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Friday, June 28, 2013

Overcoming Shame: Is Shame Keeping You From Starting Psychotherapy?

Shame can be a powerful and crippling emotion.  Shame is often the underlying emotion for many people who are depressed and anxious.  Unfortunately, for many people who could benefit from psychotherapy to overcome shame, their deep sense of shame keeps them from beginning therapy.

Overcoming Shame: Is Shame Keeping You From Starting Therapy?

For adults who experience this type of deep rooted shame, the origin of their shame usually stems of unmet emotional needs in childhood experiences at an early age.

Shame Can Begin As Early As Infancy
For instance, shame can begin as early as infancy when a baby makes repeated attempts to get her mother's attention and her mother, who might be depressed, is unable to be emotionally attuned to the baby.  Examples of this type of lack of emotional attunement between mothers and babies can be seen in the attachment research of psychoanalyst Beatrice Beebe.

Overcoming Shame:  Shame Can Begin at an Early Age

The following vignette, which is a composite of many different psychotherapy cases with all identifying information changed, illustrates how detrimental shame can be and also how shame can be overcome in therapy using a mind-body oriented therapy approach:

Mary
Mary, who was an only child, grew up in a household where her mother suffered with longstanding depression.  Her father, who was a merchant marine, was usually away from home.

Even as a young child, Mary sensed that her parents never really wanted to have a child.  Her mother, Ann, made sure that Mary's basic physical needs were taken care of but, because of her depression, she had little energy to play with Mary, read a book to her, or take her to the park.

When Mary was at home, she spent most of her time by herself, and she felt lonely.  Her mother, who barely had energy to feed and clothe Mary, spent most of her time sleeping.  When Ann was awake, Mary attempted to get her attention by telling her stories about what happened in her kindergarten class that day.  She hoped to cheer her mother up, but Ann was too immersed in her depression to really listen.

As a result, Mary grew up feeling like there was something wrong with her.  Although she did well academically and she had a few close friends, as a young adult, she was very shy and felt awkward around people she was meeting for the first time.  She compared herself to other people her age and she felt there was something missing in her, but she didn't know what it was.

By the time she was in her early 20s, Mary longed to be like other women her age who seemed to be so confident around men.  But she didn't know how to overcome her shyness.  Even when men her age approached her and seemed interested, Mary would blush and become tongue tied.

Mary wanted more than anything to overcome her shyness and her sense of embarrassment.  She considered starting psychotherapy, but every time she made an appointment, she cancelled it because she felt too embarrassed to talk to a therapist.  Once, she made an appointment, promised herself that she wouldn't cancel it, but she couldn't bring herself to actually walk into the therapist's office building.  She walked around the block several times, and then she went home feeling defeated.

Overcoming Shame

Then, one day, Mary, who was feeling increasingly frustrated with her lack of progress in overcoming her problems on her own, managed to come to see me for a therapy consultation.  When she described her shyness and awkwardness around people, she was relieved to hear that this is a common problem for many people.  Since she tended to compare herself unfavorably to other people, who seemed so confident to her, she assumed that she was the only one who struggled with these feelings.

Our therapy work began with helping Mary to identify experiences that she had throughout her life, however fleeting they might be, where she had a sense of pride.  Since she did very well in school, most of these experiences involved academic achievements.  Even some of these experiences were tinged with some shame when they involved getting up in front of people to get an academic award.

Using a type of mind-body oriented therapy called Somatic Experiencing, we worked on helping to build Mary's confidence as a first step before we worked on the origin of her shame, which was rooted in her unmet emotional needs as a child.

To her credit, Mary stuck with our Somatic Experiencing work, which was gradual.  Over time, she began to work through her shame so she could begin to feel, for the first time in her life, that she was a person who was worthy of having meaningful relationships and experiences in her life.

The Courage to Come to Therapy to Heal From Shame
When someone is feeling as much shame as Mary did, it takes a lot of courage to come to therapy.  This is especially true for people who have so many unmet emotional needs from childhood.

Many people, who are shy, awkward around other people or who feel easily embarrassed, don't realize that their problems are rooted in shame from early experiences.  A person doesn't have to come from an extremely dysfunctional home to develop shame at an early age.  Shame often develops in children in much more subtle ways without parents realizing it.

Starting With a Psychotherapy Consultation
People, who are afraid to start therapy due to their shame or for other reasons, often don't realize that they can start by asking for a therapy consultation which isn't a commitment to continue coming.  A consultation gives someone a chance to talk about his or her problem in a general way, to ask questions about the therapist and how s/he works, and to get a sense if  it would be a good match.

Getting Help in Therapy
Struggling with shame-based issues is much more common than most people realize.  Some people are better than others at hiding their sense of shame so that they appear confident on the outside when, in fact, they're masking their shame.

Unresolved shame often has an adverse impact both personally and professionally, even for people who have learned to hide it.


Getting Help
Rather than allowing shame to continue to have such a powerful effect on your life, you owe it to yourself to get help from a licensed psychotherapist who has experience helping therapy clients to overcome shame.  When you have overcome shame, you have a chance to lead a more fulfilling life.

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

I have helped many therapy clients to overcome shame so they can lead happier 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 or email me: josephineolivia@aol.com


















Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Relationships: Are You Attracted to People Who Hurt You?

Do you find yourself attracted over and over again to people who end up hurting you?  Is it just bad luck that you keep entering into these relationships or is there a particular dynamic going on in your life that you're not recognizing?

Why Do People Who Want Healthy Relationships End Up Choosing People Who Hurt Them?
Most people want a healthy, loving relationship.  They don't want to be hurt and disappointed.  And, yet, many of these same people find themselves stuck in a pattern where time after time they find someone who, at first, seems like a perfect match.  But, after a while, they discover that this person who, originally, appeared to be "the one," ends up hurting them.

Relationships:  Are You Attracted to People Who Hurt You? 

If most people are seeking loving relationship, why would they end up in dysfunctional relationships time after time?

The Power of Unconscious Unmet Emotional Needs From Childhood
Most of the time, there are unconscious processes operating in these situations.  The pull of these types of romantic relationships can feel like two magnets that are drawn together with such a powerful force.  In the beginning, this powerful connection adds to the feeling that "this feels so right."

Usually, what drives these powerful attractions that, in the end don't work out, are one or both person's unmet childhood needs.  In these situations, two people come together, without even realizing, based on unresolved unmet emotional needs from childhood.

