Expert Advice

How can I mend a broken heart?

When suffering from a broken heart, your mind is jammed with memories, self doubts, and hopes about the future.

How can I mend a broken heart?
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When a relationship ends, you may idealize your former partner. Talk therapy can help you understand the relationship from several perspectives, and see how past issues may have been triggered and how they might be keeping you from healing.
TREATMENT: With a therapist's help, you'll begin to understand what happened by answering questions about the relationship. You'll get a better handle on yourself and your former partner, which will help you feel more in control. Increasing your awareness about your issues and those of your former partner—and being able to express your thoughts and emotions freely—helps ease the pain. You and the therapist can decide how many 45-minute sessions will help.
EXPERT TIP: Remove pictures or objects that are painful reminders of the relationship. Take a break from dating. Instead, spend time with friends who can bring you back to reality if you start to idealize the relationship. There's no easy way to mourn. Like a broken bone, a broken heart needs time to heal.
—Marc Sholes, L.C.S.W., psychotherapist in New York City

Animal therapists use trained animals, such as dogs, cats, and even horses, to help you process grief, loss, and sadness. The unconditional love of animals gives you back the connection you've lost.
TREATMENT: First, you visit the dog or cat at the office, or, if you're using a horse, at a stable. Then, your therapist helps you establish a healing connection by encouraging physical and verbal contact, which helps you feel loved and accepted and allows you to open up to the grieving you need to work through. Sessions of animal therapy usually last about an hour; talk to your therapist about how many sessions you need.
EXPERT TIP: Work with your own pet or arrange to work with the pet of a friend or relative. Give yourself enough time to make a connection and feel nurtured. Don't dismiss feelings of grief prematurely, and be sure to continue with as many of your activities as possible.
—Stephen Sideroff, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist and clinical director of Moonview Sanctuary in Santa Monica, Calif.

When suffering from a broken heart, your mind is jammed with memories, self doubts, and hopes about the future. Hypnosis helps you calm down, tone down intense emotions, and reload a positive program.
TREATMENT: During your first session, the therapist will listen carefully to your story then explain how hypnotherapy works. Once you're under hypnosis, the therapist will suggest things to help you think back to when you were feeling confident. Outside of therapy, these suggestions will stay with you, helping you operate in a new, less heartbroken way. Brainscan research indicates that hypnosis reduces signals in the emotional parts of the brain. When you receive a suggestion under hypnosis, you respond from your left frontal lobe, the logical part of the brain.
EXPERT TIP: Ask your hypnotherapist for instruction on self-hypnosis. Focus on growth and calmness. When getting into new relationships, be clear about your intentions and what you're experiencing. Apply the lessons from the past as you move forward.
—David Wark, Ph.D., president of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis