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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

How Trauma Affects Intimate Relationships

Emotional trauma can affect intimate relationships in ways that might be confusing or difficult to understand for both the trauma survivor as well as the partner or spouse of the survivor (see my articles: Overcoming Trauma With Experiential TherapyOvercoming a History Childhood Trauma That Impacts Adult Relationships,Before and After Psychological Trauma, How Past Psychological Trauma Lives on in the Present, and Untreated Trauma is a Serious Issue With Negative Consequences).


How Trauma Affects Intimate Relationships

How Trauma Affects Intimate Relationships
A person with a history of trauma can have one or more of the following symptoms:
  • A lack of interest or a decrease in physical and/or emotional intimacy
  • Emotional numbing and withdrawal
  • Ambivalence about the relationship
  • Difficulty trusting others, including loved ones
  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Self doubt
  • Compulsive behavior, including an eating disorder, substance dependency, compulsive gambling, sexual acting out, etc.
  • A decrease of interest or avoidance of social situations
  • An increase in arguments and problems finding resolutions to problems
  • An inability to talk about problems
  • Nightmares and/or problem sleep
Getting Help in Therapy or Couples Therapy
If you or your partner have been traumatized, it's important to understand that it's not about "being weak" or a matter of "snapping out of it."

These symptoms don't go away on their own.  They require help from a licensed mental health professional who specializes in trauma.

A trauma therapist can help the traumatized individual work through trauma, whether it's a one-time event or developmental trauma which occurred in childhood.

Without help, the traumatized individual can continue to spiral down, which might can lead to the demise of the relationship due to the trauma-related symptoms.

In addition, traumatized individuals often tend to unintentionally pass on their traumatic symptoms to their children.

There are effective forms of trauma therapy, including EMDR therapy and Somatic Experiencing which can help individuals to overcome trauma so they can lead more fulfilling lives as individuals and in their relationship (see my articles: What is EMDR Therapy? and Somatic Experiencing: Allow Yourself to Feel Your Sadness).

Getting help in a timely manner can make the difference between saving or ending your relationship.  

About Me
I am a licensed NYC trauma psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, Somatic Experiencing and Emotionally Focused therapist who works with individuals and couples (see my article: The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Therapy).

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

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.
















Dating: Why Do Some People Prefer to Text on Dating Apps Instead of Meeting in Person?

I've written several articles about dating and the early stages of being in a relationship (see my articles: Dating: Is It Time to Have "the Talk"?Dating Again in Your 40s, 50s, 60s and Beyond, Are You and Your Boyfriend on the Same Wavelength About Your Relationship?

Dating: Why Do Some People Prefer to Text on Dating Apps Instead of Meeting in Person?

In this article, I'm focusing on one of the biggest complaints I hear about dating apps, which is that there are many people who would rather just text endlessly than meet in person.  They might come across as pleasant and personable in their text messages, but when the subject of meeting comes up, they end of ghosting whoever they've contacting via text.

Among the people who are averse to meeting in person, both men and women seem to do it, and this becomes frustrating for people who actually want to meet in person and eventually get into a relationship.

Why Do Some People Prefer to Text on Dating Apps Instead of Meeting in Person?
Let's take a look at some of the possibilities as to why there are certain people only want to text:
  • They're Married or in a Committed Relationship: It will come as no surprise that many people are on dating apps, like Tinder or Bumble, are actually married or in a relationship, which they don't reveal.  They like to fantasize about meeting someone online, but they won't actually do anything about it because they want to remain in their relationship.  So, they will string potential dates along with endless texting and eventually ghost them.
  • They Just Want the Attention:  Some people are flattered that they can get so many people to "like" them on a dating app, but they're not interested in actually meeting in person.  Texting endlessly is enough for them. This is another example of people who like to string others along.
  • They're in an On-Again/Off-Again Relationship:  Similar to being married or in a committed relationship, the person who's in an on-again/off-again relationship uses the dating app when there are problems in the relationship knowing full well that they're going to be back in the relationship again.  It makes them feel good to know that there are other potential dates out there should their actually relationship end, but they have no intention of meeting in person for the time being.
  • They Can't Tolerate More Than a "Texting Relationship:" On their profile, they say they want to be in a relationship but, in reality, being in a real relationship is more than they can tolerate emotionally, so they engage in endless texting because they like the attention and the feeling that they're connecting with someone that "likes" them enough to text back.
  • They're Ambivalent About Actually Meeting Someone: As opposed to people who know from the outset that they have no intention of meeting anyone in person, the person who is ambivalent about dating can't make up his or her mind about whether they want to actually meet someone or not.  They give mixed messages in their texts or calls and, often, ultimately decide that they're not ready to meet and disappear.
  • They're Afraid to Meet People in Person: Similar to the people who are ambivalent, the people who are fearful of meeting in person--even in a public place--feel comfortable texting, but meeting in person is too much for them to handle.  So, when the other person tries to get them to make a plan, they disappear.
  • They're Scammers: Unfortunately, are a fair amount of scammers on dating apps.  They often steal other people's pictures (often models or actors) and set up a fake profile.  They will lavish a lot of attention on you with texts, but they always seem to have a "reason" why they can't meet in person.  Usually these people come on strong and like to say that the two of you are already in a relationship--even though you haven't even met yet. Some people fall prey to this manipulation because they're lonely and an online "relationship" is better than no relationship to them.  Eventually, if you continue to engage with these scammers, they will try to manipulate you into giving them money ("My mother needs a medical procedure, but we don't have the money.  Can you wire me the money and I'll pay you back?").  Unsuspecting people have been bilked out of thousands of dollars this way.  Even after these scams are reported to the dating app, the scammers are hard to track down.  They close out their accounts and set up another fake account.

