NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Are You Able to Celebrate Your Progress Along the Way to Meeting Your Goals?

Are you someone who has trouble giving yourself a pat on the back for the progress you've made?  Instead of celebrating the progress you've made so far, do you focus on how much more you have to go so you end up feeling dissatisfied with yourself no matter how much effort you've made?  

If this sounds like you, you're not alone.  A lot of people have trouble giving themselves credit for their well earned progress.

Are You Able to Celebrate Your Progress?

Long Term Goals Are Easier to Accomplish If You Celebrate the Progress Along the Way
When you're working on a long term goal, like getting a Bachelor's or Master's degree or any endeavor that can take a few years, it's easier to keep yourself motivated for the long haul if you're able to feel proud of what you accomplish along the way.

While it's important to be aware of the end result, if that becomes your complete focus, to the exclusion of the milestones along the way, it's easier to become discouraged because you're getting little satisfaction for your efforts.

People who have problems celebrating their progress are often very hard on themselves.  Many of them grew up in families where there were critical parents where nothing was ever good enough ("You only got an A?  Why didn't you get an A+").

Adults, who grew up in households where they weren't recognized for their efforts, have a hard time gauging what "progress" is, which is why they focus on the end goal rather than the steps they accomplish along the way.

Overcoming Shame and the Feeling of "Not Being Good Enough"
When children are only recognized by their parents for the end result, they internalize a lot of shame. With the shame comes the feeling of "not being good enough."

As adults, they often feel they have to prove themselves over and over again.  Only the end product counts, and it often needs to be "perfect."

Getting Help in Therapy
Life can be challenging enough without imposing such harsh standards on yourself.  If you're someone who has a hard time acknowledging your efforts along the particular path you have chosen, you can learn to overcome this problem in psychotherapy.

Celebrate Your Progress

A skilled clinician can help you to work through these issues so that you're free from this emotional burden.  Letting go of shame and a punitive attitude towards yourself can help you to lead a more fulfilling life.

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

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Are Your Emotional Needs Being Met in Your Relationship?

One of the leading causes of relationship breakups is when one or both people in a relationship feel that their emotional needs aren't being met.  And, yet, so many couples are reluctant to discuss this important issue with each other.  

Are Your Emotional Needs Being Met in Your Relationship?

Every Relationship Goes Through Its Ups and Downs
You can't expect that your spouse or partner will always be attuned to your emotional needs. There can be many reasons why your spouse isn't meeting your emotional needs at a particular point in your relationship, including financial or work stressors, anxiety, medical problems, problems with your children or other family members.

But if you find that, over a period of time, your emotional needs aren't being met in your relationship, it's time that you and your spouse sit down for a heart-to-heart talk about what's going on in your relationship.

What Does It Mean to Have Your Emotional Needs Met?
You and your spouse or partner won't always be on the same page about everything.  For instance, you might have particular interests that your spouse doesn't have or vice versa.  So, neither you nor your spouse are likely to meet all of each other's needs.  This is why it's healthy to have friends that you enjoy seeing where you have common interests that you and your spouse might not have.

But when I refer to having your emotional needs met by your spouse, I'm talking about, on the most basic level, feeling loved and cared about by your spouse.

Each Person Might Communicate Love in a Different Way
Many  couples, who have been together for a long time, stop expressing their love and appreciation for each other the way they used to when they first met.  For a lot of these couples, it's not so much a matter of not caring any more as it is that, over time, they've forgotten how to communicate these feelings to each other.  Or, in some instances, they might never have known how to do it.

For other couples, each person in the relationship might have a different way of expressing love and appreciation.  If each person in the relationship is on a different wavelength about how to express love and appreciation, each of them might miss certain gestures that are meant to convey these feelings.

For instance, a husband might express how much he loves for his wife by making sure that her car is always in good working order.  But the wife in this relationship might feel unloved because, from her point of view, husbands who love their wives express it by saying, "I love you" or by bringing them flowers.

Since they're both coming from different places about how to express love, the wife might completely miss that this is her husband's way of showing that he loves her.  She might just think her husband likes tinkering with the car.  And the husband might feel unappreciated for his efforts.  So, it's important for each person to understand his or her spouse.  And there can be some compromise around these issues if the couple takes the time to talk about it.

You Deserve to Have Your Emotional Needs Met
Many people struggle  with the idea that they deserve to have their emotional needs met, especially if they grew up in a household where their emotional needs weren't met when they were children.  As adults, they might not know what they need in order to feel loved.  Or even if they do know, they might feel so undeserving that they don't feel entitled to it.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you feel you're not getting your emotional needs met by your spouse, you're not alone.  Many people seek out help in individual therapy as well as couples counseling because of this issue.

If your spouse is willing to participate in couples counseling, you both can learn to change the current dynamic in the relationship.  You'll probably also learn a lot about what your spouse has been experiencing in his or her relationship with you.

Even if your spouse isn't willing, at this point, to participate in couples counseling, you can benefit from your own individual therapy to learn to deal with this issue in your relationship and to avoid the anxiety and depression that can often develop when your emotional needs aren't being met.

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

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Are You Trying to Avoid the Emotional Pain of a Breakup By Having the Next Romance in the Wings?

There are many people who start casting an eye around for the next romance as their current relationship is ending.  They prefer to have a new person in the wings so they can begin a new relationship just as the current one ends.

Trying to Avoid the Emotional Pain of a Breakup By Having the Next Romance in the Wings

Why Do People Seek Out a New Romance as the Current Relationship is Ending?
There are lots of reasons why people want to have the next romance in the wings when they're going through a breakup, and many of those reasons are fear based:

Fear of Being Alone
Some people seek out someone new immediately because they're afraid of being alone.  To them, being alone often means they're undesirable.  They like to go from one relationship to the next without ever being single, if possible.

Fear of Dealing with the Emotional Pain of the Heartbreak
Related to fear of being alone, many people don't want to deal with the emotional pain of the breakup.  Rather than deal with painful emotions, they want to immerse themselves in a new relationship to avoid feeling the pain.

You Can Run, But You Can't Hide
While it's understandable that no one wants to feel the emotional pain of a breakup, thinking that you can avoid the pain completely by seeking out someone new is an illusion.

