NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Relationships and the Joy and Challenge of Vacations

Summertime is here, and it's the time for many people to go away on vacation. Most people look forward to going on vacation and couples often look upon it as a time to relax, rekindle their relationship, and take a break from the normal routine. But as relaxing as a vacation can be together, it can also present some challenges. With some forethought and pre-planning, some of these challenges and stressors can be avoided.

Relationships and the Joy and Challenge of Vacations

When we plan vacations with our spouses or partners, we often don't take into account that, as individuals, we respond differently outside of our normal routine. 

Even though many people complain that they feel like they're in a rut in their regular routine, that routine often provides a sense of structure and security. Without realizing it, at times, when we're outside of our regular routine and habits, it can be stressful. 

But for other people, it's an opportunity to thrive on novelty. So, if you're part of a couple where you thrive on having new experiences but your spouse likes the same-old-same-old, you could find yourself at odds with each other.

I hear many couples complain that one of them is the planner and the other one just wants to wing it. The planner might be reading travel guides a year in advance and going online to get the best travel deals, while the person who wants to wing it couldn't care less. 

Often, the complaint from the planners is that they feel like they're doing all the work while the person who isn't a planner reaps the benefits without contributing to the effort. The complaint from the people who like to wing it is that they feel badgered by the planners, and they couldn't care less to look at a travel guide until they reach their destination (if even then).

Relationships and the Joy and Challenge of Vacations

My suggestion to both types of people is to try to lighten up. Usually, the planner enjoys doing the planning and getting a sense that he or she is immersed in vacation locale long before they even arrive. 

So, for planners, enjoy the process and try not to be disappointed if your spouse isn't as enthusiastic as you are. 

For the people who like to wing it, I recommend that you show some appreciation and interest for the work that the planner is doing. You can tactfully let him or her know that while you appreciate it, it's not your thing. But I think it would be a good idea to make up for this in other ways. Maybe you take care of other aspects of the trip or you make reservations at your spouse's favorite restaurants while you're away.

You might have to deal with other compromises during your vacation, including whether you want to visit your family or your spouse's family while away, whether or not to take the children, what type of hotel you go to, and how much time to spend in different places. Be willing to negotiate and compromise.

Remember that the purpose of the vacation is to spend time together, relax and reconnect with each other romantically. So, plan on having time together to rekindle your relationship. Also, be open to being spontaneous sometimes. Sometimes, an unplanned walk off the beaten track can bring the unexpected pleasure and joy of discovering new people and places.

Another factor on vacations is that some people like to rise early and see all the sights while others view the vacation as a time to sleep later and rest. If you haven't talked about it beforehand, one or both of you might feel irritable and disappointed.

Although vacations are meant to be relaxing, they can also be stressful. Traveling by plane has become more complicated and stressful than it used to be. There are departure delays. The seating might be tight. There might be missing luggage when you get to the other end. Many people can take this in stride as a part of modern travel but, for others, it can test their patience to the breaking point.

Before you travel, it's good to know what kind of traveler you and your spouse each tend to be and talk about this and plan for it beforehand. For example, you might come to an agreement beforehand about how you'll spend your time. If you're an early bird who likes to beat the crowd to the local museums on your vacation, but your spouse would rather sleep late, rather than dragging your spouse out of bed to go somewhere where he or she doesn't want to go or arguing about it, agree in advance that each of you might want to spend the morning doing different things. You can agree to meet afterwards for a romantic seaside brunch.

If you know in advance that you each have different styles and preferences when you go on vacation and you discuss this in advance, you're more likely to enjoy your time together.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

I have helped many individuals and couples of overcome obstacles so that they could lead more fulfilling lives.

Aside from talk therapy, I also provide hypnosis, Somatic Experiencing, and EMDR therapy.

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.

Seeing Small Wonders All Around Us If We Take the Time to Notice

When I stop to notice, I'm often surprised and delighted at the small wonders that are all around us. Recently, I was crossing the street, on my way to the subway, when I noticed a mother and her small son stop to pick up something in the street.

