NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Learning to Make Better Choices in Romantic Relationships

As a psychotherapist in New York City, over the years, I've see many clients, both men and women, who come to therapy in despair because they continue  to make unhealthy choices in their romantic relationships.

Learning to Make Better Choices in Romantic Relationships

Most of them want very much to be in healthy, loving relationships, but they keep choosing the same type of romantic partners who are almost certainly guaranteed to disappoint and break their hearts. Usually, they say they'd like to be with a kind, loving person, but they're often attracted to just the opposite type of person--emotionally unavailable, selfish, narcissistic, mean or abusive.

Looking at this phenomena on the surface, you might wonder: How can there be such a disparity between what they say they want or who they're attracted to?  It just doesn't seem to make sense. But looking below the surface at the underlying reasons that drive the attractions, we find the unconscious forces that make these unhealthy choices so compelling.

Usually, when there's such a disparity between the type of romantic partner someone says they want vs the type of people they're actually attracted to, these attractions are driven by early, often preverbal, bonds to their earliest caregivers, usually a mother or father.  

Of course, this isn't always a negative thing.  Many people were fortunate enough to have loving, nurturing parents. But if you weren't so fortunate, your early bonding experience might be getting in the way of your h making good choices for yourself.  You might be caught in a cycle of basing your relationships on unhealthy attractions.

For people caught in this cycle of wanting a healthy relationship, but continuing to choose emotionally unhealthy people, the dilemma becomes that, on the one hand, even when they meet people who are potential health partners, they're not attracted to them. There's no spark or chemistry, so there's little motivation to pursue these relationships.  On the other hand, when they meet the type of person they say they want to avoid, fireworks go off.

This can be a very discouraging dilemma.  But it is possible to change these dynamics  in therapy.  Using hypnotherapy, Somatic Experiencing therapy and dynamic talk therapy, it's possible to not only understand why you're continuing to make poor choices but also to learn to have attractions be more in synch with what you know is emotionally healthy for you.

About Me:
I am a New York City psychotherapist who provides therapy for individuals and couples, including dynamic talk therapy, hypnotherapy, Somatic Experiencing, and EMDR.

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.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Overcoming the Fears that Keep You Stuck

Fear can be a debilitating force that keeps us stuck and immobilized. We might want to accomplish certain goals, but overwhelming fear can keep us from even finding out what we need to do to get on the right path to achieve those goals. Sometimes, years go by, and the fear makes achieving our goals seem like an impossibility.

Overcoming the Fears that Keep You Stuck

On my first day registering for college at Hunter College of CUNY, I met a woman who was getting the paperwork to apply to the college. She told me that she'd been waiting more than 10 years to apply to college. Going to college had been her dream for all that time, she told me in a nervous and excited tone. She'd spent those years working and saving her money so she could go.

During those years, all she could get were dead end jobs that she hated, but she persevered with her goal in mind. In order to save up for four years of tuition, she made a lot of sacrifices. She kept a very strict budget: She hardly ever went out socially; she didn't buy any new clothes; and she watched every penny she spent. Now, after saving all her money, she was finally ready to get the information she needed to apply. No one in her family had ever gone to college, so this was a very big thing for her.

As listened to her more, it became evident that she'd had so many fears about going to college, even in terms of the application process, that she never found out about financial aid, scholarships or loans. Her fear for something she very much wanted kept her from even getting basic information that could have saved her from delaying all those years and making unnecessary sacrifices.

 She had been told by her parents that college was very expensive, out of reach for them and probably out of reach for her. So, she avoided getting information and doggedly set about saving every penny, convinced that she had to sacrifice everything in order to begin the process of applying for college.

As she was telling me how she scrimped and saved, I wondered how she was going to feel when she found out she didn't need to wait all those years to make her dream come true. As it turned out, I saw her a few months later, after she had been accepted to the college. She told me how shocked she was that she was entitled to a substantial amount of financial aid, and she didn't need to sacrifice all those years, staying home, and depriving herself. She realized that, during all those years, she allowed her fear of even getting information to keep her stuck, and when she finally mobilized herself to pursue her dream, it wasn't nearly as daunting as she anticipated. She regretted self sacrificing needlessly and wished she had looked into things sooner.

Even though I didn't know this young woman well, I never forgot her story and the lesson it provided. When we're fearful of pursuing our dreams, they often seem so much more daunting than they turn out to be. Often, when we're finally on the path where we want to be, we say to ourselves, "Wow! This isn't as bad as I thought! Why did I wait? I could have started sooner."

You can overcome fears that keep you stuck
Of course, it's not always so simple. Overwhelming trauma often creates fears that make it very difficult to overcome. We can't always "bootstrap" ourselves along to overcome our fears. Sometimes, we need help. Not knowing this young woman well, I don't know what possible traumatic events might have occurred to her parents to cause them to feel that college was an almost unattainable goal for their daughter. I don't know what fears this young woman might have taken on from them or developed on her own. But I could feel the regret and disappointment she experienced for allowing her fears to overcome her.

Letting go of your fears

Working with a skilled hypnotherapist, it's possible to overcome long-held fears that keep you from achieving your dreams. As I've mentioned in other blog posts, clinical hypnosis isn't a "magic bullet." It's not something that's done to you while you passively observe. But it can be an effective form of therapy to help you overcome the emotional obstacles that keep you stuck.

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

I work with individuals and couples.

To find out more about clinical hypnosis, you can visit the professional hypnosis websiteAmerican Society of Clinical Hypnosis

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.