Running from the problem isn't the answer.  You might distract yourself for a while with someone new, but pushing down the emotional pain from the breakup will just cause it to manifest in other ways, including physical ailments (headaches, stomach problems, body aches, etc).

In addition, whether you realize it or not, you bring your old emotional baggage from the current relationship into the new relationship.

Learning to Cope With Emotional Pain Can Make You More Resilient
As much as we hope to avoid dealing with emotional pain in life, including the pain of a breakup, learning to cope with emotional pain, rather than trying to avoid it, is part of emotional development.

While you're going through the pain, it can feel awful.  But, usually, while you're recovering from the loss, you can learn a lot about yourself, relationships and life's lessons.

After you've healed, you usually realize that you can cope with a lot more than you might have realized, and you don't need to distract yourself with a new relationship, a drink, a drug, gambling or other potential emotional numbing activities.

Healing From Heartbreak and Building Resilience to Deal With Life's Inevitable Challenges
Once you've recovered from your loss, having gone through the emotional pain, you often become more resilient and better able to deal with the next challenge in life.

Just knowing that you were able to cope with the pain and you got through it, as painful as it might have been, can give you more confidence to deal with future adversity, which is unavoidable in life.

Getting Help in Therapy
Everyone needs help at some point in his or her life.

If you find that you're having a difficult time coping with a breakup on your own or even with your emotional support network, you could benefit from seeking the help of a licensed psychotherapist, who can help you to work through the healing process.

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

I work with individual adults and couples, and I've helped many people through the emotional healing process.

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.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Serious Medical Problems Can Change How You Feel About Yourself

When you're healthy and your life is going well, all other things being equal, it's easy to feel good about yourself.  But when you develop serious medical problems, it can change how you feel about yourself and about life in general.  When people develop serious medical problems, they often have a sudden sense of their physical and emotional vulnerabilities in ways they might not have experienced before.  

Serious Medical Problems Can Change the Way You Feel About Yourself

Reactions to Being Diagnosed with a Serious Medical Problem:  Shock, Fear, Anger, Sadness
If the medical problem is unexpected and potentially life threatening, people often experience shock at hearing the diagnosis.  Initially, a sense of disbelief can create a sense of emotional paralysis and confusion.  When the shock wears off, people often feel a combination of fear, anger and sadness about the "unfairness" of being diagnosed with the illness.  

Each person's experience is different.  These feelings don't occur in a linear way or, necessarily, in this order.  They can happen all at once or in any order.  However it happens, it usually takes people outside of their everyday experience and it can change their perception of themselves.

Being Treated as "a Sick Patient" 
A day before you received a diagnosis of a major medical illness, like cancer or heart problems, you probably thought of yourself as a husband, wife, mother, father, brother, sister, friend, an employee and all the other identifications that we all take on in life.

Suddenly, after you've been diagnosed with a major medical problem, your doctors identify you as a "sick patient," a "cancer patient," a "heart patient" or whatever diagnosis is applicable.  This isn't a criticism of the medical profession.  It's just the way it is in many medical settings, especially hospitals. When this happens, you can feel like you've been reduced to one identification-- your diagnosis.

You're More Than Your Medical Diagnosis
But each of us, no matter what our health issues might be, is more than any particular diagnosis.  We're whole people with relationships, histories and, hopefully, dreams for the future.  After a while, if you take on the identification of your diagnosis, it can change how you feel about yourself, reducing you to a list of symptoms.

Words Are Powerful
For the sake of maintaining a healthy emotional attitude, it is far better to be thought of as "a person with cancer" rather than "a cancer patient" (or whatever diagnosis applies).

You might think that this is just a matter of semantics, but it's not.  Words are powerful. When you're identified as "a cancer patient,"the implication is that this is your primary or, worse, your only identification.  But when you're identified as "a person with cancer," the implication is that there is a lot more to you than just your medical diagnosis--you're a whole person with a life that includes your medical diagnosis but also goes beyond your illness.  Rather than losing your sense of self to your illness, you maintain all the different aspects of yourself.

Research has shown that a positive attitude can have a significant effect on recovery.  So, maintaining a healthy sense of self can make the difference between having a good or a poor medical outcome.  So, how you think of yourself, including your sense of identity, is important.

Finding New Meaning in Life While Dealing With a Serious Medical Problem
I know there are exceptional individuals who are given serious medical diagnoses who find tremendous new meaning in life.  They appreciate every day, their relationships take on new meaning, and they might even find a renewed sense of spiritual connection.

While this is certainly impressive and something to aspire to when you've been diagnosed with a serious medical problem, a lot of people, through no fault of their own, find if very difficult to get to this place emotionally, and pointing to these exceptional people can make these other individuals feel blamed for not being able to reach such an enlightened state.

Your Internal and External Resources
If you're fortunate enough to be an individual who is resilient and who has a good emotional support system among family and friends, your chances for maintaining a healthy sense of self, despite the illness, are better.

As a resilient person, who has emotional support, you might have an awareness that, during the course of your life, you've overcome other challenges and you could see your medical problems as one more challenge to be overcome.

But not everyone is fortunate enough to be resilient and have a support system.  In addition, sometimes, prior emotional trauma can get triggered when you're diagnosed with a serious medical problem.  At that point, you're not only dealing with the current medical problem, but you're also dealing with the emotions that get triggered from prior trauma.

Under these circumstances, it's not unusual to feel powerless.  Feeling powerless, due to the current situation as well as feelings triggered from the past, can cause you to feel anxious or depressed.

Suddenly, your life looks a lot different from before your diagnosis.  People who have been diagnosed with a major medical problem, often talk in terms of "before the diagnosis" and "after the diagnosis" with the diagnosis serving a dividing line in their lives.

Getting Help in Therapy
Working with clients who have medical problems, I often find that a combination of clinical hypnosis and Somatic Experiencing (SE) can be very effective to help them overcome the emotional challenges and maintain a healthy sense of self.

If you're struggling emotionally due to a medical diagnosis, you owe it to yourself to seek the help of a licensed psychotherapist who practices clinical hypnosis and Somatic Experiencing.  