Small Wonders Al Around Us If We Take the Time to Notice

The mother reached down and picked up what looked to me, at first, like a very pretty, orange, transparent piece of paper. But when I looked closer, I saw that it wasn't a piece of paper at all--it was a beautiful butterfly that had been lying in the middle of the street for some unknown reason.

As the mother gently picked it up by its wings and placed it carefully in the palm of her hand, the butterfly remained motionless.

Small Wonders All Around Us If We Take the Time to Notice

I feared that it had been run over by a car, and might have been dead. The little boy peered at the motionless body of the butterfly as the mother said, "Let's let it rest here" as she put it gently on a plant leaf in a nearby garden. Suddenly, the motionless butterfly came back to life, as if it had been temporarily stunned, spread her beautiful wings and flew away.

It was such a simple thing, and yet I felt my spirit lifted as I watched the butterfly revive and fly away. I felt so grateful to the woman who noticed it, picked it up, and rested it gently on the leaf until it could revive itself. It really made my day. The mother and her son were also delighted.

A few months ago, I was on my way to yoga class early on a Saturday morning when, from the corner of my eye, I noticed something floating in the air. I was passing a local Greek Eastern Orthodox church and against the background of the church's dark stone structure, I saw a beautiful, small, white, diaphanous silky strip of cloth come spiraling down in the air.

I couldn't imagine where this silky strip of cloth could have come from. Then, suddenly, I saw a sparrow fly over and, without skipping a beat, like poetry in motion, she clasped the beautiful strip in her mouth and flew up to her nearby nest that she was building.

It all happened in a matter of seconds. I stood there for a moment, delighted and grateful to watch this magical sight. Had I walked by a moment or two before or after, I would have missed it.

So often, there are small wonders all around us if we're open to seeing them.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, Somatic Experiencing therapist, and EMDR therapist in NYC.

I work with individuals and couples.

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.

Creative Imagination and Dream Work for Writers

In my prior blog post, I wrote a post entitled, "Working with Dreams to Develop Your Creative Imagination" (

Creative Imagination, Dream Incubation, and Dream Work to Overcome Creative Blocks:
In this blog post, I will focus on how creative imagination and dream work can be a source of inspiration for writers. As I've mentioned before, among the clients that I work with in my psychotherapy private practice in NYC, I work with writers, actors, musicians, composers, and other people who are in the creative arts.

Creative Imagination and Dream Work For Writers

In any creative endeavor, it's not unusual to develop a creative block that gets in the way of doing the work. Dream incubation and the subsequent dream work that is possible from incubated dreams is often very helpful for writers who are experiencing creative blocks or at an impasse in their work.

For instance, if a writer is struggling with a particular character or a scene in a story, he or she can incubate a dream to overcome this impasse. As I mentioned in prior blog posts, to incubate a dream, you can either give yourself a suggestion before going to sleep that you want to have a dream to overcome this impasse or you can work with a psychoanalytically trained psychotherapist who is trained in Embodied Imagination dream work (developed by Robert Bosnak) to help you.

When we do Embodied Imagination dream work for incubated dreams, we not only have access to our own experiences in the dream, we also have access to the experiences of the other characters in the dream.

As I've mentioned before, in Embodied Imagination dream work, we start with our own experiences, but we don't stop there. We also access the experiences of the other characters in the dream. Now, I realize that this might sound odd, but one of the basic concepts of Embodied Imagination is that we make no assumptions about where the dream is coming from or who the other characters are in the dream.

Rather than assuming that the characters are a part of ourselves, as we might in Gestalt or other types of psychotherapy, we make no assumptions. We allow the other characters to have their own "lives" in the dream. This frees us up to experience these characters from their own perspectives. Needless to say, I'm not referring to the type of hallucinations that people with schizophrenia or some other delusional or psychotic disorder might have. All I'm saying is that, for the purpose of doing the dream work, we suspend disbelief in the service of doing the creative dream work and using our imagination. For a fuller explanation of this phenomenon, I recommend that you read Robert Bosnak's book, Embodiment.

