Waack via photopin cc



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