When these unconscious unmet emotional needs get triggered in a romantic dynamic, they feel powerfully compelling.  Often, people will feel these strong feelings after a very short time, not realizing that what's driving these feelings are unconscious memories from the past.

The following is a fictionalized vignette based on a composite of many cases with all identifying information changed:

Nina
When Nina started therapy, her boyfriend had just ended their relationship.  This was the third relationship in  a row where things didn't work out for Nina.  She was feeling very discouraged because she was in her mid-30s, and she couldn't understand why this kept happening to her.

As far as Nina was concerned, at the beginning of all of these relationships, she was very happy.  Then, over time, Nina said, each of these men revealed other sides to their personalities that they had not revealed at the beginning.

When Nina meet her last boyfriend, Scott, she fell head over heals in love with him.  Even on that first day, she felt like she had known him all her life. There was something very familiar about him.

They moved in together after just a couple of months.  Initially, Nina felt very excited and happy about being with Scott.  She thought about him all day long and couldn't wait to see him at night.  She fantasized about getting married and having children with him.  She thought to herself that she had finally met the man of her dreams.

But by the third month, Scott seemed to change.  He was more irritable and critical of Nina.  Nina tried to appease him in every way that she could to no avail.  She couldn't believe this was happening to her again, and she assumed that, since she kept experiencing this in all her relationships, somehow, she must be doing something wrong.  But she didn't know what it was.

For the next two years, Nina exhausted herself trying to make Scott happy.  But it seemed that no matter what she did, he just seemed more and more dissatisfied.  Then, one day he packed up his things while she was out and left without warning.  He left some cash for his half of the rent, but there was no note and no explanation.  Nina tried to reach him, but he didn't respond to her calls or her email.  She was devastated.

Looking at Nina's family history, I discovered that all of Nina's boyfriends engaged in similar behavior patterns to her father, who left the family abruptly when Nina was four.  Unconsciously, Nina was playing out her childhood trauma over and over again in her adult romantic relationships.

As we talked about each of her relationships, she was able to see that there had been early warning signs from the beginning that she was in denial about all along.  In hindsight, she could see that she had gotten involved with each of these men too quickly and, in her initial excitement about the relationship, she overlooked red flags.

We also discovered that Nina had many unmet childhood emotional needs because her mother was too overwhelmed to nurture Nina as a child.  Knowing at an early age that her mother was overwhelmed, Nina pushed down her emotional needs and attempted to act like a grown up.  But this came at a tremendous cost to her emotionally.  And, in her adult romantic relationships, she was reenacting her childhood trauma.

We used Somatic Experiencing and EMDR to gradually work through her childhood trauma.  Then, Nina worked on developing healthier relationships.

Getting Help
The composite scenario above is a common experience for adults who experienced childhood trauma.  If you're usually attracted to people who hurt you, you owe it to yourself to get help from a licensed psychotherapist who works with trauma and who has experience helping clients to overcome this problem.

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

I have helped many clients to overcome their emotional trauma so they could lead more 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 or email me:  josephineolivia@aol.com
















Saturday, June 22, 2013

How the Early Attachment Bond Affects Adult Relationships: Part 4: Understanding the Impact

This is the fourth article in a series of blog articles about how the early attachment bond affects adult relationships.  The prior blog articles were:

How the Early Attachment Bond Affects Adult Relationships: Part 1
How the Early Attachment Bond Affects Adult Relationships: Part 2 - Insecure Attachment Styles
How the Early Attachment Bond Affects Adult Relationships: Part 3 - What Causes Insecure Attachment?

Understanding the Impact of the Early Attachment Bond
As I've discussed in prior articles, when there is a secure attachment bond between the mother and infant, both mother and child are attuned to each other.  Even though the infant can't speak, the infant picks up on nonverbal cues, including the mother's gaze (see picture below).   Infants are hard wired to bond with their primary caregivers.

Understanding the Impact of the Early Attachment Bond

When there is an insecure attachment, which usually occurs on a spectrum from difficult to traumatic,   the impact on the child will be significant.  Depending upon how out of attunement the mother is with the child, the child can grow up having difficulties forming close relationships.

Unfortunately, even when these adults come to therapy, if they see therapists who have little or no knowledge about the impact of the bonding process between mothers and children, the attachment issue can be overlooked.

Let's take a look at a hypothetical example.  As always, this is a fictionalized illustration that is made up of a composite of many cases with all identifying information changed:

Ted
Ted's mother, Mary, was 17 years old when she gave birth to Ted.  She was still in high school, and she wasn't ready to raise an infant.  Mary's parents were unwilling to help her, and Ted's father wanted nothing to do with the baby.  So, when Ted was two months months old, Mary brought him to live with her maternal grandmother, who lived out of state.  While Ted was away, Mary hoped to graduate from high school and find a job so she could support herself and Ted.

Ted's grandmother, Nina, was in her late 70s, and she suffered with arthritis.  She agreed to take Ted in because she didn't want Ted to end up in foster care and there was no one else in the family who could take care of him.

Nina was able to take care of Ted's basic physical needs in terms of food, shelter, and other basic necessities.  But she was too tired and in too much physical pain to spend time creating an emotional bond with him.

So, Ted remained in his crib most of the time.  Nina believed that if a baby cried, the primary caregiver should allow the baby to cry himself to sleep.  She believed that if she picked him up, she would spoil him.  She had never learned that babies need love and attention when they're in distress, so she had no idea how detrimental her lack of attention would be for Ted.

Ted would spend a lot of time crying in his crib and trying to get his great grandmother's attention.  After a while, he became exhausted and he would withdraw and fall asleep.

By the time Ted was one years old, Mary missed her son so much that she decided she wanted him back.  She quit school in her senior year, got a job, and she and three other friends rented an apartment together.  Then, against the advice of her family, she brought Ted back to live with her and her roommates.  It was crowded, but Mary was happy to have her son home, and she and her roommates took turns taking care of Ted.

Initially, Ted, who was accustomed to being around Nina, was frightened of being around Mary and her roommates.  Even though Nina wasn't nurturing towards him, he knew Nina and he didn't know Mary.  Mary and her roommates were strangers to him.  During the first few weeks, he crawled around Mary's apartment looking for Nina and crying when he couldn't find her.

Mary was very disappointed that Ted was frightened of her.  She had been missing him so much, and all she could think of was holding him in her arms and kissing him.  But he tended to shy away from her.  It took a while before he warmed up to her and allowed her to be loving towards him.

