NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Healing Your Emotional Wounds in Therapy

Emotional wounds are a source of shame for many people. Often, rather than getting help, their initial inclination is to either suppress or deny these emotional wounds in an effort to rid themselves of the emotional pain. But when we deny or suppress emotional wounds, the result is that they intensify.

Healing Your Emotional Wounds in Therapy

When we're physically hurt, we usually don't think about getting rid of the body part that is injured. So, for instance, we wouldn't think of cutting off an arm that was bruised or burnt. We know that, in most cases, there needs to be special care and attention for the arm to heal.

But when it comes to emotional wounds, many people are much more impatient and rejecting of help than they would be for a physical wound. They either don't know or they don't want to know that, often, these emotional wounds have been around for a long time and, no matter how much they might want to banish them, they'll still be there unless they get special attention and care, much the same as a physical wound.

We know that if we have a physical wound and we don't take care of it, it will get worse. Lack of care can create severe or life threatening consequences. In much the same way, emotional wounds can also become worse and, in some cases, become life threatening if a person is very depressed or anxious.

We have choices as to how we relate to our emotional wounds. We can deny, suppress or ignore them, all of which tends to make them worse. Or, we can look upon them with compassion and see them for what they usually are--early childhood aspects of ourselves that either suffered from abuse or neglect and that need professional psychological help.

When we neglect these emotionally wounded aspects of ourselves, we are, unconsciously, perpetuating the original trauma. Not only can we perpetuate it in ourselves, but we can also have a profound traumatic effect on our loved ones. It's not unusual to see transgenerational trauma that is passed down from one generation to the next, unintentionally, because the original trauma remains unhealed.

Making the Unconscious Conscious:
As I mentioned, when we retraumatize ourselves or we pass on the effects of our trauma onto others, this is an unconscious process. So, if it's unconscious, how can we become more aware of it so that we can make the unconscious conscious?

Often, if you observe your thoughts and attitudes towards yourself, you can begin to see where you're being overly critical, judgmental and harsh with yourself. For many people who practice mindfulness meditation, they become aware of their punitive thoughts and attitudes towards themselves and also become aware that they need to develop more self compassion. They begin to see how they're being overly critical of themselves and engaging in negative self talk.

Even if you don't practice mindfulness meditation and you take the time to observe your internal dialogue, you can see if you're being too hard on yourself and you ask yourself where this harshness originates from. Very often, it originates from early trauma that created emotional wounds.

Many people become aware of their own harshness towards themselves when their friends or loved ones observe it and comment on it. These same people, who are being so harsh on themselves, would almost never be as harsh on someone else in similar circumstances. They often reserve their most punishing attitudes towards themselves because this is what they have internalized, in most cases, when they were growing up.

For most people, they learn to make the unconscious conscious in psychotherapy where the psychotherapist has a psychodynamic orientation as part of the treatment modalities he or she uses with clients, and can help clients to heal from their trauma.

Self Compassion for Your Emotional Wounds:
If you think of the emotional wound as an aspect of your inner child, you'll probably have more compassion for that part of yourself. This could be the start of your being more open and willing to seek help to heal.

Getting Help in Therapy 
Taking the first step is often the hardest. When you're mired in hurt and shame, you might feel that you're the only one who is experiencing this. 

But you're not alone. Once you've become aware that your emotional wounds are having a detrimental effect on your life, the next step is accepting this and taking action to find a professional mental health practitioner who specializes in trauma because the healing work that needs to be done cannot be done by you alone.

Rather than spending the rest of your life adversely affected by your trauma, you could benefit from working through these issues with a licensed psychotherapist who has expertise in this area.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, Somatic Experiencing therapist, and EMDR therapist.

I work with individuals and couples.

I use a variety of treatment modalities, including mind-body oriented psychotherapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and cognitive behavioral treatment, depending upon the needs of the client.

I have helped many people overcome their emotional wounds so that they can 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 (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.

Also see my article:  Psychotherapy and Transgenerational Trauma