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Friday, March 27, 2020

Undoing Aloneness: Staying Socially Connected Even Though We're Physically Disconnected

Health experts have stressed the importance of remaining physically distant from each other by at least 6 feet during the COVID-19 crisis, but this doesn't mean that we can't find ways to be socially connected in other ways.  In fact, due to our need for meaningful connections with others, our overall health and psychological well-being depend on us being able to form these connections with our loved ones.  As part of my effort to undoing aloneness with my clients, I'm doing online therapy sessions (see my article: Emotional Support During the COVID-19 Crisis and

Online Therapy Sessions: Undoing Aloneness During the COVID-19 Crisis 

Expriential Therapy vs. Traditional Psychotherapy
AEDP, which was developed by Diana Fosha, Ph.D., stands for Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy, emphasizes the importance of "undoing aloneness" as part of healing trauma.

As a trauma therapist, I know that psychological trauma isn't just about a traumatic event or series of events that occurred.

What often makes traumatic events harmful is that the individual who experienced the trauma often went through it alone (see my article: Experiential Therapy and the Mind-Body Connection). 

In AEDP, the experience of going through a traumatic event feeling emotionally alone is often referred to as "unbearable aloneness." This doesn't mean that there weren't other people around at the time.

There might have been family members or other loved ones around during traumatic events, but the person who experienced the trauma often felt alone, misunderstood, emotionally invalidated or "invisible" to others (see my article: Growing Up Feeling Invisible and Emotionally Invalidated)

So, as an experiential therapist who uses AEDP, EMDR therapy, clinical hypnosis and Somatic Experiencing, I strive to be a supportive and an interactive presence with my clients so they feel that I'm resonating with them in their therapy sessions in a meaningful way (see my article: Experietial Therapy: Why Having Insight and an Understanding of Your Problems Isn't Enough).

The old tradtional way of working with clients where therapists were expected to be "abstinent and neutral" in their engagement with clients doesn't work.  This is especially true for clients who have experienced traumatic events.

Since they usually went through their traumatic experiences feeling alone, unheard and unseen, it's crucial that they don't experience a replication of these experiences in their therapy.

Experiential therapy tends to be a "bottom up" therapy vs. traditional talk therapy, which tends to be a "top down" therapy (see my article: Experiential Therapy: What's the Difference Between Top Down and Bottom Up Therapy?

Experiential therapists not only convey a positive regard for clients--they also try to resonate with clients and let the clients know that they're there for them in ways that clients have a "felt sense" of in their sessions.  In other words, clients, who have experiential therapists, usually feel their therapist's caring and positive feelings towards them.

For many clients, who experienced more traditional forms of therapy, this might be a new experience.  However, most of them find it a welcome experience where they no longer feel isolated in their emotional pain.

As I mentioned earlier, since in-person therapy sessions aren't possible during the COVID-19 crisis, I am now providing online therapy sessions on Zoom on a confidential platform.  Athough we cannot be in the same room together, we can still feel connected with each other online, and many clients have expressed that they're surprised at just how connected they feel in their online sessions.

What Can You Do to Achieve Physical Isolation and Social Connection?
Being physically distant from your loved ones can be very challenging, especially if you live alone.

I prefer the term "physical isolation" rather than "social isolation."  I find the term "social isolation" to be somewhat of a misnomer in terms of what's possible during this time.

Whether you connect via online services like Zoom, Skype, Facetime or other online platforms, being able to see and connect with your friends and loved ones can make all the difference in undoing your feelings of aloneness.

Some people are organizing book club meetings, comedy groups, improv groups, storytelling events or other social events online to create a feeling of community and a feelng of connectedness, which is so important now.

If you don't have access to online services, phone calls are the next best thing.  Last night I received a call from a relative that I haven't spoken with in a while.  As soon as I heard her voice, I felt myself transported back to our times together when we were children.  And, despite the current crisis, we were able to talk and laugh about some our memories together.

Just knowing that she was thinking about me and cared enough to call really made me feel loved and cared about in a special way, especially since we share a family history that goes back to when we were children.  This is a special relationship, and I was glad to hear that she and the rest of the family there are all doing well.

I've also maintained contact by phone and online services with friends and colleagues and this has made a difference in undoing the aloneness of this time.

Getting Help in Therapy
During this crisis, as I mentioned, I'm providing online sessions through Zoom.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, rather than trying to get through it by yourself, you can contact a licensed psychotherapist who is providing online services.

Your overall health and psychological well-being can be negatively affected during this time, so reach out for help from a licensed mental health practitioner sooner rather than later.  You'll be glad that you did.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP and Somatic Experiencing therapist (see my article: 

I work with individual adults and couples (EFT couple therapy).

I'm currently providing online sessions during the current COVID-19 crisis.

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.





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