How to Deal With People Who Only Want to Text on Dating Apps
  • After a few texts and a phone call or two, if the person is unwilling to make a plan to meet in person, you might be dealing with someone who only wants to text.
  • It might seem like they're paying a lot of attention to you if they're texting you 10 times a day and asking you about the minutea of your day ("Did you sleep well?" and "How is your day going?"), but they're actually wasting your time.
  • If you can't get someone to make a plan to meet in person after a week or two, wish them well and move on.  There are plenty of people who actually want to meet and eventually get into a relationship without you wasting time on people who only want to text.
  • Whatever you do, don't send money to people who pretend that they're in a relationship with you even though you've never met in person.
  • If you do get into a situation where the other person texts you and eventually ghosts you, as frustrating and disheartening as this might be, don't take it personally.  After all, they don't know you, so it's not you that they're rejecting.  Whatever is going on with them is about them.
About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypntherapist, EMDR, AEDP and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

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

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.

















Monday, February 10, 2020

The Psychological Benefits of Storytelling

Storytelling has become a popular activity at many venues in New York City as well as around the world.  Not only is it popular, it's also a powerful form of communication since ancient times, and there are many psychological benefits to telling and listening to stories.

The Psychological Benefits of Storytelling

The Psychological Benefits of Storytelling
  • We are hardwired for storytelling.  We tend to think in terms of stories, and it's how we make meaning of our lives. 
  • Listening to a story engages the imagination, and the brain processes the images and emotional experiences related to the story in the same way as it processes "real life" lived experiences.
  • Whether the stories are about ancient myths, archetypes, relationships, overcoming adversity, or personal transformation, to name only a few storytelling topics, storytelling has a psychologically integrative function for the individual telling the story as well as for the listener.  
  • Storytelling engages on an emotional level in a collaborative way as the storyteller makes him/herself emotionally vulnerable by telling a personally meaningful story. As the audience listens to the story, they often open up in an empathetic way to the storyteller and the story. 
  • In developing and narrating the story, the storyteller discovers psychological connections from the past to the present and from one part of the self to other aspects of the self. 
  • Storytelling helps to connect us in universal ways as the listener identifies with the storyteller and discovers aspects of him/herself in the story.  A personally meaningful story often transcends the boundaries of race, gender, age and other identities that often divide people.
  • From an early age, most people are raised on stories. Young children love stories and they will often ask to hear the same story over and over again because it's soothing. Adults also find stories to be emotionally engaging.  There is also something soothing about anticipating and experiencing the structure of a story with a beginning, middle and an end. The audience anticipates that there will be an arc to the story with a resolution at the end, which is so comforting and satisfying to the mind.

Storytelling and the Moth
The Moth, a nonprofit group based in New York City, was founded in 1997 and it's dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling.  Currently, the Moth hosts storytelling events all over the United States and the world.  

The poet and novelist, George Dawes Green, and the original Moth storytellers wanted to recreate the atmosphere of telling and listening to stories on the porch where moths buzzed around in the evening light.  They began by calling themselves "the moths" and the organization has grown substantially from its origins more than 20 years ago.

In 2009, the Moth began a popular and critically acclaimed podcast and established a national public radio show. 

Since its inception, thousands of people have told their personal stories at the Moth all over the world.

My Storytelling Experiences
I came to the storytelling experience through improvisation.  If anyone had told me, even just a few years ago, that I would be involved in improv or storytelling, I would have been shocked.  

But when a trainer told me about his experiences with improvisation and on the same day I received an email from my professional social work listserv about Applied Improvisation as it relates to clinical social work, I was more than just a little curious about the timing of this interesting synchronicity.

As a psychotherapist for over 20 years, I listen to many clients' stories and, when I think it's clinically appropriate, I also tell them stories that I think would be helpful to their process.

Applied improvisation has helped me to improve my therapeutic skills with clients.  It has also enhanced my creativity.  And aside from these great benefits, improv and storytelling are fun!  

How You Can Get Involved With Storytelling
There is an art and a craft to storytelling that you can learn.  

If you live in New York City, there are many schools and individual storytellers that teach storytelling.

The Magnet* is a school in New York City where you can learn improv and/or storytelling in a collaborative and supportive environment.  

Being in a classroom where other people are developing their storytelling skills and presenting stories about their transformative experiences has been one of the most moving experiences for me.

Over time, the students in the class develop trusting relationships with each other, which is fostered by the instructor, in order to be vulnerable enough to tell their stories and get feedback.  

At the conclusion of the storytelling class series, the class puts on a show where each storyteller gets up in front of an audience to tell his or her personal story.

There is an energetic flow between the storytellers and the audience, and this, in itself, is transformative for both the storyteller and the audience.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

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

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.



*Disclaimer: I am not on the faculty of the Magnet and I receive no compensation or benefit of any kind from them for mentioning them in this article.