So, for example, a writer might incubate a dream about a particular character that he or she is not satisfied with in the story. The dreams that are the result of this incubation would include valuable information about the character, sometimes coming from the character's own mouth.

When we're dreaming, generally, we're in a more relaxed state than in our regular waking experience. This allows us to have access to a deeper sense of our imagination than when we're awake. In these dreams, characters and scenes "come alive" in ways that they often don't in our usual waking consciousness. And it takes no extra time since we would spend the same amount of time sleeping whether we incubated dreams or not.

I also find that, like with most things, maintaining a sense of humor helps with the creative process.

About Me
I am a licensed psychoanalytically trained psychotherapist. I am also a hypnotherapist, Somatic Experiencing therapist, and an EMDR therapist.

I work with individuals and couples, and my office is convenient located in Manhattan.

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.

Working with Dreams to Develop Your Creative Imagination

Dreams and Your Creative Imagination:
I love working with dreams, my own dreams as well as clients' and friends' dreams. Dream work provides us with a unique opportunity to access our creative imagination in ways that are often not accessible to us in the normal waking state.

Working with Dreams to Develop Your Creative Imagination

What Do We Mean by "Imagination"?
The word "imagination" has gotten a bad rap in modern times, especially for adults. Often, when we hear the words "imagined" or "imagination," it has a negative connotation. We often think of these words as meaning something that is false, as in: "It was just his imagination." 

But the word "imagination" has a much broader meaning. When we can open up to our imagination, we open ourselves to our internal world of images, ideas, emotions, and our felt sense about ourselves and the world around us. 

We use our imagination to learn new things and to understand and develop new concepts. We also use our imagination to come up with creative solutions to everyday problems and in our creative endeavors. Most inventions were created with the inventor using his or her imagination to come up with new ideas. Often, these inventors came up with creative ideas through their dreams.

Children are usually much better attuned to their imagination and can enter into and out of imagined states or play with ease. They know the difference between imagination, play and everyday waking reality. But, somehow, for many of us, when we become adults, we often get the message that imagining and play are things that are left behind in childhood for the logical reality of adulthood. Even for some children who are scolded for daydreaming or "making up stories" from their imagination, they lose this precious skill early in life.

Remembering Your Dreams:
In order to do dream work, you must first remember your dreams. For most people who are motivated to remember their dreams, a simple suggestion before going to sleep as well as keeping a note pad and pen close at hand to jot down dreams is often enough to help you remember your dreams. It's important to write down your dream in the present tense as soon as you wake up.

We often think that we'll remember a dream only to have it slip away like vapor as soon as we focus on something else. Even if what you remember is only a snippet of part of a dream, write it down. By writing down even a snippet of a dream, you're giving your unconscious mind the suggestion that dreams are important. Usually, over time, snippets will develop into more in-depth memories of dreams.

Keeping a Dream Journal:
I recommend keeping a dream journal where you record your dreams. Keeping the dream journal in a safe and private place will allow you to feel free to write down your dreams without censoring yourself. Giving each dream a date and dream title and keeping an index is also very helpful in many ways. 

First, by giving titles to your dreams, you're giving your unconscious mind the suggestion that dreams are meaningful stories that you want to remember. Second, having an index of dream titles helps you to look back on particular themes.

How Does Dream Work Help Us to Access Our Creative Imagination?
When I do dreamwork with clients, I help them to get back into the dream state (also called the hypnogogic state) of the particular dream that we're working on. In this dream state, you have access to the images, emotions, and the felt sense of the dream.

A psychotherapist who is experienced with doing this type of dream work, such as Embodied Imagination, can help clients to access not only their own experiences in the dream but also tap into the experiences of the other characters in the dream. I've written about Embodied Imagination and Robert Bosnak in prior blog posts: ( I also recommend reading Robert Bosnak's book, Embodiment, available in paperback.

If you want to develop your creative mind while dreaming, you can also give yourself a suggestion before going to sleep to have creative dreams about the issue that you want to work on. This takes some practice, motivation, and patience. Using evocative imagery just before going to sleep is often helpful to incubate dreams on a particular issue.