A few months later, two of Mary's roommates decided to move out.  Mary and her remaining roommate couldn't afford to pay the rent on the apartment.  Mary's parents refused to take her and her son in, so Mary felt she had no choice but to bring Ted back to Nina's home, and she rented a room for herself.

This back and forth pattern between Nina and Mary went on throughout most of Ted's childhood.  Ted grew up to be a shy, withdrawn child.  He had difficulty making friends, and he tended to keep to himself as a child, a teenager and a young man in his early 20s.

Ted managed to just get by in high school, and he obtained a full time job after graduation working in a department store.

By that time, Mary was in a better financial position and Ted lived with her.  She continued to try to develop a better relationship with Ted, but Ted never thought of her as his mother, even though he knew, of course, that she was his biological mother.

In his early 20s, Ted wanted very much to have a girlfriend, but he was dreaded the thought of allowing anyone to get close to him.  The result was that even though he was very lonely, he couldn't bring himself to attempt to meet women his age.

After much consideration, Ted began therapy to try to understand why he was having such difficulty trying to meet women.  His first therapist recognized that Ted was depressed, but she didn't understand how he was affected by the upheaval of moving between his mother and great grandmother as a child and how this affected his ability to form close relationships.  She referred him to a psychiatrist for anti-depressant medication, which helped somewhat.  But Ted still felt lonely and empty inside.

After a year in therapy, his therapist conceded that she wasn't able to help him, and she referred him to a more experienced therapist who happened to be knowledgeable about attachment theory.

Ted's new therapist could see that he was depressed, but after she heard his childhood history, she also understood that a major part of his problem involved early attachment issues.

His new therapist helped Ted to understand why he was so afraid of forming close relationships, even  though he was very lonely and craved a loving, nurturing relationship.  Gradually, she helped Ted to manage his fear while he took small, manageable steps to meet women.  She also helped him to work through the early trauma that caused him to feel a combination of dread and longing.

Over time, Ted was able to work through the early trauma and begin to form a close relationship with a woman he initially met online.  Things were bumpy at first because Ted was still frightened of getting close to his new girlfriend.  At times, he would pull away from her when he felt overwhelmed by fear.  But, gradually, he learned to trust her and he continued to do trauma work in therapy, he allowed himself to open up more to her.

Getting Help
If you think you might have problems with relationships due to early attachment issues, it's possible to work through these issues in therapy with a therapist who know is knowledgeable about early attachment issues, trauma, and this affects your ability to have close relationships.

Rather Than Continuing to Struggle on Your Own, You Can Get Help in Therapy to Live a More Fulfilling Life

Rather than continuing to struggle emotionally, you owe it to yourself to get the help you need so you can live a more fulfilling life.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR therapist, and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works 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:  josephineolivia@aol.com

Also see:
Psychotherapy Daily News 


photo credit: 
Insight Imaging: John A Ryan Photography via photopin cc

photo credit: CharlesFred via photopin cc


































Friday, June 21, 2013

How the Early Attachment Bond Affects Adult Relationships - Part 3: What Causes Insecure Attachment?

I've written two prior blog articles about the early attachment bond and how it affects adult relationships:  How the Early Attachment Bond Affects Adult Relationships - Part 1 and How the Early Attachment Bond Affects Adult Relationships: Part 2 - Insecure Attachment Styles.  

In this blog article, I would like to address what causes the primary caregiver, usually the mother, to have an insecure attachment style.

The Importance of the Early Attachment Bond Between Mother and Infant

In my prior blog articles about attachment styles, I've discussed how important it is for the mother to be attuned to the infant.  When there is a lack of attunement due to an insecure attachment style, the child often grows up to have problems in his or her adult relationships.

As you might expect, mothers who have insecure attachment styles with their children (as described in my prior blog post) often grew up with mothers who also had insecure attachment styles, including avoidant, ambivalent, disorganized and reactive attachment styles.

Mothers Who Have An Insecure Attachment Style With Their Infants Often Had the Same Experience When They Were Infants

Here are some of the major causes of an insecure attachment style:
  • physical, emotional or sexual abuse
  • physical and/or emotional neglect
  • separation from a primary caregiver (illness, foster care, adoption, death, divorce)
  • inconsistent caregiving
  • frequent upheaval (moves or other major changes that create chaos)
  • maternal depression
  • maternal addiction to alcohol or drugs
  • young or inexperienced mothers
  • other traumatic experiences
This list is by no means exhaustive, but these are some of the major causes.

Often, these situations can occur through no fault of the mother.  For instance, a mother might become physically sick or depressed and might require inpatient treatment, which necessitates that she is away from her infant for a substantial amount of time.

Another example, which is common, is a circumstance where a mother cannot afford to raise the infant or her life isn't stable enough to raise a baby, so she might send her child to live with relatives.  Since she is concerned about the baby's physical well being, she might have no choice but to send her child away.  However, in doing so, there would be a disruption in the bonding process between mother and child that is usually detrimental.

Children Can Have Emotionally Reparative Experiences That Help to Mitigate the Early Bonding Disruption
Despite this, many children have emotionally reparative experiences with loving relatives, even if they are separated from their mother.  Depending upon the child, these loving, nurturing experiences can help to mitigate the disruption in the mother-child bond.

In my next blog article, I will discuss why it's important to be aware of the significant impact of the early mother-child attachment bond.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works 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:  josephineolivia@aol.com




photo credit: LadyDragonflyCC - >;< - Spring in Michigan! via photopin cc

photo credit: caterina.appia via photopin cc







Thursday, June 20, 2013

How the Early Attachment Bond Affects Relationships - Part 2: Insecure Attachment Styles

In my prior blog article,  How the Early Attachment Bond Affects Adult Relationships - Part 1, I introduced the attachment theory and the concept that early bonding attachment is very important in terms of its affect on adult relationships.   In this blog article, I will introduce the various attachment styles that mothers (or caregivers) can have, and describe the affect it has when children grow up on their relationships.


How the Early Attachment Bond Affects Relationships
While there are no absolutes and there are certainly exceptions, according to attachment theory, the mother's attachment style, in terms of how she relates to her child, is one of the most important factors with regard to how the child will form relationships eventually when the child grows up.

Secure Attachment Style
As I mentioned in my prior article, when early bonding goes well, it bodes well for future adult relationships.  When the infant's mother is attuned to the baby's emotional needs, it is much more likely that when this infant grows up, s/he will be able to have healthy and meaningful adult relationships.  The optimal style of attachment in these cases is called a secure attachment.  As I mentioned before, the mother doesn't need to be "perfect."  She just needs to be good enough.

