Is It Too Late for Therapy?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: my daughter is 12 years old and since she was 3 she has been living with my mom and grandma. she doesnt live with me because I was and still am irresponsible and selfish. she never sees her dad and didnt meet him untill she was 10 years old. I live somewhat close by my mom and try for every chance to see her but I know I messed up and I live with the guilt everyday and now that I have deceided that I want her with me its too lat she has already settled in where shes at and shows no signs of wanting to live with me. she is very moody and hard to talk to, is it her age or is it because her parents arn’t in her life full time?
I have mental disorders as you may have guessed, long term depression, borderline personality disorder, and substance abuse, my dad died in an accident when I was 3 so I have been in and out of therapy my whole life.so my question is this:is it too late for my daughter to get thru her childhood with therapy so she can live a normal life? all odds are against her and she should have been put in therapy when I left 9 years ago, but is now too late?

A. Your letter reminds me that there are many, many ways to love a child. In your case, the way you have loved your daughter is to have her live with relatives and to try to be as present and as helpful as you can be given all that you are dealing with.
The answer to your question is that it is never too late to do therapeutic work. I’m sure your daughter has lots of questions about her life and the choices that you and other adults in her life have made. Now that she is 12, she is probably noticing that her life is different from that of many of her friends. She may be wondering if any of it is her fault. She may be having questions that she is afraid to ask you and her grandmother and greatgrand. I think introducing her to a counselor is a fine idea. The therapist will be able to evaluate her and determine whether therapy will be useful. You might also want to consider some family therapy to help you, your mom and grandma, and your daughter sort out how best to be supportive of the girl as she enters adolescence.
I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Oct 2006

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2006). Is It Too Late for Therapy?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2006/10/09/401/