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

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Talking to Your Spouse About Your Therapy Sessions

Psychotherapy clients often ask me for my opinion as to whether it's advisable for them to talk to their spouse or significant other about their therapy sessions.

Exploring the Meaning of Sharing the Contents of Your Therapy Sessions With Your Spouse
While I certainly don't have a "rule" about clients speaking to their spouse about their psychotherapy sessions, when a client asks me about it, I like to explore the meaning it has for him or her and how s/he thinks it might affect his or her participation in therapy.

Talking to Your Spouse About Your Therapy Sessions

After we discuss it, many of them come to the conclusion that, while it might be interesting, at times, to talk to their spouse about what they discussed in therapy, there might be times when they don't want to share everything.  

For most people, it's not a matter of keeping secrets from their spouse.  It's more a matter of having a place where they can come, where the time is dedicated exclusively to them, and where they can explore anything they want to talk about in a non-judgmental, empathic environment.  Most people don't have this experience in other areas of their lives.  

Therapy as a Special Time and Place For the Client
Therapy is a special time and place for the client.   Often, people like to reflect quietly on their therapy sessions afterwards.  Some people keep a journal of their thoughts and dreams related to their therapy.

Aside from the fact that it's often difficult to convey to someone who wasn't there the personal experiences that they have in therapy, clients often want to take the time and space for themselves to fully experience the sessions.  

The Unconscious Processing of the Therapy Session Continues After the Session
Most clients, who have experience with therapy, know that the unconscious mind continues to process the session even after the session is over.  Since the experience is unconscious, they might not have a direct experience of it immediately.  But, often, this unconscious processing shows up in dreams, day dreams or a sudden, new awareness about themselves or their lives.

Since this unconscious processing continues after the session, this process can be foreshortened by the feedback that a client gets from a well-meaning spouse.  When people who were not in the psychotherapy session hear about the session, it can seem totally different to them as compared to clients' personal experiences.  A lot goes on unconsciously between the therapist and the client that is unspoken, but is just as real an experience as any client-therapist verbal exchange.  

Trying to Explain Feelings That Are Often Ephemeral: Words Can Elude You
When a client attempts to explain the experience in therapy to a wife or husband, the client might be cutting short the unconscious processing by trying to concretize it too soon.  Also, if the spouse's reaction is something like, "I don't get it.  What's so special about that?" and the client tries to explain or justify his experience, it often takes away from the experience.

This is not to say that most spouses aren't supportive of their loved ones being in therapy.  It's not about that.  It's about allowing the unconscious process to continue to go where it needs to go without external input. 

If you think about what it's like to really convey a dream sometimes, you can get a sense of what it can be like, at times, to try to convey the experience of some therapy sessions.  When you tell your dream, often, words aren't sufficient to convey your internal experience of the dream.  Trying to explain your experience in therapy can be similar.  It can be frustrating.  

After a While, You Could Feel Like Your Spouse is in the Therapy Room With You
The other reason you might not want to talk to your spouse about your therapy sessions is that, once you get into the habit of doing it, you can begin to feel like your spouse is in the room with you in every session.

At times, that could be a very emotionally supportive feeling.  But, other times, knowing while you're in session that you're going to talk about your therapy to your spouse afterwards, could inhibit you from expressing yourself freely in the session.  Some clients, who talk about their therapy sessions with their spouse on a regular basis, might not even realize that it could be inhibiting their free expression in session.  

The other factor is that people often come to their own individual therapy to talk about problems in their relationship.   They usually feel the need not to share certain aspects of this with their spouse.

To Share or Not to Share:  The Choice is Up to You
When you're in therapy, the choice is yours as to whether or not you share your experiences with your spouse or others.  But, before you share, it's worth considering the potential effects that talking about your sessions could have for your treatment.

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

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 me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

When You Just Don't Feel Right and It's Hard to Put Your Feelings Into Words

There are times when you "just don't feel right"and it's hard to put your feelings into words.  You just know that something is wrong.  Not being able to put words to your feelings can be especially frustrating if you can't attribute your feelings to any particular event or memory in your life.

When You Just Don't Feel Right

You're Not Alone
If this is happening to you, you're not alone.  Not being able to put uncomfortable feelings into words is a common problem.

Many people who have this experience think they need to know what's wrong before they come to therapy. Then, aside from not feeling right, they often feel ashamed of not being able to explain what's happening to them.

But it's important for you to know that in order to benefit from therapy, you don't need to be able to explain what's wrong.  A skilled therapist can help you to explore your feelings, discover the source of your problems, and help you to work through these issues.

The Mind-Body Connection
As a psychotherapist, I'm very interested in the mind-body connection, which is why I use clinical hypnosis, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing with clients.

When you learn to connect what's going on in your mind with what's going on in your body, it becomes easier to discover the source of your uncomfortable feelings and work through the problem.

You always have your body as a resource, and once you develop the skills necessary to tap into that resource, it's something that you'll always have, even when you leave therapy.

Using mind-body oriented psychotherapy isn't just an intellectual process, like many forms of talk therapy.  It's an integrated combination of your entire internal experience as well as what might be happening for you now or your memories from the past.

Mind-Body Oriented Psychotherapy:  Clinical Hypnosis, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing
When I use mind-body oriented psychotherapy, like clinical hypnosis, EMDR or Somatic Experiencing, I continue to help clients to connect with their unconscious process, the experience you're having that might be outside of your every day awareness.

I'm psychoanalytically trained, and exploring the unconscious is an important part of my work.

Finding Out More About Mind-Body Oriented Psychotherapy
If you're curious about mind-body oriented psychotherapy, like clinical hypnosis, EMDR or Somatic Experiencing, take a look at the links I've provided below.

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

I work with individual adults and couples.

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

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

Are You and Your Partner on the Same Wavelength About Your Relationship?

After the initial stage of dating, when you're both having a good time and things are passionate, more than likely, you and the person you're dating begin to assess if you each think you're compatible to take your relationship to the next level.  If you want to be in a serious, committed relationship, part of dating is to try to determine this and to see if you're both on the same wavelength.

Are You Compatible With Each Other?
It's not always easy to determine if you're compatible with one another.  If you want to be in a long term relationship, it's important to know you want and what you might be willing to compromise about.