The Secure Attachment Style:  When Early Bonding Goes Well

When the Mother/Primary Caregiver Has Problems Forming a Bond With the Infant
Unfortunately, not all mothers can provide the optimal style of attachment to their infants.  In addition to the secure attachment style, there are four other categories, which are generally categorized as insecure attachment styles, in addition to the secure attachment style:

Insecure Attachment Styles
  • Avoidant Attachment Style
  • Ambivalent Attachment Style
  • Disorganized Attachment Style
  • Reactive Attachment Style
These attachment styles will be described here as if they are discrete styles to simplify these discussions.  However, keep in mind that it's really not that simple and that there can be variations or combinations of styles.

Let's take a look at the four insecure attachment styles.

Avoidant Attachment Style
Generally speaking, as the name implies the mother who has an avoidant attachment style tends to be unavailable or rejecting of the infant, which will often result in the child growing up to be an adult who avoids closeness.  Often, this person grows up to be an adult who is emotionally distant, critical, rigid and intolerant.

Ambivalent Attachment Style
The mother who has an ambivalent attachment style tends to be inconsistent with the infant.  Sometimes, this mother can be intrusive.  The adult who was raised by a mother with an ambivalent attachment style is often anxious and insecure.  He or she might be controlling, critical and erratic.

Disorganized Attachment Style
The mother who has a disorganized attachment style tends to ignore the child's needs.  Often, the mother doesn't understand or even see what the child's needs are.  The mother's behavior can be frightening and traumatizing at times.  The adult who was raised with a mother who had a disorganized attachment style often grows up be chaotic and insensitive.  S/he can be explosive, abusive and mistrustful of others.

Reactive Attachment Style
The mother who has a reactive attachment style is very detached or unable to function with the child. The adult who grew up with a mother who had a reactive attachment style often has a great deal of difficulty forming positive relationships.

In a future blog post, I'll describe the causes of insecure attachment.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works 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:  josephineolivia@aol.com















Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How the Early Attachment Bond Affects Adult Relationships: Part 1

Most infants are born with the ability to bond with their primary caregivers, usually their mothers.  Your early experience of bonding with your mother shapes how you will relate in your future relationships as an adult.  I discussed the importance of early bonding in a prior blog article: Mother-Daughter Relationships: Early Bonding.

The Mother-Infant Bond
The infant's relationship with his or her mother is the first emotional relationship.  Under optimal circumstances, if the mother provides the infant with a loving, secure emotional environment, the infant becomes "securely attached" to the mother, and this becomes the basis for future relationships as an adult.  (From here on, it's understood that when I say "mother," I'm referring to the child's primary caregiver.)

How Early Attachment Bonds Affect Adult Relationships: Mother-Infant Bond 
Attachment Theory
The British psychiatrist John Bowlby and the American psychologist Mary Ainsworfth developed the attachment bond theory.  The attachment bond theory indicates that the relationship between an infants and mothers is responsible for:
  • influencing all future relationships
  • developing the ability to be aware of our own feelings as well as empathizing with other people's feelings
  • developing the ability to be resilient in the face of adversity
An early secure attachment bond allows an adult to:
  • manage stress
  • develop meaningful relationships with other people
  • feel safe
  • develop a sense of optimism
  • develop the ability to be flexible
  • feel secure
Mothers don't need to be "perfect" for infants to form secure emotional attachments.  They just need to be good enough.

In future blog articles, I'll go into more details about how the early attachment bond affects adult relationships, and how different parental styles with infants can result in different adult characteristics.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works 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 send me an email:  josephineolivia@aol.com





Monday, June 17, 2013

Holding Onto Anger is Like Drinking Poison and Expecting the Other Person to Die

Anger is a common emotional response, especially when someone close to us says or does something that is hurtful.  


Holding Onto Anger is Like Drinking Poison and Expecting the Other Person to Die

But anger becomes toxic when we hold onto it and refuse to let it go.  We keep the anger alive by going over and over in our minds whatever grievance we have with a particular person, and this becomes an emotionally and sometimes physically toxic experience.

There is much wisdom in the Buddhist saying, "Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die."

Holding Onto Anger is Like Drinking Poison and Expecting the Other Person to Die

Holding onto anger is mostly hurtful to ourselves.  It can sour our outlook on life as well as current and future relationships.

Letting Go of Anger is a Process
Letting go of anger is a process.  It's important to acknowledge the anger rather than sweeping it under the rug.  But, beyond this initial stage, it's important to work through the anger so that it doesn't  ruin our emotional well being and our relationships.

Letting Go of Anger is a Process

Sometimes people hold onto anger because they're afraid to deal with their underlying hurt feelings.  Feeling angry, as opposed to feeling hurt, gives the illusion of feeling empowered.  But, in many ways, holding onto anger is disempowering.  It takes a lot of energy to keep churning anger, and it takes away from other positive areas in our lives.

Letting Go of Anger and Forgiving Isn't the Same as Forgetting
Whether or not you forgive the person who offended you is up to you.  As I've said many times in other blog articles, forgiveness doesn't mean that you're saying whatever happened was all right.  It means that you've made a decision to let go of the hurt and anger you feel when you're ready to do so.   It also means you're ready to move on, whether you decide to keep this person in your life or not.

When you forgive someone, it doesn't mean that you necessarily forget what happened, especially if whatever caused you to feel hurt or angry is part of an ongoing pattern with this person.  It also doesn't mean that you remain in an unhealthy relationship.  But remembering and keeping yourself out of harm's way doesn't mean you have to hold onto the negative emotions.

When holding onto anger becomes habitual, it can make you feel bitter about your life.  Collecting grievances and holding onto them puts an emotional barrier between you and others.  For many people, this is a way to shield themselves from getting hurt again.  But using this defense mechanism comes at a big emotional and sometimes physical cost.

If you find yourself holding onto anger, you can ask yourself the following questions:
  • What purpose does it serve to hold onto this anger?
  • How is holding onto this anger affecting you on an emotional, physical and spiritual level?
  • How is holding onto this anger affecting the important relationships in your life?
  • Are you less available to others because of the anger that you're holding onto?
  • How is holding onto anger affecting your outlook on life and your future?
  • How is holding onto anger keeping you from being more present in your life?
  • How else is holding onto anger keeping you stuck?
Letting Go of Anger
Making a decision to let go of anger is usually the first step in the letting go process.  If your anger is related to a particularly big betrayal, you can usually expect that the letting go process will take some time.

The important thing to remember is that when you let go of anger, you're doing it mostly for yourself--not necessarily the person that you're angry with.  You're making a conscious decision to move on emotionally so that you're no longer stuck in this negative state.

How to Let Go of Anger

Journal Writing
Many people find it especially helpful to keep a private journal and write down their feelings.  By putting your feelings down on paper, you're getting them out of your head and into the light of day.

Writing down your feelings often helps you to understand.  You could have important insights about yourself as well as the other person.

Overcoming Problems With Anger

Talking It Out With a Trusted Loved One
It's important to have a strong emotional support system.  By talking it out with a trusted friend or family member, you might get a different perspective.  It also helps to relieve the stress of pent up anger by talking it out.

Seeking Professional Help From a Licensed Therapist
Depending upon what you're angry about, talking to a friend or family member might not be enough, especially if you're dealing with a particularly difficult act of betrayal by someone close to you.  In those instances, it's often helpful to seek the help of a licensed psychotherapist who is impartial and who has expertise in helping clients to let go of anger and resentment.

Getting Help
If you know that letting go of anger has been difficult for you and it has had serious repercussions for you as well as your loved ones, rather than continuing to do what hasn't worked for you all along, you  could benefit from getting professional help so that you can live a more fulfilling life.


Getting Help

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

I have helped many clients to let go of the anger and hurt that keep them stuck in their 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 or send me an email: josephineolivia@aol.com



Sunday, June 16, 2013

Deciding Whether or Not to Reconcile With Your Father

I've seen it happen so many times among friends, family and with clients in my psychotherapy private practice in NYC:  A relationship with a father or mother, which had been fraught with problems for many years, is reconciled in later years.  

Some of these changes represent a reconciliation of sorts of a problematic lifelong parent-child relationship.

This often involves a recognition that time is passing and there might not be a chance in the future. At times, the change can be dramatic.

Deciding Whether or Not to Reconcile With Your Father

There's an article in today's New York Times Modern Love section by Heather Sellers, Do Not Adjust Your Screen or Sound - NY Times 6/16/13 that describes this type of reconciliation between a father and a daughter as the father approached the end of his life.

Of course, there's no guarantee that a problematic parent-child relationship will change, but I've seen it happen often enough and in relationships where no one would ever expect it to happen to know that these reconciliations aren't just isolated incidents.

Since this is Father's Day, I'll focus on relationships with fathers, but I've seen these type of changes occur in relationships with mothers as well.

The following fictionalized case, which is a composite of many different cases, is an example of how the adult child-parent relationship can change after many years:

John
John was the youngest of five children.  His father, Jim, left John, John's mother, and four siblings when John was 10 years old.

When Jim loved with the family, his mood was dependent upon his luck at the race track.   When he won, Jim was on top of the world.  He came home in a jolly mood with gifts for everyone.  John loved those times the best.  Jim would take the family out to the amusement park, to dinner, and or on a  weekend get away.

But when he lost at the race track, which happened more often than not, Jim came home irritable and despondent.  During those times, Jim was unapproachable.  He holed up in the den and isolated himself from his family.

As a young child, John loved his father very much, but everyday John felt leery about seeing his father because he never knew what type of mood his father would be in.  He would pray for his father to win so his father would be happy and loving towards John.

But, more times than not, John felt that his prayers went unanswered, and he wondered if he was doing something wrong:  Maybe he wasn't praying enough?  Maybe he wasn't being good enough and God was ignoring him?  This created a lot of anxiety in John as he tried harder by praying more and being extra good.  But nothing changed.

Jim's compulsive gambling often left the family unable to pay the rent, buy food or take care of basic expenses.  Jim also couldn't hold onto a job for more than a few months before he was fired for not showing up.  Instead of going to work, Jim was at the race track betting on horses he thought would be "a sure thing."

When John was nine years old, his mother, Ann, took a job in the local factory to help make ends meet.    This meant that when John and his siblings came home from school, they had to fend for themselves.

John's older sister, Maddie, would start dinner and help John with his homework.  John could detect how much his sister, who was only 14, resented these responsibilities and longed to be out having fun with her friends.

Then, one day, Jim went to the race track and never came back.  John's mother, Ann, called everyone she knew who might know where Jim might have gone.  But no one had heard from him.  She drove around the neighborhood, going to Jim's usual haunts, including the neighborhood bar, but she couldn't find him.

By the next day, Ann filed a police report with the local precinct and she kept calling Jim's friends and families.  But there was no word.

The family was devastated emotionally and financially.  John knew how upset his mother and siblings were, so he kept his feelings to himself.  He didn't want to add to their concerns by showing how upset  he felt.  He just prayed harder and vowed to be the best son that he could be so his father would come back.

Years passed, and no one ever heard from Jim.  His disappearance remained a mystery.  With each passing year, John and his family gradually gave up hope of ever hearing from Jim again.  The family got by on a combination of his mother's meager wages and her family's financial help.

As they got older, each of John's siblings left their home town to take jobs in other cities since their home town offered little in the way of employment.  So, John was the last child at home.

By that time, Ann's father left her enough money to get by and to send John to college.  John wanted to leave his small town and go to college, but he was worried about leaving his mother by herself.  He knew she would be lonely living by herself, but she urged him to leave home and go to college so he would have a better future.

Fast forward 30 years:  Life went on.  John was happily married and living in NYC with his wife, and his daughter and son were away at college.  Ann had died several years before.  From time to time, John thought about his father, especially on Father's Day or on his father's birthday, but he had long ago gave up any hope of seeing his father again.

Then, one day, out of the blue, John received a phone call his older sister, Maddie:  She got a call from their father, who was living in Florida.  At first, she thought it was someone's idea of a heartless prank, but their father assured her that it was him.

When he called her by her childhood nickname, Maddie said, she knew it was him.  He told her that he had pancreatic cancer and he was coming back to NYC to attend treatment at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  Maddie said she wished him well, but she wanted nothing to do with him.  Then, she hung up on him.

Maddie knew that John missed their father, so she gave him the father's telephone number, in case he wanted to talk to him. She told him that, even though she and the other siblings wanted nothing to do with their father, she knew John might feel differently.

John was so shocked that he felt like he was in a dream.  He didn't know what to say, but he felt, once again, that deep longing that he felt when he was a child to see his father.