When I work with clients who want to incubate dreams to come up with creative solutions for a particular problem or issue, I help them get into a relaxed state to use their imagination. This might involve having them focus on their emotional experience and desire related to this issue. 

I help them to sense into their experience using their five senses, as well as their imagination, emotions and felt sense. Then, before they go to sleep, they practice what we did in our therapy session for a minute or so before going to sleep in order to incubate dreams. Often, these experiences can be revelatory, accessing a deep sense of creativity that is not usually available to them in normal waking life.

I recommend working with a psychotherapist who has a psychoanalytic background and who has experience using Embodied Imagination to get the full experience of using your imagination and developing your creativity. But you can also benefit from paying attention to your dreams on your own to develop your creativity.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, psychoanalyst, hypnotherapist, Somatic Experiencing therapist, and EMDR therapist.

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.

Clinical Hypnosis and Somatic Experiencing: Tapping into Your Creativity

As a psychotherapist in New York City, I work with many clients who want to tap into their creativity--whether it's for writing, acting, painting, enhancing their personal lives or careers, or every day problem solving. Clinical hypnosis, also known as hypnotherapy, is an excellent form of psychotherapy for tapping into your creative unconscious mind.

Hypnotic States Are Common:
There's nothing unusual or magical about being in a hypnotic state. Hypnotic states are a natural and normal part of everyday living. They're very common. 

Whether you realize it or not, you enter into and out of hypnotic states at least several times a day on most days. You might not think of yourself as being in a hypnotic state, but when you're "zoning out" when you're relaxed, staring out into nothing in particular, or feeling bored, you're often in a hypnotic state.

Clinical Hypnosis and Somatic Experiencing: Tapping Into Your Creativity

Using Clinical Hypnosis for Developing Creativity:
When you work with an experienced hypnotherapist to tap into your creativity, generally, you're in a very relaxed emotional state. The hypnotic state is usually deeper than the meditative state. You're also in a dual state of consciousness, which means that you're aware of the here-and-now as well as having access to your unconscious mind. While in a hypnotic state, at any time, you could come out of the hypnotic state to be completely in the here-and-now if you needed or wanted to be.

How I Work With Hypnosis and Somatic Experiencing to Access Your Creative Mind:
When I use clinical hypnosis with clients, I often combine hypnosis with Somatic Experiencing to help clients to have deeper access to thoughts, images, and emotions that they usually would not have access to during their normal waking state. 

You can more easily access the mind-body connection during a hypnotic state when hypnosis and Somatic Experiencing are combined. Your unconscious mind, combined with your emotional felt sense in your mind/body, often produce creative ideas and solutions to everyday problems that your logical mind alone cannot access.

If you're debating between two or more possible solutions to a problem or a creative challenge, using clinical hypnosis with Somatic Experiencing often helps you to discover which solution is right for you because you can feel the "rightness" of a particular solution. 

Being in a relaxed hypnotic state also allows you to put aside all the anxious chatter in your head that might be keeping you "stuck" with your mind going around in circles. The combination of clinical hypnosis and Somatic Experiencing helps you to focus on what's most important and allows you to have a "gut feeling" about what's right for you.

Many of my clients are often amazed at how quickly and effectively they can access creative solutions for themselves--whether they are artistic challenges or everyday problems.

Choosing a Hypnotherapist:
I strongly recommend that, when choosing a hypnotherapist, you make sure that the person you choose is a licensed psychotherapist who has the necessary clinical skills, as opposed to a hypnotist who might have learned some hypnotic techniques, but who is not a psychotherapist and does not have clinical skills. Whereas a hypnotist can only get you so far with hypnosis given the limited skills that they have , a hypnotherapist can help you to access a deeper part of yourself and will also have the clinical expertise to help you with any emotional problems that might come up during hypnotherapy.

