NYC Psychologist Offers In-Depth Insight on How to Cope with Family Estrangement

NYC psychologist Dr. Nadine Macaluso offers therapeutic advice for coping with family estrangement. “You are not obligated to be in a relationship with people who don’t treat you well and who don’t have your best interest in their heart and mind.”

Dr. Nadine Macaluso is a well-known therapist in the United States, with locations in New York and Los Angeles, and she has a Ph.D. in counseling and somatic psychotherapy. She is an expert in helping individuals heal from anxiety and depression due to attachment trauma, C-PTSD, and narcissistic abuse.


In her career spanning over a decade, Dr. Macaluso has come across hundreds of complex family estrangement cases. Family estrangements are a relational break from an individual’s family of origin or extended family members. Since our family of origin are the first people we attach to, the loss of that relationship is heartbreaking.
People are taught about the importance of family and how “the family comes first.” Dr. Macaluso states that this stigma causes so much shame when dealing with a case. Yet, family estrangement cases are more common than one would like to believe. She realized this during the four years she spent running a co-dependency group early in her training.


Estrangements can be generated by a young adult choosing no contact from a narcissistic parent. Conversely, some parents have to exercise tough love and cut off a child who is a drug addict. Sibling rivalry is also a foundation for siblings to stop speaking. Dr. Macaluso says that regardless of the estrangement type, they are world-altering because separations are not usually mutual. The abandoned family member is often crushed and confused, and the individual who decides to detach from their family is often traumatized by years of unhealthy dynamics.


When asked recently, Dr. Macaluso said that in an ideal world, family members in an estranged relationship should seek family counseling, but this is often not the case. However, due to the unbearable grief and pain caused by an estrangement, individuals inevitably go to therapy, albeit alone.


Dr. Nae, (as her patients call her), has helped families reconnect after lengthy separations and navigate this sensitive process. She has also offered guidance and validation to individuals struggling to separate from narcissistic parents. For individuals with no expectation of immediate resolution, Dr. Macaluso uses compassionate interventions to help them accept estrangement.


Dr. Nadine Macaluso, psychotherapy NYC, a licensed marriage and family therapist, is well aware of the relational dynamics, mindset, and stages of misunderstanding that lead to family estrangement. She says that people must ask themselves specific questions before or when separation occurs to process the relational trauma effectively.


What do you need to take care of yourself right now? What are the consequences of removing this person from your life? Conversely, what are the risks of keeping this person in your life? How much contact can you tolerate, and in what form? Dr. Macaluso suggests that self-reflection can help individuals get more clarity about their situations and take protective actions to process the estrangement delicately.


A key issue related to family estrangement is how it can be intolerable during certain times of the year. Ironically, most of these days revolve around celebrations, holidays, and family-centric occasions like Thanksgiving, weddings, Christmas, and birthdays.


Dr. Nadine Macaluso suggests that it is vital for people to accept that they will feel emotional at certain times or days of the year due to a lack of family connections, even if it was their choice to separate. Feeling sad, angry, or lonely is normal. Dr. Macaluso teaches her patients to feel their feelings, knowing that they will pass. Journaling is also an effective way to process painful emotions during such times.


Dr. Macaluso firmly believes that healing begins when people are ready to stop focusing on hatred, jealousy, and grudges towards others and more on self-love and healing. Dr. Nadine is often referred to as a mindful communicator and master connector because of her ability to help people connect with their inner self at a deeper level, the authentic self. The hard truth of life, as Dr. Macaluso says, is that “the only person we can fix or heal is ourselves.”



When it comes to family estrangement, Dr. Macaluso doesn’t shy away from acknowledging that as painful, challenging, and complicated as it can be, it can also be healthy, joyful, and liberating. Some people, even if they are family members, are not worthy of keeping ties with. At times, family estrangement is the need of the hour to protect one’s physical and emotional well-being.


Dr. Nadine Macaluso has been a part of a traumatic marriage herself. She is well aware of how and why estrangement is a necessity at times. As Dr. Nadine rightly puts it, “We all have to do what’s best and healthiest for ourselves. We did not choose to get born into our family, yet as adults, we do get to choose who we want to have in our lives.”


Dr. Macaluso goes on to say, “You are not obligated to be in a relationship with people who don’t treat you well and who don’t have your best interest in their heart and mind.”


It is the mantra to finding true happiness in life’s relationships, family, or otherwise.


Dr. Nadine has offices in Glen Cove, New York, and Hermosa Beach, California, and is currently offering online therapy only.

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