Soon after that, John began therapy to process his mixed emotions of shock, sadness, and anger.  In situations like this, there's no right or wrong.  Each adult child has to make his or her own decision, and what's right for one sibling might not be right for another.

After much going back and forth, John called his father.  That first conversation was very awkward.  John hardly knew what to say to his father and he felt like he was going to burst out into tears at any second.  He told his father about his life with his wife and children.  His father listened and seemed to be genuinely happy for John.

When John saw his father for the first time in 30 years, his father was receiving treatment at Sloan Kettering.  He looked much older, but Jim still had the same old smile.  At first, they could barely look into each other's eyes, and there were awkward silences.

Then, Jim broached the topic that was on both of their minds:  He told John that he left the family because he was so ashamed that he gambled away the family's meager savings on a horse.  This was something that Ann had never revealed to John and his siblings, so John was completely unaware of this.

As he listened to his father express his shame and regret, John could only imagine how betrayed his mother must have felt.  But he shifted his thoughts to his father and forced himself to stay present.  He knew that it would be only a matter of time for his father because the cancer was already at an advanced stage.

During the next several weeks, John went to the hospital and processed his feelings afterwards in our therapy sessions.  He felt tremendous grief for all the wasted years.  He also regretted that he never tried to locate his father.

John and his father reconciled their relationship as best as they could in the time that they had left.  John's wife and children also came to the hospital, and Jim told John that he was proud of him, which made John feel both happy and sad.

On the day Jim died, John was holding his hand and talking to him about a particularly happy day when Jim took the family on an outing.

John Reminded His Father of a Particularly Happy Day When John Was a Child

Jim was heavily medicated, so John wasn't sure that Jim could hear him, but he thought his father suddenly look peaceful and calm.  And then he was gone.

John was, understandably, sad after his father died, but he was glad that, at least, they had reconciled their relationship to a certain extent before Jim died.  John continued in therapy to deal with the permanent loss of his father.

Reconciling Your Relationship With Your Father
When you're going through a very difficult time with your father, it's often hard to imagine that you and your father could ever reconcile.  But, as I mentioned earlier, this turn of events occurs in many families.

In order to reconcile, it has to be acceptable to both the adult child and the father.  The adult child also needs to be realistic about what to expect.

Reconciliation and Forgiveness
Reconciliation can occur on many levels.  You and your father might not be able to work out all the earlier problems, but you might be able to work out some form of reconciliation, even if it's not perfect. It might be good enough for you and for him.

Forgiveness is a process that often works from surface to depth.  It often begins with your decision that you want to let go of the painful feelings so you can heal.

Even if you can't reconcile with your father because it's not right for you or for him or he's not around any more, if it's right for you, you can work through your anger and resentment so that it's no longer eating away at you.

Letting Go of Resentment So You Can Heal Emotionally
Letting to of resentment doesn't mean that whatever happened was okay.  It means that you no longer want to harbor the negative feelings which can be so emotionally toxic for you.

Letting Go of Resentment So You Can Heal Emotionally

Getting Help
This is often something that's hard to do on your own, and many people find it helpful to work with a licensed psychotherapist to work through these issues.

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

I have helped many clients to let go of resentment that they've felt for their parents, in some cases, for many years.  

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 send me an email: josephineolivia@aol.com.

Also, see my articles:

Fathers and Son: Improving Your Relationship With Your Dad

Fathers and Daughters: Daddy's "Little Girl" Is All Grown Up Now

Discovering a Father's Secret Life After His Death

Trying to Understand Your Father

Looking Back on Your Relationship With Your Dad Now That You're a Father


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photo credit: AlicePopkorn via photopin cc




































Saturday, June 15, 2013

Living a Double Life: Part 2: The Secrets and Lies of Infidelity

In my prior blog post, Leading a Double Life: Part 1: The Private Self and Public Self , I introduced the topic of leading a double life.  I gave examples from the common phenomenon of having a private self, which is a normal part of life and isn't about leading a double life, to leading the life of a sociopath, which often involves living a double life filled with secrets and deception.  In today's article, I'll focus on a particular aspect one of leading a double life, infidelity.


Leading a Double Life - Part 2: The Secrets and Lies of Infidelity

I've discussed infidelity in prior blog articles, including:

Infidelity - Married, Bored and Cheating in Sex Chat Rooms
Infidelity: Your Spouse Cheated on You - Should You Stay or Go?
Relationships: Coping With Infidelity
Infidelity: Cheating on Your Husband Even Though You're "Not the Type"
Infidelity: Learning to Trust Again After the Affair
Relationships: Are You Having an Emotional Affair?

Leading a Double Life in An Affair is Fraught With Problems
Leading a double life, in a primary relationship while having an affair, is fraught with possible serious emotional consequences for everyone involved.

Leading a Double Life Involving Infidelity is Fraught With Problems

Most clients that I have worked with who are having affairs are fearful of getting caught.  In most cases, they don't want to hurt their spouse or partner, family or the person they are having an affair with, so they go to great lengths to keep the affair secret and indulge in lies to keep it under cover.

Most people admit that they are aware that if they were caught, they know their spouse or partner would end their relationship.  And even if the spouse doesn't leave, these people are usually aware that it would be a long road back to establish trust again, if it can be reestablished.

But often even this awareness isn't enough to have them give up the affair.  Many of them will acknowledge that they're being selfish by having the affair--wanting to keep their marriage and also have someone else on the side.

The Risk of Getting Caught and the Dopamine Rush
Other people find the secrets and lies exciting.  The thought of getting caught makes the affair even more tantalizing and fun.  Getting away with these secrets and lies makes the affair more risky but also gives them a kind of emotional rush.

This emotional rush has been described to me as similar to a cocaine rush, the rush of placing a bet for people with gambling problems, and so on.

The dopamine rush itself can become a powerful reinforcer of this behavior as they look to keep getting this "high."

If they're honest about it, many people who get a rush admit that if they had their choice, they would be able to keep getting away with the affair and not get caught.

Secrets, Lies and Compartmentalization
Infidelity comes in many forms.  There's everything from the one-time affair that was alcohol fueled at an out of town conference to a 25 year affair.

Keeping an ongoing affair secret usually involves a fair amount of deception.

Most people who have talked to me about having an ongoing affair have told me that, over time, just like other forms of lying, telling lies related to infidelity gets easier in a sense--at least on the surface.