About Me
I am a NYC licensed psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR therapist, and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I work with individuals and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Books Imagination and Medicine

At any given time, I'm usually reading at least three or four books during the same period of time. Currently, one of the books that I'm really enjoying and recommend is called Imagination and Medicine edited by Stephen Aizenstat and Robert Bosnak.

Books: Imagination and Medicine

Stephen Aizenstat is a clinical psychologist, marriage and family therapist and founder of Pacifica Graduate Institute in California. Robert Bosnak, as I've mentioned in prior blog posts, is a Jungian psychoanalyst, also in California. Both Stephen Aizenstat and Robert Bosnak are also co-founders of the Santa Barbara Healing Sanctuary in Santa Barbara, California.

My favorite articles in this book include Robert Bosnak's "The Physician Inside," Marion Woodman's "Coming to a Door," Kimberley C. Patton's "Ancient Asklepieia: Institutional Incubation and the Hope of Healing," and Ernest and Katherine Rossi's "How the Mind and the Brain Co-create Each Other Daily."

I had the pleasure of participating in an Embodied Imagination dreamwork intensive recently with Robert Bosnak. To find out more about his dreamwork, visit the website:

If you're interested in reading about cutting edge work with regard to medicine and the mind-body connection, I recommend this book, which is out in paperback.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, Somatic Experiencing therapist, and EMDR therapist.

I work with individuals and couples.

To find out more about this book and similar books, go to: http://www.springjournaland

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.   I work with individual adults and couples.

To set up a consultation, call (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.

Somatic Experiencing: Tuning Into the Mind-Body Connection

Often when we're trying to come up with solutions to personal problems, our logical minds, while important, can be limiting in terms of coming up with new and novel solutions. 

Our logical mind might be conditioned by automatic negative thoughts that get in the way. 

Using Somatic Experiencing, you can tune into the mind-body connection and you'll often be surprised at what you come up with that was not accessible to you when you only relied on your logical mind.

Somatic Experiencing:  Turning Into to the Mind-Body Connection

The Limitations of Using Only the Logical Mind vs the Mind-Body Connection:
It's not that logic doesn't have a role. But whose logic are we talking about? What you consider to be logical might not be what I think. Logic has a place but, amazingly, the combination of the mind and body often provide us with answers that we would never come up just relying on logic alone.

Using the combination of mind and body, we can get images, sensations, flashes of ideas and so much more from a deep part of ourselves that isn't usually as accessible from a purely logical place. Using Somatic Experiencing, solutions are often more creative, and you get a "gut feeling" if it's right for you.

Somatic Experiencing:  Tuning Into the Mind-Body Connection

Working with a Somatic Experiencing therapist, you learn to become more attuned to yourself in an intuitive way. I have experienced this for myself when I ask myself, "What does my body say that I need" when considering a problem.

Clients who come to me for Somatic Experiencing often say the same thing--that they have tapped into a deep source of knowing.

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

I work with individuals and couples.

To find out more about Somatic Experiencing, visit the website: 
Somatic Experiencing Training Institute

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.

When One Door Closes, Another Door Often Opens to New Opportunities

We Live in Challenging Times:
There's no doubt that we're living in challenging times. How we respond to challenging times often makes a big difference in how we get through them. It's important to remember that, often, when one door closes, another door opens.

When One Door Closes, Another Often Opens
This is not to make light of the very real and serious problems that people are facing economically and the pressure that these economic problems place on their relationships. And, of course, for many people, there might not be readily available "open doors" or opportunities on the horizon. Many people are doing the best that they can and they're facing uphill battles.

When One Door Closes, Another Door Often Opens

But often there are other "doors" that are available to us, if we are willing to see them. Being able to see them often depends on our perspective. If we allow ourselves to become overly discouraged, especially early on after a loss, we might miss seeing certain opportunities to re-evaluate our lives and take stock.

A Crisis Often Brings Change
Sometimes a crisis opens the door to change a lot faster than if it had not occurred. We might stay stuck in jobs that we no longer want or we are no longer suited for just because we become complacent. Or, we might stay stuck in a relationship that is really over in all but name. When change is forced upon us, we are often forced to consider options that we might not have considered before--like going back to college and completing a degree, if you're fortunate enough to be in a position to do that.

