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Sunday, April 28, 2013

More Seniors Are Attending Psychotherapy These Days

More senior citizens are attending psychotherapy these days, according to Abby Ellin of the New York Times (see link for the article and a video below).  For many seniors, the stigma that once was associated with attending therapy no longer exists.  They've seen their children and grandchildren attend therapy and they're aware now that a person doesn't have to be "crazy" to attend therapy.  Also, people are living longer these days, and many of them don't want to live an unexamined life for their remaining years.

People Are Living Longer and Many of Them Don't Want to Live an Unexamined Life

My Internship Experience With Senior Citizens at a Local Nursing Home
When I was in graduate school, I was a clinical social work intern at a local nursing home.  At the time, the thinking was that all these senior residents needed was someone to talk to and keep them company because they were lonely.

So, I was assigned to meet with a few of the residents on a weekly basis, and as I met with them, I discovered that they had unique problems at this stage of their lives that weren't being addressed.

More Seniors Are Attending Psychotherapy These Days 
Recognizing that senior citizens have unique issues that are often unaddressed might seem like commonsense now, but back then, this wasn't the thinking in the administration.  They were quite surprised to hear that residents were interested in talking about their personal histories and how it affected their lives, unresolved family issues, their emotional and social isolation, their fear of dying, and many other related issues.

A Positive Shift in Perspective For Administrators:  Seniors Can Benefit From Psychotherapy
The administration was surprised at how open these residents were to talk about themselves and their problems.  Rather than just "keeping them company,"the residents and I were addressing important, sometimes longstanding, issues in their lives.

I was very happy that by the time I left the internship, the administration had changed their views, and they hired a therapist to provide psychotherapy sessions to these residents.

Many Seniors Can Work Through Trauma
There is one area where I disagree with Ms. Ellin.  At one point in the video, she says she thinks that most seniors probably will not make big changes in their lives.

Many Seniors Can Work Through Unresolved Trauma
Of course, a person's ability to make changes, no matter what the age, is different for each person.  But, contrary to what I understood Ms. Ellin to say, I have worked with senior citizens using EMDR to work through longstanding trauma.  So, contrary to what many people think, many seniors can, indeed, make big changes in their lives.

I am a 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:

How Therapy Can Help in the Golden Years - by Abby Ellin - New York Times

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photo credit: Old Shoe Woman via photopin cc

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