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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:

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

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