Are You and Your Partner on the Same Wavelength?

Communication is key, but not everyone knows how to communicate about this, especially when s/he feels there isn't a future for the relationship.  Some people will go to great lengths to avoid having this conversation because it often makes people feel emotionally vulnerable.  While it's understandable that it can be an uncomfortable conversation, avoiding talking about it isn't the answer.

Do You Both Feel the Same Way About Each Other?
Even when dating develops into a serious, monogamous relationship, as the relationship progresses, just  because you're in a relationship doesn't mean that you and your boyfriend (or girlfriend) are on the same wavelength about it.  Things change.  The relationship might continue to blossom and grow into a long-term relationship.  Or, you could end up breaking up.

Relationships often go through various stages, depending upon what each person wants.  It's important to know if what you want is the same thing that the other person wants.  If you both just assume that you both want the same thing, this is a recipe for disaster.

Potential Signs that You and Your Boyfriend Might Not Be on the Same Wavelength
  • You sense that there's something "off" between the two of you and, rather than talk to him about it, you walk on eggshells instead.  On some level you might know that your relationship is in some sort of limbo, but you avoid talking to him about it because you're afraid to have this confirmed.
  • You realize that he's not as available by phone, text or in person as he used to be (this assumes that there aren't any practical reasons for this), and you feel he's avoiding you.
  • He often becomes distracted when you're together and you don't feel as close with each other as you used to be when you first started seeing each other.  This can be especially hurtful to the person who might still be interested.
The items listed above can also be the result of other causes, so you'll have to use your judgment to determine if these are signs that you're not both on the same wavelength or there's some other explanation.

Talk About the Relationship
But rather than looking for signs, which you can easily misread, have an honest and open discussion with the person you're seeing after you're been seeing each other for a few months.

If your boyfriend (or girlfriend) says it's still too soon for him or her to determine if the relationship will develop into something more serious, ask yourself if you would like to continue seeing this person to see where it goes or if you feel it's been long enough and you don't want to continue to spend time together.  Assuming that you want to be in a long term relationship, this can be tricky and there are a lot of personal and practical factors to take into account when you're making this decision.

When both people come to the same conclusion--that the relationship has taken its course and it would be better to breakup, it's obviously a lot easier than when only one person feels this way.  But, even so, the breakup doesn't need to be acrimonious.  If you're the one who wanted to remain together and he's the one who wants to break if off, try not to take it personally.  If the reason you're breaking up is because you're not compatible, it's not anyone's fault.  And, of course, if you both agree on continuing together, it's not a problem.

Coping With Change
Change is inevitable in life.  Even when the change is something that we want, it can be stressful.  It's even more stressful when the change isn't something that we would have chosen.

Getting Help in Therapy
Although it's hurtful, if there is a breakup, your emotional support network and your ability to bounce back from adversity can see you through until you heal.  

But if this isn't enough or if you don't have a good emotional support network and you're not feeling resilient at this point in your life, you could benefit from seeking help from a licensed mental health professional who can help you to heal.

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

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Role of the Family Scapegoat in Dysfunctional Families

The role of the child who is designated as the family scapegoat in dysfunctional families is to serve as the identified "problem" in the family.  Also known as the family's "black sheep," the child who is given this role tends to be the focus of the family.  

The Role of the Family Scapegoat in Dysfunctional Families

The family can point to the child who is placed in the role as the scapegoat and blame the family's problems on this child, which is the primary reason why families designate a particular child, usually the most vulnerable one, to be in this role.

When the Family Points to the Family Scapegoat,  They Divert Attention Away From More Serious Family Problems
More often than not, the family actually has more serious family problems than whatever problems the scapegoated child might have.  But by focusing on the child who is in the role of the scapegoat, the family is able to avoid looking at these more serious problems by pointing to this child as the source of their problems.

When young children are placed in this rigid role, they often believe that they're the source of the family's problems.  This is a heavy burden to place on a child and, aside from feeling overwhelmed by having this role imposed on him or her, the child often feels hurt, angry and shame.

Even if the child didn't have serious problems before, being burdened with this role can create its own problems.  It's not unusual for children who are in the role of the scapegoat to, then, develop emotional problems that affect them at home and at school.  This serves as further proof for the family that this child is the source of their problems.

Rigid Roles For Children Are Often Found in Dysfunctional and Alcoholic Families
Placing children in rigid roles often occurs in families where there is alcoholism.  Rather than deal with one or both parents' alcoholism, the family avoids dealing with it by saying that at least the scapegoated child is the "bad one" and is causing all the problems in the family.

If this family comes in for help, they usually point to the scapegoated child as the only problem because they want to avoid dealing with the alcoholism.  Sometimes, parents in these families go so far as to call  this child as "a loser,"which is a cruel and destructive way to describe any child.

Aside from placing one or more children in the rigid role of the "black sheep," these families often have other rigid roles, like designating another child as the "hero."  This is the child that the family points to with pride.  This child is pushed to be "the good one," and to get excellent grades and excel in other ways.

Even though it might seem preferable to be the "hero" than the scapegoated "black sheep," any kind of rigid role is destructive.  In the case of the "hero,"the child is expected to be perfect, which is another burdensome role to place on a child.  Also, parents often pit the "black sheep" and the "hero" against one another.

It's not unusual for adults, who were placed in this scapegoated role as children, to continue to feel like they're the "black sheep" in their adult lives.  Since they have internalized this role as children, they continue to believe it, sometimes for the rest of their lives, if they don't get help.  Internalizing this role can create feelings of low self worth, which can lead to problems with substance abuse, problems in relationships, and problems with the law.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you were considered the "black sheep" of your family when you were growing up, you don't need to continue to carry this burden as an adult.  You might not realize the toll that being designated as the family scapegoat can have on you throughout your life, especially if you believe it.

