Marriage & Family Therapy
Support For Individuals, Couples, & Families
Where being different is always welcome!
Every individual is born with a unique set of instructions on the inside. Most of us are not aware of this gift. Some of us know, but are terrified to make the journey. Some of us know and refuse to make the journey. My life purpose is to support any person who chooses to make the journey. I will guide you on the path to your Essential Insight!
Couples Therapy exists to help distressed couples attempt to make significant changes in their relationship. Having worked with couples for over 35 years, I have recognized patterns that present themselves at most couples’ initial session. It is not surprising that the majority of couples I have worked with enter into the therapeutic process when they have reached the breaking point and one or both parties have left the relationship emotionally.
Family Therapy helps family members to reduce stress and conflict by improving the dynamics, communication skills and interactions between family members. The framework of family therapy differs from the structure of Individual therapy. Where individual therapy helps with issues and problems within the client, family therapy adjusts the problems or patterns within the family system.
Who is Dr. Michele Tofany EDD, LMFT
My name is Dr. Michele Tofany EDD, LMFT. I received my doctorate degree from the University of Rochester. I have 35 years of experience as a private practice psychotherapist working with children, adolescents, adults, seniors and couples and families.
I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the State of New York.
Telehealth and Videotherapy
Essential Insight uses telehealth and videotherapy when necessary to connect with clients digitally to enhance the therapy sessions.
Psychological Trauma Treatment
Trauma is an emotional response to a devastating event.
Some of the causes of trauma include:
Life changing Illnesses or injuries
Death of someone close
Witnessing violent acts or crimes
Victims of crime
Some common relationship issues:
Conflict with partner’s family
Loss of love for partner
Sexual dysfunction is the repetitive problems with sexual desires, response, orgasm, erectile dysfunction and physical or emotional pain.
Sexual dysfunction can be caused by a long list of physical issues, psychologic or social issues or substance abuse.
Both males and females can suffer with sexual dysfunction.
Abuse (physical, sexual and emotional)
Recurrent mistreatment of a person or an animal involving cruelty or violence.
The types of abuse include physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, verbal abuse, digital abuse, abuse of power and neglect. Children, adults, elders and animals can be victims of abuse.
It is normal for individuals to experience feelings of sadness, emotional pain and depression when dealing with losses, crisis or life challenges and struggles.
When the feelings of sadness and pain escalate and intense feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness interfere with living one’s life, the depression may have progressed to clinical depression.
Clinical depression can also have physical symptoms including but not limited to joint pain, digestive problems, sleep disturbances or appetite changes.
Sexuality is uniquely personal and covers a broad spectrum of sexual orientations. Sexuality is the part of person’s identity that provides understanding of sexual attractions and feelings we experience toward other people.
There are several types of sexual orientations people can choose to identify with.
Heterosexual/straight orientated individuals are attracted to people of the opposite sex or gender.
Homosexual/gay orientated individuals are attracted to people of the same sex or gender. Originally, the word homosexual referred to only males over time the term evolved to include both genders.
Lesbian orientated individuals are attracted to people of the same sex or gender. The term refers to females only.
Bisexual orientated individuals are attracted to people of both sexes and genders.
Pansexual orientated individuals are romantically and sexually attracted to people of any sexy, gender or sexual identity.
Polysexual orientated individuals are romantically and sexually attracted to people of many sexes, genders or sexual identities.
Asexual orientated individuals have NO sexual attractions for any sex, gender or sexual identities.
I have worked clients of all direct types of sexual orientations including transgendered individuals. Orientation is not choice. It is a person’s location on the sexual identity spectrum. No individual choose his/her sexuality, he/she identifies with it.
How you attach to other people in adult relationships replicates how you were able to attach to people when you were a child.
There are four types of attachment styles:
Secure attachment – the individual does not fear rejection and is comfortable with intimacy in a relationship and exhibits no real fear of abandonment.
Avoidant attachment – the individual is uncomfortable with closeness and is avoidant of intimacy in relationships, preferring to be independent.
Anxious attachment – the individual is very insecure about relationships and wants extreme closeness and intimacy desiring to merge with other individuals
Disorganized attachment – the individual experiences high amounts of anxiety and high amounts of avoidance and as a result is extremely uncomfortable with closeness and intimacy and insecure about other people’s commitments. This style of attachment is associated with lack of trust.
Intimacy is not only sex, sexual relations or copulation. Intimacy is the closeness between two individuals in a relationship. Intimacy can occur in all types of relationship such as friendship, family member relationships or romantic relationships. Intimacy can also occur in a variety of settings. Not only is intimacy not limited to sexual relationships or physical relationships, but there are seven different type of intimacy.
Emotional intimacy occurs in a relationship when the individuals in the relationship feel safe enough to show each other their authentic selves without fear of judgment or rejection. The relationship is secure enough for the individuals to bring down their walls and allow each other to see their vulnerabilities.
Intellectual intimacy is the process of sharing one’s thoughts about what things and experiences are important to them, the things they are truly passionate about. The individuals in the relationship tell each other their favorite books, movies, music, artwork, poems songs or anything that means something to them.
Physical intimacy occurs when two individuals want to have physical closeness. Physical closeness is about the desire to be closer to the person referring to proximity not sex. An individual’s perception of the person makes them want to share physical space with them.
Aesthetic Intimacy occurs between two individual who have the same taste in music, theater, food, furnishings, art work or any things that demonstrate aesthetic compatibility.
