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Monday, September 15, 2014

Psychotherapy Blog: Overcoming Emotional Blocks in Therapy

In my prior article, Working on Emotional Blocks in Therapy, I began a discussion about identifying emotional blocks.  In this article, I'll discuss how you can overcome emotional blocks in therapy.

Overcoming Emotional Blocks in Therapy

As I mentioned in my previous article, emotional blocks can be readily apparent, as when a client says, "I don't feel I deserve anything good" or they can be unconscious.

When they're unconscious, they usually take more time to come to the surface.

The following scenario is a composite of many cases that demonstrates one way that an emotional block can be identified and worked through in therapy:

Karen:
Karen was in her mid-20s.  She had seen several therapists before she came to see me to deal with unresolved trauma from her childhood that made her fearful of getting involved in romantic relationships.

In her prior therapies, Karen learned, on an intellectual level, that she wasn't responsible for her parents' emotional neglect of her, but this didn't make her any less afraid of the possibility of being emotionally neglected or hurt in a relationship.

Her fear of getting hurt was so great that she shied away from men who showed interest in her, even if she was attracted to them.

At the same time, she was very lonely and wished that she could overcome her fear so she could be in a relationship.

She had been in cognitive behavioral therapy before, so she understood that her fears were distortions, but that didn't change anything.

She had also been in psychodynamic therapy and understood that she had underlying unconscious feelings that were part of the problem, but she didn't know what these unconscious feelings were or what to do about them.

Overcoming Emotional Blocks in Therapy

Using clinical hypnosis, we explored her feelings about being in a relationship.

Over time, in a relaxed hypnotic state, she sensed her conflictual emotions--both her desire to be in a relationship as well as her fear.

As we continued to explore her fear using clinical hypnosis, over time, we both realized that she had an emotional block which was that she was "unlovable." Her fear was that after a potential boyfriend really got to know her well, he wouldn't care about her any more.

Despite the fact that she knew that she had close friends who really cared about her a lot, there was still a part of her that felt she was unlovable.

We continued to work with this part of her in hypnosis.

Over time, it became apparent that this was a younger part of her (many people call this part the "inner child").

This part didn't respond to the logical explanations of cognitive behavioral therapy or psychodynamic interventions because it was such a young part, possibly preverbal.

So, we worked in therapy to help this young part of Karen to develop the internal resources that she needed to nurture this part of herself.

We worked to help Karen internalize positive experiences that she had with various friends and mentors in her life on a deep level.

Prior to working this way, even though Karen experienced her friends' love for her, her feelings were fleeting and she never internalized them in a deep way.  The challenge in our work together was to help Karen to internalize these positive experiences on a deeper level.

By remembering individual positive experiences in hypnosis and making these feelings come alive for her on an emotional and physical level, over time, Karen began to have a sense of being a lovable person.

This work wasn't quick, but by enriching these memories during hypnosis, she experienced these positive experiences not only in an explicit (conscious) way--she also learned to have an embodied experience of them on an implicit (unconscious) level (see my article:  Mind-Body Psychotherapy: Healing Trauma With New Symbolic Memories).

Overcoming Emotional Blocks in Therapy

By doing this work, Karen was able to enhance the positive experiences that she had with nurturing individuals so that these memories became a bigger part of her awareness on a conscious and unconscious level, which is different from just having an intellectual understanding:  She actually felt and believed it.

Getting Help in Therapy to Overcome Emotional Blocks
Emotional blocks are common problems for many people.

They're often difficult to overcome on your own.

Rather than struggling against these blocks by yourself, you could benefit from getting professional help from a licensed mental health practitioner who can help you to overcome them.

About Me
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.



























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