Psychotherapy can help you to overcome the emotional burden that was placed on you as a child so you no longer have to carry this burden as an adult.  You can work through this issue, free yourself from the destructive effects of your history, and lead a more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex 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.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Overcoming Grief Gambling

News stories about former San Diego mayor, Maureen O'Connor, have brought to light the importance of getting help for grief gambling.  According to news reports, Ms. O'Connor gambled more than a billion dollars of her own money as well as money she embezzled from her foundation due to a combination of grief gambling, which is a syndrome that is more common than most people realize, and a medical condition that she was contending with at the time.  According to news reports, Ms. O'Connor started grief gambling after her husband and other people close to her died.

Overcoming Grief Gambling

What is Grief Gambling?
Grief gambling is a compulsive and addictive form of gambling.  It usually occurs among people, especially the elderly, who have had a lot of losses and who haven't learned healthy ways of dealing with their grief.

Rather than dealing with their feelings about their losses, people who engage in grief gambling use it as an escape to avoid emotions that are uncomfortable for them.  Generally speaking, they don't go through the usual mourning process because they avoid feelings that are uncomfortable for them.  Grief gambling can occur at any age, but it often occurs among the elderly because they've sustained the losses of so many people in their lives.

Overcoming Grief Gambling
Unlike excessive drinking or drug abuse, where there are usually signs of impairment, grief gambling is easier to hide.  People who engage in grief gambling can sit in front of their computers and gamble away thousands of dollars or, as in the case of Ms. O'Connor, more than a billion dollars, in less time than most people would imagine.  They can maintain their secret life of gambling for a while--until, inevitably, they must face the consequences of their losses because these games are always stacked in favor of "the house" and the odds are against the person gambling.

Compassion Instead of Criticism For People Who Have Problems With Addictive Behavior
While it's true that people who engage in irresponsible or illegal activities must face the consequences of their behavior, I believe that, rather than judging people who are caught in the grip of addictive behavior, we need to have compassion for them.  While it might be hard to understand how someone could get him or herself into a predicament where s/he gamble away a child's college fund or the family's life savings, it's important to not to be judgmental.

What Are the Consequences of Grief Gambling?
People who engage in grief gambling to escape feeling their grief have been known to file for bankruptcy.  Marriages are ruined, and jobs are lost due to this form of gambling.  Most people who engage in grief gambling don't engage in sociopathic activities to continue gambling.  But there have been other cases where individuals, caught in the grip of this addictive behavior, have engaged in "white collar" crime and other illegal activities to feed their gambling habit.

Grief Gambling and Denial
You might ask how a sane person could allow themselves to get caught up in such addictive behavior.  This is a complex subject, but one important factor is the psychological defense mechanism of denial.  Most people who are caught up in grief gambling know that it's only a matter of time before they have to face the consequences of their behavior, but denial keeps them from fully coming to grips with this.  Whether they tell themselves, "I'll just do it one more time, and then I'll stop" or "I'll stop after the next big win," denial keeps them going. 

The Psychological "Rewards" of Grief Gambling
The online games are designed to be compelling with psychologically-rewarding intermittent rewards for online gamblers.  Playing these games also stimulates the dopamine receptors in the brain, which also helps to make it addictive.  For grief gamblers who go to the casinos, the casinos reward "high rollers" with free hotel rooms, expensive meals, and just about whatever they want to keep them gambling.  They're made to feel very special.

Getting Help:  Psychotherapy to Deal with Grief
As I've mentioned in other blog posts, we're hard wired for attachment, not loss.  Needless to say, losing someone you love or, worse still, multiple losses of loved ones, is very difficult.  It's understandable that no one would want to go through the mourning process if he or she had a choice. But, unfortunately, loss is part of life, whether we like it or not or whether we feel we're ready to deal with it or not.

Aside from being at risk for addictive behavior, unresolved bereavement  can put you at risk for other psychological problems, like depression or an anxiety disorder.  Unresolved bereavement can also compromise your immune system, putting you at risk for medical problems.

When you work with a skilled psychotherapist, who has experience helping clients through their grief, you learn to mourn the loss of your loved one so that you can begin the healing process and you no longer feel overwhelmed by your grief.   You'll learn to develop healthy coping skills, rather than turning to grief gambling or other unhealthy activities.

Mourning is a process, and the process is different for each person.   In a society that tends not to discourage dealing with uncomfortable feelings, well-meaning people will often tell you to "just get over it."  But no one can tell you how long it should take you to mourn your loss.  With the help of a skilled therapist with whom you feel a rapport, you can get through this difficult time with the emotional support and new coping skills you'll learn in therapy.

Getting Help:  Gamblers Anonymous
For people with gambling problems, I often recommend that they attend the 12 Step program, Gamblers Anonymous.  At Gamblers Anonymous, people usually find supportive group members, many of them who have been successful at abstaining from gambling for many years.  Other group members are at various stages in their recovery.  The link to the G.A. website provides a list of meetings all over the U.S.

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

I work with individual adults and couples.  I have helped many clients to heal from bereavement issues.  I also have an expertise in working with addictions.

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, February 16, 2013

Words Have Power

There is an old adage: "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me" which could not be more untrue.

As a psychotherapist, I hear many accounts from individuals and couples about just how harmful words can be when spoken in anger and in haste. 

The Power of Words

Words, whether used to attack in anger or used with love and compassion, are very powerful. And, yet, I think we often underestimate the power of words and don't stop to think before we say certain things that can't be taken back once they're said. Many times, these words, often thoughtlessly blurted out, can seriously damage or end a relationship or a friendship or cost someone a job.

Comforting Words
Words, whether written or oral, can also be comforting and supportive.  A few supportive words from a loved one can make all the difference.  Also, when we read a story that is comforting and soothing, it can be very healing.

Words Said in Anger Can Have a Lasting Effect
Often, the effects of these words far outlast the few seconds it takes to say them. I'm thinking in particular of situations where a parent tells a child, in moment of frustration and exasperation, "You can't do anything right!" or, even more damaging, "You're never going to amount to anything."

It's often the case that this child carries these words with him for the rest of his life, and they're there right under the surface waiting to be triggered later on as an adult whenever he feels (or he is made to feel) inadequate. I'm also thinking of situations between couples where, as arguments escalate, each person tries to say things that are increasingly more harmful in an effort to "win" the fight (of course, there's really no "winning" in these situations). Other examples come to mind, like road rage, where drivers become impatient with each other and words can escalate to physical violence.

