Mother’s therapist won’t see me

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My mother is seeing a therapist and told me at the beginning that the therapist suggested I come to sessions with her in order to help better our relationship. I haven’t gone yet and over the holidays we had a falling out over a small issue which she has blown out of proportion. Now she tells me she takes all my emails (we email back and forth) to the therapist and tells me he says all these neagtive things about me. I asked her if we could go see him together and now she says he thinks we shouldn’t.

I called him myself and asked him if I could consult with him on my own and he said yes. Later after meeting with her again, he called me and told me “his bosses” told him it wouldn’t be a good idea to see me because of “his entanglement with my mother”. This all sounds like b-s to me, but I don’t know if this is normal or not. What are your thoughts? I want to have a good relationship with my mother but she is all about control and seems to be manipulating everything and everyone in a way that opposes a good relationship. She wants everything on her terms or nothing. What can I do? And what’s going on with this “therapist”?

A: I’m sure this is very, very frustrating. The fact is that your mother is an adult and, as such, she has the right to confidentiality with her therapist. Sadly, you can’t know if what she is telling you about her therapist’s opinions are the truth or if she is shoring up her own angry ideas by attributing them to her therapist.

It would not be unusual for a supervisor to tell a therapist to stay out of a family argument while he tries to help his patient sort through her own issues. Think of it this way: If he comes down on your side in the argument (or if your mother even interprets it that he is doing so), he’s lost your mother’s trust and has no way to help her. Before you conclude that the therapist is being inappropriate, I suggest you give it a little time. See whether your mother starts shifting in her behavior and thinking.

Meanwhile, you could either voicemail or send the therapist a note saying that you understand the rules of confidentiality so you won’t push for a meeting. You could also say that you hope he understands that you very much want a relationship with your mother and that part of her illness seems to be a need to present herself as a victim. Let him know that you are open to a family meeting when he thinks your mom is ready.

Then, I’m afraid, all you can do is be patient. The good sign is that your mother is going to see a therapist at all. On some level she knows she needs help. Hopefully, the work in therapy is going to pay off and you’ll finally have the relationship with her you’d like to have.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Feb 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). Mother’s therapist won’t see me. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/02/06/mothers-therapist-wont-see-me/