The other door that opens might be allowing friends and family to help you, if they're in a position to do this. This can be especially beneficial if you're the one who usually helps others. It can be an opportunity to allow others to reciprocate.

Aside from economic problems, a challenging time might be the end of a relationship. No one likes going through a breakup but, often, after you have overcome the initial hurt, you can look upon it as a time to start over. Maybe you realize that you learned certain things from being in the relationship that just ended that will be helpful to you in your next relationship.

Being Open to New Opportunities
When one door closes and another opens, you need to be willing to walk through the open door to benefit from the opportunity that has been presented to you. A new beginning can seem daunting at first, but if you try to maintain a positive attitude, the saying, "When one door closes, another opens" will be more than just a trite saying to you. It could be your next opportunity in life.

About Me
I am a NYC licensed psychotherapist, EMDR therapist, Somatic Experiencing therapist, and hypnotherapist.

I work with individuals and couples.

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.

Relationships: Are You In Love with a Fantasy of Your Partner?

One of the most challenging things about being in a relationship is when we fall in love with the fantasy of who we want rather than who the person really is. Despite the title of this blog post, this happens with both men and women. 

Are You in Love With a Fantasy of Your Partner?

This is a form of denial that, unfortunately, is common, especially early on in relationships. It's as if we turn a blind eye to the signals and cues that we're getting along the way, hoping that we can, somehow, change our partners to be more to our liking. But deluding ourselves in this way has repercussions for ourselves and for our relationships.

The following short fictionalized examples illustrate how this dynamic creates problems in relationships:

Jeff and Celia:
When Celia began dating Jeff, he mentioned to her early on that he had a long history of not being able to make commitments in prior relationships, and he didn't want to get serious with anyone at this point. For Celia, this went in one ear and out the other. She liked Jeff so much that she hoped that she would be the one who would change his mind and that he'd be willing to make a commitment with her. But one year into their dating relationship when Jeff continued to maintain that he didn't want to make a commitment with Celia, she was deeply disappointed and hurt. When Jeff ended the relationship because he felt pressured by her to make a commitment to her, Celia couldn't understand what happened.

Susan and John:
After being together for a year, John placed Susan on his credit card account, even though he knew that she had a long history of overspending and getting into debt. He ignored the obvious red flags, and hoped that he would be able to teach her to spend more responsibly. But after Susan ran up his credit card and she was unable to pay, despite his efforts to encourage her to moderate her spending, he felt angry and betrayed.

Bruce and Ed:
When Bruce and Ed began dating, Bruce told Ed that he problems with fidelity in all his other relationships. But Ed felt that what Bruce felt for him was much more than what Bruce felt in his other relationships, so he didn't believe that Bruce would cheat on him. Two years into their relationship, Ed signed into their home computer and he was shocked to find ongoing erotic email correspondence between Bruce and several other men

Linda and Betty:
When they first met, Betty revealed to Linda that she had a problem with anger management. As Linda listened to Betty describe her anger management problems in prior relationships, with family members, and at work, Linda found it hard to believe that someone who was as gentle and kind as Betty could have a temper. This was not at all how Linda saw Betty. She thought that Betty must have been exaggerating. But seven months into their relationship, they got into a spat about who should do the dishes and Betty suddenly stormed out of the apartment without warning, and she didn't come back for an hour. Linda was speechless. It was only then that Linda remembered that Betty had warned her about her temper.

Why Do People End Up Falling In Love with a Fantasy?

Very often this dynamic occurs when people first fall in love, and they don't realize that they have fallen in love with their fantasy of the other person. The mind and the heart don't like having a vacuum so, in these instances, they fill in the blanks with what is most desired, completely ignoring what might be obvious from the start.

Being in love can sometimes be like being in a cloud. It takes a while for the cloud to disperse to see who's actually there. Add to this that most people are on their very best behavior for at least the first six months or so and you can see how problems can begin.

