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Monday, March 11, 2013

Emotional Healing From the Inside Out With Clinical Hypnosis

Many psychotherapy clients come to see me for clinical hypnosis because they've been unable to overcome their emotional pain on their own.  Often, before coming to therapy, their efforts have involved distracting themselves from their emotional pain by "staying busy." But, over time, they realized that "staying busy" or distracting themselves was, at best, only a temporary solution.  And it often made them feel worse over time.  So, it's usually a relief for them to discover that clinical hypnosis is a safe and effective form of therapy when it is performed by a skilled hypnotherapist.

Keeping Yourself Distracted Isn't the Solution to Emotional Healing
While remaining engaged with friends, loved ones, and particular activities that you enjoy is important and can provide you with emotional support, when you throw yourself into a frenzy of activity to avoid feeling painful feelings, you're delaying the healing process.  You're temporarily pushing down feelings that you're uncomfortable with, but these uncomfortable feelings will only come up again, often more intensely than before, once you're no longer engaged in activity.

Keeping Yourself Distracted Isn't the Solution to Emotional Healing
Even if you could manage to keep yourself busy and distracted all day long to avoid feeling your feelings, eventually, you need to go to sleep.  This is the time when most people can no longer suppress their uncomfortable feelings and they begin to suffer with anxiety and insomnia.

The following vignette, which is a composite of many cases, illustrates why "staying busy" isn't a solution for overcoming emotional pain and how clinical hypnosis can help:

After his 10 year marriage ended, Dan began to feel overwhelming sadness.  Even though he was the one who initiated the divorce and he thought he would be relieved once his marriage ended, he missed being married and sharing his life with a partner.  Even if his marriage to Carol was no longer working, they had several good years together and they shared a life together.

Normally, Dan was someone who rarely cried.  But, after his divorce, there were times when he felt unexpectedly overwhelmed by emotion and choked up with tears.  This feeling of emotional vulnerability felt almost unbearable for him.  He didn't understand it and he didn't like it.

His friend, Joe,  told Dan that the best solution for his sadness was to "stay busy."  So, Dan started going to the gym everyday.  He immersed himself in work and took on extra assignments at work so he was there until late at night.  And, he planned his calendar with social activities with friends and family every weekend for months in advance.

If any of his friends or family members asked Dan how he was doing since the divorce, Dan deflected their questions by changing the subject.  If people persisted in asking him about his emotional state, he would tell them that he appreciated their concern, but he felt that "wallowing" in his emotions wouldn't help him, and he didn't want to think about it.

Avoiding His Emotional Pain Made Dan Feel Worse
After about two months, Dan realized that his feelings of sadness were intensifying, even though he was doing all he could to "keep busy."  He was already staying at work as late as he could, and he couldn't take on any more work assignments.  His social calendar was completely booked up with dinners and outings with friends and family, so it wasn't possible to book any more activities.  And despite how physically exhausted he felt at night, he couldn't turn off his thoughts, so he was having problems falling and staying asleep.

Dan's Doctor Recommended That He See a Psychotherapist
By the third month, Dan felt like he had been in a train wreck:  He was exhausted, anxious and felt like he would cry at the drop of a hat.  He went to see his doctor, who told Dan, "I can give you a prescription to help you sleep, which would be a temporary solution.  But, based on what you're telling me, you're trying to run away from your feelings by staying busy all the time, and it's not working.  I recommend that you talk to a therapist and deal with your emotions rather than avoiding them."  Then, his doctor referred him to me.

Dan had never been to therapy before, so he wasn't comfortable with this recommendation.  But he also knew that he couldn't go on this way.  He trusted his doctor and made an appointment for a consultation.

Dan Learns About Clinical Hypnosis
Over time, Dan and I worked together using clinical hypnosis to help him work through his sadness about the end of his relationship.  Gradually, he began to accept that he was having a common reaction to a significant loss in his life.  He also realized that his current loss was intensified by earlier losses that he had never dealt with years before.

Dan Realized He Had Misconceptions About Clinical Hypnosis
As he came to his weekly sessions, Dan discovered that all his preconceived notions about clinical hypnosis were based on common misconceptions about hypnosis.  Before his hypnosis sessions, he would have thought that hypnosis was something that was "done" to a person as he or she went into a trance.  He always thought before that hypnosis would involve giving over control to the hypnotherapist.  But his experience was that, during hypnosis, he felt relaxed and nurtured and, at the same time, he realized that he was active and completely in control the entire time.

Dan Developed the Capacity to Deal With His Emotions Using Clinical Hypnosis
During hypnosis, Dan was able to access his inner emotional world, which he had been so afraid to do before.  He realized that although he had waves of tremendous sadness, overall, he was developing the capacity to deal with his sadness, and the sadness was no longer overwhelming.  He also learned how to soothe himself when he was feeling emotionally overwhelmed and agitated at night.

Healing From the Inside Out with Clinical Hypnosis
Dan no longer needed to keep himself involved in a frenzy of activity to avoid his feelings because during his hypnosis sessions, he was healing from the inside out.

Healing From the Inside Out With Clinical Hypnosis

After a while, most people come to the same conclusion as Dan--they can't keep themselves completely distracted all the time to avoid feeling their feelings.  And, even if they manage to keep themselves distracted most of the time during their waking hours, they have difficulty sleeping  because they can't quiet their minds at night, so they become exhausted.

Getting Help
Distracting yourself and staying busy isn't the answer to emotional healing.  So, if you find that your way of dealing with your emotional pain isn't working, you don't have to suffer alone.  You could benefit from seeing a licensed mental health professional who is skilled in hypnotherapy.

I am licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.  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 or email me at

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