How Do I Get My Mom to Go to a Therapist?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have come to believe, over time, that my Mom has a severe anxiety disorder. I have a very close relationship with my Dad, and after speaking with him, we’ve come to understand that her disorder is so imbedded within her that she is in complete denial. I sense that she has two personalities: one that is compulsive, and one that is lazy. When the two are in conflict, she gets SO angry.

I have tried many, many times to suggest she speaks to a therapist. As I’ve grown, I have begun to phrase it in a way that we could go together. I am away at school and rarely am home, but when I am home, it’s a battlefield of arguments.

She absolutely refuses to seek help. I know she is in need of speaking to a professional. How do I get her to do so? Thank you.

A: The short answer is that you can’t get her to go. All you can do is suggest that it would be helpful to your relationship with her and that she might feel better if she had someone to talk to about how to manage her anger. Your dad should be taking the lead on this, not you. He’s her partner. You’re her child. Further, you are away at college most of the time. I don’t know why your home is a battlefield. There’s nothing to argue about. She’ll either take the advice or she won’t. It’s up to her and your dad.

What you can do is see a counselor yourself. You need to learn some new skills for managing your disappointment in her and for dealing with whatever guilt you carry that you can’t fix her. You also need some support for getting out of the triangle with your two parents. It probably makes your mom feel that her family is ganging up on her. That’s not going to help the situation any.

I’m sorry that your mom is a source of concern for you. But it’s more important to be effective than to be right. To do that, you need to get out of the argument, find times when you can enjoy your mother, and take care of your own issues.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Jan 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). How Do I Get My Mom to Go to a Therapist?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/01/16/how-do-i-get-my-mom-to-go-to-a-therapist/