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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Overcoming Guilt with Mind-Body Psychotherapy

As a psychotherapist in NYC, I see many clients who come to therapy to overcome guilt.  Guilty feelings can keep you feeling stuck and filled with shame.  You might know logically that you have no objective reason to feel guilty but, often, that's not enough to help you overcome these feelings, which can be so debilitating.  

Feeling Like You're Not Lovable or Not Good Enough
Often, just behind the feelings of guilt, there are underlying distorted beliefs about yourself, like "I'm not good enough" or "I'm not lovable," which keep the guilt alive.  These distorted beliefs, not only affect how you feel about your past, but they also affect your life in the present.  If you feel unlovable or unworthy, it often affects the choices that you make in your relationships, career, and other important aspects of your life.  You might choose to be with someone who is abusive because you feel so unworthy.  Feelings of low self worth can also keep you from striving to have what you want in your life.  If you have very low self worth, you might not even feel that you're entitled to want anything at all.

Regular talk therapy often doesn't help to overcome these distorted underlying beliefs that fuel the guilt.  Although you might gain insight into these beliefs, having the insight, by itself, usually doesn't change how you feel.  You might know that the beliefs are distorted and they're a hindrance in your life but, on an emotional level, you still feel guilty.  This is one of the most frustrating parts of regular talk therapy because clients often don't understand why their thoughts and emotions are in conflict, so they ask themselves and their therapist, "If I know that there's no logical reason for me to feel guilty, why do I still feel guilty?"  At that point, there's usually an impasse in therapy because there's no way to overcome the underlying distortions.  And, the client might leave therapy feeling inadequate for not being able to change.

I have nothing against talk therapy at all.  In fact, my original training is in psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy.  I still use contemporary, dynamic talk therapy with many of my clients.  But, in certain cases, I know that talk therapy has its limitations.  

Mind-Body Psychotherapy
Especially in cases where a client has intractable guilt, I usually use a mind-body oriented psychotherapy, like EMDR, clinical hypnosis or Somatic Experiencing.  Whereas talk therapy often remains on an intellectual level, mind-body oriented psychotherapy is usually more effective in resolving guilt and the underlying distorted beliefs on a visceral as well as an intellectual level.  Mind-body oriented psychotherapy allows clients to shift emotions on a deeper level.  

Aside from being more effective for overcoming guilt and trauma, mind-body oriented psychotherapy often works faster than talk therapy.  This doesn't mean that guilt and trauma are resolved in only a few sessions, but clients often see progress a lot faster than years of talk therapy.  

To find out more about EMDR, clinical hypnosis, and Somatic Experiencing, you can visit the following websites:


I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.  I have helped many clients overcome guilt and trauma to lead more fulfilling lives.  

I work with individual adults and couples.

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: Photo Pin