Of course, the experience will be different for everyone.  But many clients have said that, whereas they were very scared the first time they lied to a spouse, after a few times, they found themselves doing it with more ease once they realized that they could get away with it.

This doesn't mean that they felt good about themselves or that they had a clear conscience about it.  Most of the time, for people who aren't sociopathic, it involves leading a compartmentalized life.

Compartmentalization, as the term implies, allows people to keep the different parts of their lives in different "boxes" or compartments, so to speak.  So, for instance, they would keep their primary relationship and their affair in different compartments in their minds.

The purpose of this type of compartmentalization is to ease whatever guilt, shame or discomfort related to the affair.  Often, it also keeps them from being fully aware, in a more conscious way, of the emotional consequences for everyone involved if the spouse or primary partner finds out about it.

Getting Caught Cheating: Worlds Collide
Keeping an affair secret is much more difficult today than it was in the past before cellphone records and text messages.  There are so many ways that someone having an affair can be found out.

Since the compartmentalization often keeps people from feeling discomfort and from being fully aware of just how emotionally risky their behavior is, getting caught is usually much more emotionally devastating than they anticipated.

Once you're caught having an affair, compartmentalization no longer works as worlds collide.  At that point, you have to deal with the full impact of your behavior and the consequences.

Getting Help
Individuals and couples who are affected by infidelity often need professional help to get through the emotional crisis that arises when a secret affair is discovered.

When infidelity is first discovered, during the period of the initial shock, couples often don't know whether they will stay together or break up.

Whether or not you decide to stay in your primary relationship or not, the emotional aftermath of an affair is filled with hurt and anger.

Rather than trying to get through this on your own, a licensed psychotherapist, who has experience helping clients overcome the pain of infidelity, can help you navigate through this difficult time, whatever you decide to do about your relationship ultimately.

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

I have helped many individuals and couples who were dealing with issues related to infidelity.

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: josephineolivia@aol.com



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Monday, June 3, 2013

Living a Double Life - Part 1: The Public Self and Private Self

What does it mean to live a double life?  In this blog article, I'll explore what it means to have a public self and a private self as well as personal fantasies, which are common to most people.   In a future article, I'll compare this common behavior to the concept of living a double life.


The Public Self and the Private Self
Let's start by exploring a common phenomenon:  The public and the private self.  On the most basic level, everyone has a public and a private self.  

The public self is the self that, as the term implies. we show to the world.  We usually show different aspects of this public self, depending upon the context.


The Public Self

So, for instance, we might present ourselves at work in a different light than we present ourselves when we socialize with friends or loved ones or when we're relaxing at home.

At work, we might be more formal, depending upon the setting, as opposed to when we're relaxed and informal with loved ones.  With loved ones, we usually allow more private aspects of ourselves to reveal themselves.  And we're usually different with the various people in our lives.  For instance, people usually allow themselves to be more emotionally vulnerable with a spouse or romantic partner than with a casual friend.

The Private Self

Like anything else, the different aspects of self are on a continuum.  Generally speaking, there's nothing unusual about having these different aspects of self, unless there's a big disconnect with these aspects, which I'll discuss in a future blog article.

Fantasies of the Private Self
Aside from how we are in terms of the public and private self, we all have personal fantasies, many of which we keep to ourselves, possibly not even revealing them to those closest to us.

There are all kinds of fantasies, including sexual fantasies, fantasies of being successful, fantasies of being a hero, and so on.  

Fantasies of the Private Self
Fantasies are common and they're usually forward looking.

When a fantasy is positive and forward looking, it can provide the beginning of a new idea.  It can be the beginning of a new creative endeavor by allowing oneself to "think outside the box" or to come up with creative solutions to problems, a new invention, artwork, and so on.

Of course, in order for the fantasy to come to fruition, the fantasy can't just remain in someone's head--some action needs to be taken.

Living a Double Life 
So far, what I've described are common aspects of everyday life, not what would be described as "living a double life" in the usual sense of the term.  These common aspects of self, the public and private selves and inner fantasies are usually part of a more or less integrated personality and an integrated life.

When we use the term "living a double life," we're usually referring to someone who lives a compartmentalized life with very different aspects of him or herself  hidden away from most people. This is in contrast to what we've been exploring so far, the person who has a more integrated life.  The person who is living a double life often has a secret part of his or her life.  It's not unusual for the secret part of his or her life to be hidden away from even loved ones.

Leading a Double Life That is Harmful to Yourself and Others
Aside from secrecy, there's often some form of deception involved.  Like anything else, leading a double life can be viewed on a continuum from moderate to severe.

Leading a double life could involve anything from cheating on a spouse to, on the more extreme level, sociopathic behavior.

The most severe form of leading a double life would involve sociopathic behavior that can be harmful to oneself as well as others.

Examples of Living a Double Life That Are Harmful Would Be:
  • Engaging in infidelity
  • Having a second family that the spouse and family in the primary family know nothing about
  • Having a separate, secret identity (like the main character in "Mad Men," Don Draper)
  • Engaging in money laundering
  • Engaging in White collar crime
  • Engaging in a Ponzi scheme
  • Other attempts to defraud others
And so on...

I've written a prior blog article about a book that describes sociopathic and near sociopathic behavior, Book: Almost a Sociopath, so in a future blog article, I'll focus on the more common types of living a double life on the less extreme end of the spectrum.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works 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: josephineolivia@aol.com

See:  Living a Double Life - Part 2: Secrets and Lies of Infidelity

Also see my newspaper:  Psychotherapy Daily News


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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Your Daydreams Can Be a Source of Inspiration and Motivation

As children, many of us were warned by the adults in our lives to "Stop daydreaming." Maybe we were in our own fantasy world, using our imagination to create new worlds with fantastic people, plants or animals. Or, maybe we were imagining ourselves as flying to another planet or being celebrated for making a new discovery.

Over time, we might have come to think of daydreaming as being a waste of time. But our daydreams can offer us many opportunities for new and creative ideas as well as new ways of seeing ourselves and the world.

Your Daydreams Can Be a Source of Inspiration
What is a daydream?
A daydream is often a pleasant fantasy from our unconscious that we have when we're awake and our minds wander off. Daydreams are usually about our hopes, wishes and aspirations. Usually, we don't direct our daydreams. They just come, if we allow them and if we take the time to pay attention to them.