Many times, whatever momentary gratification is derived from saying these harsh words, especially in personal relationships, is far outweighed afterwards by remorse and regret. And even when there is forgiveness, the other person often doesn't forget what has been said.

It seems to me that, during the last several years, I've been hearing more accounts than usual of how damaging angry and unkind words have ruined relationships between children and their parents, in marriages, in friendships, between employee and employer, between colleagues and in other business relationships. Usually, these dynamics occur in person but they also occur by phone, via email, and in Instant Messaging. I don't know what accounts for this increase or even if what I'm seeing is representative of a larger dynamic. But if it is more prevalent today than before, perhaps part of it is the increasingly faster pace of our lives, or the ease and speed of technology for communicating, or if, somehow, as a society, we've become somewhat desensitized and insensitive to each other.

What is apparent, however, is that the more a person engages in this type of behavior, the more habitual it becomes, and the harder it is to break this habit. Of course, no one can be expected to be "a saint" and it's normal to have angry feelings. But we can control how and when we express ourselves. And so much of the damage that is often done with harsh and angry words could be avoided if we just stop and think before we speak.

Learn to Recognize Physical Cues to Prevent Yourself From Uttering Words You'll Regret
If you're quick to utter angry and harsh words, learn to recognize the cues in yourself before you blow your top and say things that you're going to regret. These cues can be physical, like when you feel your face getting flush or you feel a knot of anger in your stomach or many other cues in your body that are particular to you and that you can learn to recognize as signs that you're about to lose it. These cues can also be mental or emotional, as when you recognize the thoughts that you're having just before they turn into words that you could use as weapons.

This is a skill, like many skills, that you can learn. If an argument is escalating and you feel yourself on the verge of losing it, take a time out and get back to the other person once you've had time to cool off. Try to put yourself in the other person's shoes for a moment and see the situation from his or her point of view. Could it be that there's some misunderstanding that can be cleared up when cooler heads prevail?

Getting Help in Therapy
If you find that you often use words in ways that you later regret and you're unable to stop this habit on your own, you could benefit from the help of a licensed psychotherapist.

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

I work with individuals and couples.  I have helped many clients learn to communicate with others in a healthier way.

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

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

Relationships: Your Ex, Who Abandoned You, Wants to "Start Over"

Being abandoned by someone you love deeply is one of the most painful experiences that anyone can go through.  It can be debilitating on every level--emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  It can cause you to feel you're "not good enough" and "not lovable."  Many people often feel ashamed about being left, especially because it can trigger earlier abandonment issues from childhood.

Your Ex Wants to Start Over

The Road to Emotional Recovery
When you've been abandoned by someone you loved and trusted, the road to recovery can be long and arduous, especially if you were in a long term relationship with this person.  As human beings, we're hard wired for emotional bonding and attachment, not for loss.

What often makes it worse is that well-meaning people might try to encourage you to "just get over it" and "move on," but it's just not possible to wave a magic wand to erase the emotional pain involved with this type of major loss.  You need time and space to grieve.  And, yet, life goes on.  You still need to get up every day, although it might take a lot of effort just to do that, and take care of your responsibilities.   You might wonder how you'll get through the day or even the next minute without falling apart.

Step by step, with the support of loved ones who understand you and your loss, you work to put the pieces of your shattered heart and your life back together again.  Gradually, the pain begins to lift until you begin to feel a sense of hope again.  You realize that you're now having moments when you feel lighter.  You're not completely recovered, but you're not where you were when your spouse or partner left.

What to Do If Your Ex Wants to "Start Over"?
Over time, you're starting to feel better about yourself and the world around you.  Then, suddenly, the unthinkable happens:  Your ex, who abandoned you, returns and he or she wants to "start over" again.  Once again, your world can get turned upside down.

If your second reaction, after the initial shock, is anger, you're in good company.  This is a common and understandable reaction in this situation.  But shock and anger can't be the basis for making a decision about whether to start over with your ex.  You need to stop, think and sort out your feelings before you make any hasty decisions.

No one can tell you what's right for you.  For many people, who were left by an ex, the answer to "starting over" would be a resounding "No!" and they would send their ex packing with Donna Summer's song, "I Will Survive" playing in the background.  But for many other people, including possibly you, the answer might not be so clear.   You might feel confused by a lot of mixed feelings.    This is also a common reaction.

But there are a few questions you can ask yourself that might help you to decide if you want to open your heart and allow your ex to return:

What has changed?
Your ex's apology and just saying you're going to "start over" doesn't automatically resolve whatever issues caused your ex to abandon the relationship or whatever problems you might have had before.  Be honest with yourself. What has changed?  Even if your ex had an epiphany about his or her behavior, will this realization alone be enough to prevent your ex from abandoning you again?  Wanting to change and actually being able to change are two different things.  And if not much has changed, can you endure going through the same kind of heartbreak again if your ex walks out of the relationship again?

How do you feel about yourself when you think about getting back into a relationship with your ex?
It's important to start with this question rather than how you feel about your ex.  Whether you're angry, sad, hurt, happy or glad that your ex wants to get back together again, pay attention to your gut feelings about this.  Aside from your initial feelings about making up, which can be exciting and sexy at first, what's your sense about what the relationship will be like for you after this initial stage?  

How do you feel about him or her?
During your healing process, your feelings might have changed about your ex and, possibly, about what you want from a romantic partner or relationship in general.  Aside from the anger and hurt, if you can look at your ex objectively, what are your feelings about being back in a relationship with your ex?  If you're still in love with your ex, put those emotions aside for the time being and assess what you think is best for you.

What was your part in the breakup?
This can be one of the hardest things to consider.  But whether you take your ex back or not, this is an important question to ask yourself because you don't want to repeat the same mistakes, whether it's with your ex or someone new.

Taking responsibility for your part in the breakup, even though it was your ex who walked out, is important for your own personal development.  This doesn't mean that you blame yourself for all of your ex's problems or all the problems in the relationship--just your part.  It also doesn't mean that you allow guilt to influence your decision.  Are there things you'd like to change about yourself?  If so, how do you plan to go about making these changes?

Take Your Time
If you have mixed feelings about getting back with your ex, take your time to consider your decision carefully.  Only you know how difficult it was to go through the breakup and what it took to get to the other side of this emotional crisis.  There are emotional risks in taking back your ex, especially if he or she has abandoned the relationship more than once.  Don't allow your ex's sense of urgency to cause you to make a hasty decision.

Also, be aware that loneliness and a fear that you might not meet anyone new could cloud your decision.  This isn't about settling out of fear.   It's about making the best possible decision for yourself based on what you know in your gut.

Getting Help in Therapy
Friends and family can be helpful in this process, but they might already have their own strong opinions about your ex and your former relationship.  You might find yourself either defending your ex if your loved ones try to convince you not to go back or defending your feelings about not going back if they're urging you to go back.

In this type of situation, there are usually few people who are close to you who can be truly objective.  So, it can be helpful to see a licensed mental health professional, who is objective and can help you sort through all of your feelings about whether or not to take your ex back without having to defend any particular feelings and without feeling ashamed of your feelings.  If you're unsure about what to do and you have mixed feelings about your ex, you owe this to yourself to put yourself first and get the help you need.

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

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 me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Stop Keeping Score in Your Relationship

Over time, keeping score in your relationship can have disastrous consequences.  A "tit for tat" mentality or, worse still, "upping of the ante" can lead to anger, resentment and the end of the relationship.  And, yet, so many couples do it.  They find it hard to resist blaming, finger pointing and saying, "I told you so!"

Keeping Score as a Habitual Way of Relating to Each Other
Often, when keeping score is an ongoing pattern in a relationship, each person waits for the other person to make a mistake so s/he can point it out.  There is a fair amount of contempt involved with doing this. And if this is the couple's predominant way relating, the relationship can devolve quickly.

Stop Keeping Score in Your Relationship

Keeping score can become a habit and, like any habit, it can be hard to break.  Before you say something that both you and your partner are going to regret, it's important to be able to stop, step back and ask yourself, "What am I trying to accomplish?  Is this going to make the situation better?"

Of course, this requires a cool head and a mature personality.  If you're able to stop yourself and reflect on what you're about to do, you'll soon realize that, by keeping score, not only are you showing contempt for your partner, whether you realize it or not, you're also trying to shame him or her.  Then, at some point, if this is the dynamic in your relationship, your partner will look for a way to shame you as well.  When you engage in this behavior, it's never ending.

Unfortunately, there are lots of couples who, rather than being bound together with love, are bound together by hate and anger.  You might ask yourself why two people would stay together if this is their bond.  But, when people are bound together by hate and anger, they often don't realize it.  They're too busy looking for the next opportunity to blame their partner than to stop and think about what's going on in their relationship.

Keeping Score and Your Family of Origin
Like many relationship dynamics, both positive and negative, many people internalize the keeping score mentality from what they observed at home when they were growing up.  If this is the case, on the face of it, it might not seem so bad to you because it's familiar.  But, as I mentioned earlier, it can ruin a relationship.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you recognize that you and your partner have a dynamic where you're keeping score and you're unable to change this dynamic on your own, you could benefit from couples counseling with a skilled  clinician who can help you develop better relationship and communication skills.

Getting help can make the difference between saving or losing your relationship.  Many couples, have successfully changed this dynamic, and you and your partner can too.

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

The Heartbreak of the On-Again/Off-Again Relationship

Several years ago, a friend confided in me that, in the past (before I knew her), she had been in an on-again/off-again relationship for two years.  The usual pattern to her relationship was that whenever "the going got tough," her boyfriend was gone.

His Pattern Was to Flee the Relationship When He Felt Overwhelmed
Without saying a word, when he felt overwhelmed by their relationship, he would load up the car and drive off to stay with one of his many family members around the country, leaving my friend to wonder and worry about his whereabouts and the future of their relationship.

After a few days or so, he would call her to let know where he was and to say he needed "his space" for a while.  My friend never knew how long "a while" would be or if having "his space" was a euphemism for the relationship being over.  When she asked him, he refused to define how long or if he felt the relationship was really over.  But one thing was clear:  It was always on his terms.  He needed to be in control.

The Heartbreak of the On-Again/Off-Again Relationship

The first few times this happened, my friend was, understandably, upset.  This type of situation would be difficult for most people, but having lost both of her parents as a child, she was especially sensitive to her boyfriend abandoning her whenever he felt overwhelmed.  And he felt overwhelmed often, including when my friend wanted to talk about where their relationship was headed.

After a while, it became obvious to my friend that her boyfriend regulated the intensity and intimacy of their relationship by all of this coming and going.  He used his departures as an emotional pressure valve.  When enough time had passed so that he felt some of the intensity had subsided, he would return, sometimes contrite, sometimes not.  For a while, whenever he returned, my friend said she felt she had to "walk on eggshells" and tiptoe around him so he wouldn't leave again.  She tried to talk to him about therapy, but he wasn't open to going to individual therapy or couples counseling.  Needless to say, it was a very challenging situation.

To make matters worse, as I mentioned, all of her boyfriend's coming and going triggered earlier abandonment issues for my friend, which soon made the relationship feel emotionally intolerable for her.  Several months after she began therapy, she felt she deserved a lot better than this, and she ended the relationship.

Not surprisingly, once she withdrew from the relationship, her ex pursued her like he never pursued her before, promising her that he would never run off again.  But my friend understood that, even though her ex might have had the best of intentions, it was obvious that he couldn't tolerate the emotional intimacy that is a natural part of being in an intimate relationship. And, despite his promises, she knew he would leave again when he felt emotionally overwhelmed due to his own unresolved emotional issues.

Fortunately, my friend never went back to that relationship or ever entered into another relationship with that dynamic.  She's now in a committed relationship with someone who is comfortable with emotional intimacy and he can handle the inevitable ups and downs that are part of all relationships.  And, she gave me permission to use her story, without using her name or any identifying information, because she thought it might be helpful to others.