Spiritual intimacy is one of the most difficult types of intimacy to achieve. This type of intimacy occurs when two individuals find significant meaning in their relationship. The moments where you realize that both of them share the same values, ethics, morality and human qualities.
Recreational intimacy is the type of intimacy that an individual can experience with several of their companions. Recreational intimacy occurs when individuals find that they have enough in common with each other that they invest in spending time together and truly enjoy the time they spend.
Sexual intimacy is achieved when individuals feel safe enough together to expose their bodies to each other, share their fantasies and sexual likes and dislikes to each other and perform sexual acts together. Sexual intimacy can occur among individuals without emotional intimacy being involved. Safety in sexual intimacy is achieved when the individuals involved are open and honest with each other.
Fertility issues relate to an individual or couple having problems getting pregnant. I work with individuals experiencing fertility issues and help them to manage the stress and emotions that challenges with fertility brings into their lives. I also perform psychological assessments required of gg donors and surrogates.
Addiction occurs when an individual becomes dependant on a substance, activity or other compulsion.
The dependency creates an enslavement to the substance activity or combustion and result in an individual’s life becoming unmanageable. Many individuals in our society have dependencies on alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, masturbation, food, work and other compulsions. The addictions can begin when an individual chooses substance, activity or compulsion to help them cope with life’s challenges rather the face the challenges.
Grief is the deep sorrow and pain that occurs when an individual loses someone. Our society does not deal with grief in a healthy manner. When someone in a person’s life is experiencing grief, most people try to make the individual “feel better” or “get on with life.” Grief is an appropriate response to losing someone, when an individual is grieving he/she needs to feel the painful emotions that accompany the loss, not suppress them potentially causing more severe emotional problems. Therapy is a safe place for someone to work through their grief. The acceptance and empathy the therapeutic relationship provides allows the individuals to resolve their issues at their own pace.
When an individual is experiencing a mood disorder, his/her mood becomes distorted and is incongruent with the individual circumstances impairing the individual’s ability to function.
Examples of mood disorders are: major depression, bipolar disorder, seasonal
affective disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a chronic condition that makes difficult for an individual to pay attention or control impulses. The condition begins in childhood and can continue for years or throughput life. It requires a medical diagnosis and can be treated but not cured.
Communication is to a relationship as a foundation to a house. Life presents people with many challenges, healthy immunization is the tool necessary if a couple wants to survive those challenges with their relationship intact.
Healthy communication involves active listening, dieting criticism, be gentle, ask open ended questions, stay calm, use I statements and show respect to each other.
Domestic violence is when one person abuses another person while both people are cohabitating domestically. Domestic violence can involve abuse of children, adults or elders. The abuse can be physical, emotional, psychological, verbal or sexual. If you think you are a victim of violence or abuse in your home, you may contact the National Domestic Violence HOTLINE. 1(800) 799-7233, 1(800)787-3224 (TTY).
Anxiety involves feelings of fear, riddled with intrusive thoughts or worries, which can be disabling.
The six types of anxiety are:
Generalized anxiety disorder – a disorder based on irrational fears concerning minor issues.
Panic disorder – sudden feelings of excessive panic that occur in situations that would not create fear in other people.
Phobias – excessive fear concerning a particular situation.
Agoraphobia – is an acute fear of public places that causes n individual to not leave home.
Obsessive compulsive disorder – individuals endure constant thoughts such as fear of losing control and committing violent, bizarre acts. To escape the horrible thoughts, an individual engages in rituals such as repetitive hand washing or continue checking on something.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – after individuals experience a terrifying event such as war, captivity, abuse or personal tragedy.
Individuals who have phobias experience extreme terror of or a revulsion to a certain situation.
Types of Phobias include:
Social phobia – social anxiety disorder
Agoraphobia – fear of public places
Nyctophobia – fear of darkness
Aerophobia – fear of flying
Acrophobia – fear of heights
Arachnophobia – fear of being touched
Claustrophobia – fear of confined places
Arachnophobia – fear of spiders
Victims of Crime
I have worked with victims of assault, homicide, rape and drive by shootings.
My Therapeutic Approach
When working with clients, I use an eclectic approach, which means that I am schooled in many theoretical orientations and have mastered an infinite number of skills. I draw from the knowledge I possess to adapt my approach to the person or people in front of me. I believe that the most important part of the therapy process is the relationship between the therapist and the client/clients. Building rapport and establishing a relationship based on acceptance, empathy, honesty, safety and trust with my clients is my first priority as the therapist. One of my innate skills is being non-judgmental. I am open to listening to any individual and not judging them. I assess behavior. I do not judge the person.
More than once, people I meet who know my career choice, have asked me how I can listen to people’s problems all day. I smile at them and tell them that is not what I do. My work is like a gardener. Together the client and I till the foundation of their life and plant the necessary seeds to help them grow in ways that increases their awareness and render them capable of facing their issues and healing themselves. I truly believe that being allowed to witness the therapeutic process unfold with my clients is an honor.
"I want you to get excited about who you are, what you are, what you have, and what can still be for you. I want to inspire you to see that you can go far beyond where you are right now."
~ Virginia Satir
"Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible - the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family."
~ Virginia Satir
"We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves."
"Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace."
"Love is a verb, not a noun. It is active. Love is not just feelings of passion and romance. It is behavior."
~ Susan Forward
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