How Can You Avoid Falling In Love with the Fantasy of Your Partner?
First, it's very important to pay attention to what this person tells you or what you know about him or her from prior history. Rather than dismiss the past, really listen and consider what this will mean for you and a potential relationship with this person. It doesn't necessarily mean that this dynamic will happen with you, but you shouldn't ignore it. It's information.

Second, don't convince yourself that you'll be able to change him or her once you're together. He or she might not want to change. And, while it's true that people can change, it's also true that people often repeat patterns in relationships, especially if they don't get professional help to try to change. Even with professional help, ingrained patterns can be difficult to change. The person has to be internally motivated to change and willing to do the work and not just responding to pressure from you.

Third, if you're in doubt as to whether you're seeing this person objectively, talk to a trusted friend. Friends, who are outside of the situation, can often see things that you can't. Try not to be defensive or argumentative, just listen. This doesn't mean that your friend is always right, but a second opinion from a trusted friend might give you a different perspective.

Fourth, once you're confronted with the pattern of behavior that you were in denial about all along, don't continue to stick your head in the sand. Often, these things don't get better by themselves. A lot will depend on your own attitude and tolerance. If you're Linda in one the examples above, and your attitude is, "I'll just let Betty blow off steam for now because she usually comes around and I know she had a hard day," meaning that you're not really that affected by this and can let it roll off you're back, that's one thing. But if Betty's temper tantrums represent unacceptable behavior that you know you can't live with, that's another thing. You need to know yourself and what is and what isn't acceptable for you. Needless to say, I'm not referring to emotional or physical abuse, but occasional temper tantrums.

If you know you can't tolerate the behavior, speak to your partner and be honest about it. If your partner warned you early on and you allowed yourself to fall in love with your fantasy of your partner and not who your partner really is, take responsibility for this. Then, discuss with your partner whether you're willing to work things out either on your own or in couples counseling.

In almost every relationship, early on, there tends to be some idealization of the other person. As we get to know our partners and they get to know us, that idealization wears off in time and, in the best case scenario, a mature relationship develops that's reality based. But when we're stuck in a fantasy, it can be a rude awakening when reality intrudes. Then, before we blame our partners, we must ask ourselves what role we played in our own disappointment.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR therapist, 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, please call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.

Living Authentically - Aligned with Your Values

As a psychotherapist in New York City, I often see clients who come to therapy in crisis because they no longer feel confident in themselves, they feel lost, and they don't know what they want to do with their lives or what they want in their relationships.  In many cases, their problems started because, somewhere along the line, often without realizing it, they began living their lives in an inauthentic way that was not in alignment with their values.  

Living Authentically - Aligned With Your Values

Before coming to therapy, these clients have often tried on their own through a variety of methods--talking to friends and family members, attending workshops, or reading self help books--to try to regain their footing, but none of these methods have worked for them. 

Core Values
As adults, we know that we have to make certain reasonable compromises in life, especially for important relationships in our lives. But I'm not referring to reasonable compromises. I'm referring to living in an emotionally inauthentic way that is out of alignment with our core values.

Over time, when we're living in such an inauthentic state, our sense of self can become eroded. Often, in order to live in a way that is so misaligned with our core values, we have to shut down a part of ourselves, so that we keep ourselves from being consciously aware that we're living in a way that is so out of synch with who we really are.

But no matter how much we try to suppress our conscious awareness, our unconscious is usually sending signals to us that become harder and harder to ignore. Over time, this signals often translate into physical symptoms. We might suffer from insomnia or have nightmares. We might feel anxious or irritable. We might get depressed. And we usually feel very tired from the energy that it takes to keep ourselves from being fully aware that we've lost our way.

But how does this happen? And why would people put themselves through such emotional turmoil? Well, the answer isn't simple and there can be many reasons. Often, people who are living out of alignment with their values are trying to please someone else--whether it's a parent or a spouse or a child or a boss. The fear of loss involved with disappointing others might be greater than the awareness of how self destructive it can be when we live in a way that is out of synch with our values. We can delude ourselves into thinking that we can do this without hurting ourselves or others.