As a psychotherapist, I've seen many clients who are involved in these type of on-again/off-again relationships with similar dynamics to the ones I've just described.  When there are children involved, it's especially damaging to their emotional health and well-being. Children need stability and consistency.  Young children are naturally egocentric and believe that if one of their parents leaves, it must be their fault.  Over time, feeling abandoned by a parent can lead to poor grades in school, behavior problems and drug and alcohol problems.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you're in an on-again/off-again relationship, you probably realize how damaging this is to your sense of self.  

Even if you don't have a history of early abandonment issues, this type o relationship can create intense anxiety and depression as you ride your partner's unpredictable emotional roller coaster.

Being in an on-again/off-again relationship, where your spouse or partner is in control, can leave you feeling powerless.  But you're not alone.  

Many people, both men and women, have developed the emotional wherewithal in therapy to get off the emotional roller coaster so they can live more fulfilling lives

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love: Is It Really Better The Second Time Around?

Is love really better "the second time around," as Frank Sinatra says in his song.  

As a therapist, who has worked with individuals and couples who have rekindled relationships with exes, I've seen couples who were able to successfully reconnect and work out their differences.  I've also seen couples who got back together after a breakup and tried to work out their differences, but they continued to have the same problems.  So, it all depends on the two people.

Love: Is It Really Better the Second Time Around?

Going Back into the Relationship the Second Time Around with Your Eyes Wide Open
When you go back into a relationship that ended because the two of you couldn't or wouldn't work out the problems, you're going back in (unless you're in denial) with your eyes wide open.  You both know what the problems were, how you tried (or didn't try) to work things out and that it resulted in a breakup.  You know what you're up against and, for whatever reason, you and your partner or spouse feel you have the wherewithal to overcome the problems this time.

Reasons Not to Get Back Together
People often get back together again because they still love each other.  It might not be that heady "in love" feeling they had for each other when they first met, before the problems started.  Usually, it's a more mature love, and the feelings are strong enough that each person feels it's worth the emotional risk to try again.  But there are also reasons not to get back together:
  • You're too afraid to move on and meet someone new.
  • You feel "the devil you know" is better than "the devil you don't know."
  • You're "use to" your ex and don't want to have to go out and meet someone new.
  • You heard your ex started dating someone new and you couldn't stand the thought of it.
  • You lack confidence to date again.
  • You feel you don't deserve anyone else.
  • You're afraid you'll never meet anyone else new.
  • You feel you should get back together again "for the sake of the kids."
I'm sure there are lots of other reasons not to get back together again, but these are some of the reasons I've heard from clients who mistakenly return to their ex, only to discover that nothing has changed.

Simply Saying "We're starting over again" Doesn't Solve Your Problems
If you and your spouse or partner had serious problems that led to your breakup, just saying, "Let's start over again" doesn't automatically resolve all your problems.  I know this might sound very simplistic, but I've heard couples in couples therapy tell me that they think they can just "put everything behind" them and "start over" without doing any work on their relationship.  It's not surprising that I hear from these same couples a few months later that they're still having the same problems as they did before the breakup.

Being in a relationship is not like playing a game where people call out, "Do over" and everything is erased.  You might want to "put everything behind" you, but that doesn't change the fact that there's a history of problems, and hurt, resentment and anger that led to the breakup.  Avoidance, in terms of working out these problems, isn't going to magically make them go away.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you weren't able to work out your problems the first time without couples counseling and you want to give the relationship another chance, you owe it to yourself and your relationship to get professional help this time.  

A skilled couples counselor, who is objective, can help you navigate through the difficult emotional problems in a way that's often not possible to do on your own.  

By participating in couples counseling you both can also learn relationship skills that you might not have had before and that might make the difference between your relationship succeeding or not this time.

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

I work with individuals and couples.

To find out more but 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.

Coping With Workplace Stress: 5 Things You Can Do to Reduce Your Stress at Work

I've been hearing more and more from clients and friends about how excessive work demands have been taking a toll on their stress levels.  With fewer employees, companies are expecting the remaining employees to pick up the slack and, often, ask them to take on  the duties of two or more former employees.  This often causes a lot of stress and fatigue, so that even when they're home with their loved ones, they're too tired and stressed out to spend quality time with them.

Coping With Workplace Stress

Consider the Consequences of Stress to Your Health and Personal Relationships
Before you sign on for extra work projects, it would be wise for you to consider the consequences of taking on this extra work and stress to your health and your personal relationships.  An optimal amount of stress (whatever is optimal for you personally) can help you to focus and accomplish tasks.  But when stress is excessive, as it usually is when you're taking on too many work tasks, it can compromise your immune system.

Over time, if you get little or no relief from the stress, it can cause you to develop stress-related illnesses like headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), high blood pressure, heart problems and other chronic illnesses.

5 Things You Can Do to Reduce Stress at Work
  • Go out for a short walk: This sounds so simple, but it can really make a difference to go out for a short walk (longer, if you can) to get away, even for 10 or 15 minutes from work stress.  Rather than having lunch at your desk and trying to do work, take a break and go out.  When you come back, you'll feel refreshed.
  • Take a nap at lunch time:If you have your own office where you can close the door, set an alarm for 20 minutes or half an hour at lunch time and take a nap.  Taking a nap in the middle of the day can do wonders to help you feel revived.  People who take a short nap during the day usually feel revived after their nap, and they can approach their work with more energy.
  • Listen to a guided meditation recording: There are so many different guided meditation recordings that you can download from the Internet.  I usually recommend that you set an alarm before you listen to the recording to make sure that you don't snooze away the rest of the day.  Guided meditations can help you to feel that you've gotten away for a while from your work environment, at least, on an emotional level.
  • Get up, stretch and breathe: Rather than sitting hunched over your desk the entire day, get up at least once every hour or so and stretch.  Even simple stretches can help to relax tense muscles so you feel less stressed out.  When we're very stressed out, we sometimes breathe in a very shallow way.  When  you get up to stretch, check out whether you're taking full, relaxing breaths when you breathe or if you're taking shallow breaths.  Make a conscious effort to take a few deep breaths to calm yourself and help you to relax.
  • Learn to say "no" when you can: This can be a tough one.  You know your boss and your work environment.  If there are times when you feel you can say "no" without jeopardizing your job, learn to say "no" at those times.  If you always accept extra assignments, the expectation will be that your boss can continue to overload you with extra work all of the time.

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