“Should I Take My Mother to Therapy ?” Here’s What Can Happen & What You Can Learn

Worn out, and exhausted from the endless back and forth, you are desperate for a 3rd party to help you navigate your relationship with Mom.

You ask yourself, “Should I take my mother to therapy?”

You think-

 if she won’t listen to me, she will surely listen to an authority figure.

 She will open up to a professional whose job it is to help her, won’t she?

Makes sense… right?

And quite possibly- it will help. In the safety of a therapist’s office, you will feel free to open up, and Mom will drop her defensiveness.

(Just a reminder- I’m a therapist, and I believe in therapy’s effectiveness.)

When you are wondering, “Should I take my mother to therapy?”- keep the following in mind.

Personal observation-

In my 30-plus years of counseling women with difficult mothers, a few have had a successful outcome from therapy. The rest come away frustrated.

But, however it goes,  You CAN learn tons about your relationship that you can use. Information is always empowering- so stick with me. I will show you how.

Let’s start with the best-case scenario- When it goes well!

In cases where therapy has been helpful, the problems usually stem from a specific issue or set of issues- sexuality, familial expectations, cultural or generational expectations that are changing and in flux. Let’s say you have an otherwise good relationship, feel supported and understood, and you all have hit a pothole, a bump in the road. Mom could have a blind spot and is truly unaware of how she is coming across. Or you could be stuck in the child role and have not felt comfortable standing up for yourself.

  Bottom line-

When the relational foundation is good and strong, therapy can be a great venue for ironing out those differences and moving past them.

If everyone is genuinely open to feedback, you and Mom can have a good chance of untangling the issue in psychotherapy and getting back on a good footing.

If, however, Mom has a personality disorder or is high trait in a disorder, the prognosis is much bleaker. Taking mom to therapy can backfire and backfire spectacularly.

Watch this video to see how this plays out-

What’s likely to happen if this is the case-

The hard-to-handle, defensive Mom will rarely, if ever, enter therapy truly open to getting help.

Because her entire MO (or defensive structure) at the core of her personality is deflecting blame and finding fault in other people, she will see therapy as a proving ground, and she must come out on top.

Anything less, she experiences as a defeat.

That’s how she has survived (psychologically) so far. At least in her mind, that is…

So, IF, and that’s a big IF, she ever darkens the door of a therapist’s office, she will most likely do so with one of 2 objectives-

a) to prove she is the victim of your unfair attack

b) to prove the therapist wrong

If Mom is personality disordered, chances are… she will come out of the session declaring victory, say the therapist either sided with her or alternatively that the therapist is an idiot/doesn’t know what she is talking about.

In doing so, she will miss the point of therapy entirely. And you may be devasted- your last hope dashed. 

Sadly, if the defenses that make her difficult are that impenetrable, she can not enter into the kind of therapeutic relationship that it takes to change-

And what is that? You need to know-

In order for therapy to be effective, both parties must have the willingness to be vulnerable, transparent, and reflective.

That’s a pretty substantial premise. Not everyone enters therapy with that attitude or ability.

2nd scenario-

Mom gets into therapy, but it doesn’t seem to be working. You don’t know if mom’s telling the truth or if the therapist is pushing her hard enough. You wonder if you should intervene.

Something to keep in mind-

Even if Mom gets into therapy, this doesn’t mean she will change. I know that’s a tough pill to swallow- but it’s true.

In this video, I explain how your mother’s therapist has only as much leverage as your mother gives her.

In a nutshell- personality-disordered mothers rarely change, and if they do, it takes a very long time.

It isn’t hopeless, but I wouldn’t put my life on hold waiting for Mom to change.

Okay, okay, I’ll bet you are feeling pretty bummed. But stay with me here- all is not lost. You are an adult, and as such, you have choices. Never lose sight of that.

 The good news is that no matter how it goes, you can learn something important.

So important, it can change your life if you let it.

Stepping up as an adult instead of the Good Daughter, you can accept that Mom may not have the interpersonal skills to meet you halfway.

And while this is sad, and disappointing, when you can face the truth, you can stop wasting your time hoping Mom will change.

Whatever happens- this is data. Data you need as an adult daughter. Data you can use. Not against Mom, but for you.

So when asking, ” Should I take Mom to therapy”? Remember, whatever the outcome, you can benefit from an informed, thoughtful and empowered approach.

You can make the changes you need to make to take control and live the life you were born to live.

You can do it. I can help you.

Do you relate?
If so, here are some ways I can help on your journey from Good Daughter to Empowered Woman:

Do you have The Good Daughter Syndrome? Take the Quiz (It’s Free)

Read the Introduction and Chapter 1 of The Good Daughter Syndrome – Awaken From It. Break Free of It. Heal From it. …for Free- Go here! 

Watch & Learn Video Course Practical Strategies for Dealing with a Narcissistic, Borderline, or Difficult Mother That Work Tips honed from working with daughters of difficult mothers for 30 years, as a psychotherapist.

What Kind of Good Daughter Are You? Conflicted? Independent? Obedient? Take this (Free) Quiz

Consult with Katherine- Private Coaching – When it’s time to tell your story.

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