Research Studies Reveal That We Spend a Lot of Time Daydreaming
Recent studies have revealed that, whether we realize it or not, we spend a significant amount of time daydreaming each day--up to a third of our day. Scientists have also discovered that daydreaming serves an important function with regard to problem solving, as our unconscious minds come up with new ways to look at situations.

Creative Writers and Daydreaming
Our unconscious minds can come up with so many more ideas than our conscious minds. For instance, many writers have said that when they felt blocked and unable to write, if they took a break from their writing and allowed themselves time to just let their minds wander, often they suddenly come up with new ideas.

Freud wrote about this phenomenon in "Creative Writers and Daydreaming."

How We Can Use Our Daydreams
Instead of thinking of daydreams as a waste of time, we can begin to think of them as a powerful, creative and rich source of information and inspiration. We can begin to pay attention to our daydreams to find out what they're telling us about our wishes, hopes and aspirations. Are we having particular daydreams about a new idea, a song, a story, a new career, a new image of ourselves?

We can begin to write down our daydreams and look for recurring themes. Maybe we can use some of our pleasant daydreams to bring new and creative ideas into fruition. And why not? We have this wonderful source--why not use it, and have fun with it? Learn to be more playful, enjoy your daydreams and let your imagination soar.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works 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 send an email: josephineolivia@aol.com

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Psychotherapy: Creative Solutions to Problems Using the Mind-Body Connection in Therapy

The topic that I've been focusing on lately is "Learning to Stay Calm During Uncertain Times."  My prior blog articles were Learning to Stay Calm During Uncertain Times - Part 1, where I discussed that stress and anxiety are common responses to uncertain times, and Learning to Stay Calm During Uncertain Times - Part 2: Self Help Tips.  In today's article, I will discuss how I help psychotherapy clients, who are dealing with stress and uncertainty, come up with creative solutions to their problems with mind-body psychotherapy in my private practice in NYC.

EMDR, Clinical Hypnosis and Somatic Experiencing
Aside from talk therapy, I use EMDR, clinical hypnosis, and Somatic Experiencing with clients who come to see me in my psychotherapy private practice.  All of these treatment modalities are considered mind-body oriented psychotherapy because they stress the mind-body connection.

Uncertain Times Can Make You Feel Anxious and Overwhelmed With Stress

When people are anxious and overwhelmed with stress, they often lose touch with what's going on in their bodies.  A disconnect between mind and body can lead to further anxiety and stress.  So, rather than just talking about the problem in a purely intellectual way in therapy, EMDR, clinical hypnosis and Somatic Experiencing all allow for more of an integrated, holistic experience.

There are many ways, too many to describe in one blog article, to use these three treatment modalities.  I'll describe one way that I combine clinical hypnosis (also known as hypnotherapy) with Somatic Experiencing to help clients when they're experiencing anxiety and feel stuck in a particular problem.

Clinical Hypnosis and Somatic Experiencing: Hypnoprojectives
One way to help clients who are feeling anxious and stuck in a particular problem is to use what are known as hypnoprojectives in clinical hypnosis.  I usually combine hypnoprojectives with Somatic Experiencing.

Here's a fictionalized example:
Jane has been feeling very anxious because there's a lot of change and uncertainty in her career.  She's an intelligent and creative person under normal circumstances, but her anxiety is so great that she feels too emotionally paralyzed to come up with ideas on what to do about certain career decisions she is facing.

After I help Jane to get into a relaxed state with a hypnosis induction, I help her to experience herself as if she's in a movie theatre waiting for the movie to begin.  As she's waiting for the movie to start, I help her to feel herself in her body as well as enjoy the experience of sitting in a comfortable seat with lots of room around her.  Everything about the experience in the theatre is just right.  Not only is it physically relaxing, but the theatre itself is beautiful.

Jane can see that the lights are starting to dim in the theatre, and the movie is about to start.  As she begins to watch the movie, she realizes that this is a movie where the main character is someone just like her who is struggling with the same issues in her career.

Using her imagination with the help of clinical hypnosis, Jane will watch the protagonist in this movie come up with creative solutions and realize that there's a message for her in this film that would help resolve her problems.

In ordinary reality, a movie is about an hour and a half to two hours long.  But the experience of watching a movie in a hypnotic state can take as little as a few minutes because what's actually happening is that your unconscious mind is coming up with the material for the movie as well as the creative solutions to the problem, and the unconscious mind can do this quickly with the aid of clinical hypnosis.  The unconscious doesn't need a lot of time.  You just need a way to get into a relaxed state, which hypnosis provides, to get greater access to the unconscious.

Getting back to Jane:  She's able to access her unconscious mind and creative solutions because experiencing the movie in a hypnotic state allows her to step outside of her own experience where she was feeling stuck.

Seeing and hearing someone else, who is very much like her with similar problems, helps to open her up to her own creativity, which was there all along but was not accessible  to her in her ordinary state of awareness due to her anxiety.

At that point, I would help Jane to "anchor" whatever felt right to her in her body.  In other words, the anchoring process is where Jane would imagine, while she's in the hypnotic state, that she's placing whatever was valuable to her in this experience somewhere in her body so that she'll remember it when she's no longer in the hypnotic state.

Later on, when Jane is out of the hypnotic state, and she and I are talking about what she learned, she will have access to the experience she anchored in her body and be able to use this experience in a practical way in her everyday life.

Mind-Body Oriented Psychotherapy Can Help You Tap Into Your Creative Abilities

People are often amazed at the creative solutions that they come up with during a hynoprojective.  One of the things that I like best about this particular technique, of the many mind-body oriented methods that I use, is that, rather than deriving a solution to their problems from outside of themselves, they're tapping into their own creative abilities with the aid of hypnosis and Somatic Experiencing.

As I mentioned, this is just one of many ways that the mind-body oriented psychotherapy is different from regular talk therapy.  When clients can get calm enough to tap into their own creativity, they often get a lot further than just trying to think about their problems.  This creative ability is already a part of them, but stress and self doubt often keep people from accessing it.

Getting Help
Times of uncertainity are a normal part of life.  If you find yourself feeling anxious and unable to access your creative abilities to work through your problems, rather than struggling on your own, you could benefit from seeing a psychotherapist who uses a mind-body oriented approach in therapy.  I've included the professional websites for EMDR, clinical hypnosis and Somatic Experiencing, which include directories for therapists who work in this way.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works 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 send me an email: josephineolivia@aol.com

Resources:
EMDR International Association
American Society of Clinical Hypnosis
Somatic Experiencing Training Institute