A composite account of many cases:

Jane was going through a very lonely time in her life when she met Bill. She was in her early 30s and she had not been in a relationship for several years. She wanted very much to meet someone, settle down, and start a family. So, when she met Bill, a handsome, single, charming, intelligent man in his mid-30s with a good job on Wall Street, she was thrilled. They began dating, and he was very kind and generous with her. He talked about wanting to have a family, and Jane could see that he could be a potential partner for her.

Living Authentically - Aligned with Your Values

After they were dating for three months, Bill asked her if she would hold onto a package for him in her apartment. Jane sensed that Bill was being elusive about the contents of the package, so she tried to be very tactful when she asked him about it. This was the first time that Jane had ever seen Bill get annoyed. He accused her of not trusting him. Jane didn't want to upset him or jeopardize their relationship, so she assured him that she trusted him and she didn't need to know.

Living Authentically - Aligned with Your Values

After a month or so, Bill asked Jane for the package back, and she gave it to him. And this was the beginning of a pattern that went on for a few months. Inwardly, it bothered Jane that Bill wouldn't tell her what was in these packages, but she tried to convince herself that it didn't bother her. But, finally, after a few months, she felt that Bill owed her an explanation so she asked him again. This time, Bill was more open to talking to her about it, and he confided in her that he was dealing cocaine to colleagues on Wall Street, and he gave her the packages because he feared the police might have him under surveillance and he didn't want to be arrested for drug possession.

Jane was shocked. She had never been involved with anyone who was dealing drugs and she couldn't understand why Bill would be doing this, especially since he already earned a very good salary and bonus. They argued about it, but Bill refused to stop selling drugs. He had lots of "reasons" why he wanted and needed the extra money, and he saw no reason to stop.

At this point, Jane could have made a decision that would been in keeping with what she knew to be right for herself. She was fully aware now of what was going on and she knew that she didn't want to live her life with a drug dealer.

But, more than this, on an emotional level, she didn't want to lose Bill and she didn't want go back to being lonely. So, she convinced herself that she would be able to persuade Bill, eventually, to stop selling drugs to his colleagues and then there wouldn't be a problem any more. But from that moment on, Jane had no peace of mind. She began having headaches and difficulty sleeping. She was nervous most of the time. She began withdrawing from friends. She feared the police might follow Bill to her home and they would both be arrested.

Isolated and in crisis, she began therapy because she could no longer live with the pain of knowing that she was in love with a drug dealer. Only after she was able to admit how miserable she was and that he was knowingly placing her at risk was she able to end this relationship, start the repair work to her sense of self, and begin to understand how her lack of self confidence and loneliness caused her to go down a very slippery slope.

Common Examples of Not Living Authentically, Aligned with Your Values
You might not be able to relate to the above example because it might seem extreme to you. But living out of alignment with your values doesn't have to involve abetting a crime. There are many everyday examples of people making big compromises in their lives as a way to avoid the loss of a loved one:
  • the son who gives up his dream to be an engineer to become a doctor to please his father

  • the wife who stops going to church, even though this has been an important part of her life, because it annoys her husband when she goes

  • the daughter who hates lying, but lies to her mother's employer whenever her mother is too drunk to go to work
And so on.

Body-Mind Oriented Psychotherapy Helps People to Recover Their Sense of Self
Often, when people are living out of alignment with their values for a while, it becomes hard for them to recover a sense of themselves.

Living Authentically - Aligned with Your Values

Body-mind oriented psychotherapy, such as Somatic Experiencing or clinical hypnosis, helps people to recover their sense of self and get back into alignment with their values. Their logical minds might keep them in denial, but when they are attuned to the the mind-body connection through a mind-body oriented form of psychotherapy, they become attuned to what they need. Mind-body oriented psychotherapy is also often more effective than regular "talk therapy" in helping to heal the emotional damage.

About Me
I am a New York City licensed psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, Somatic Experiencing therapist and EMDR 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 (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.