How do I get the most out of therapy regarding issues with my mother?
September 21, 2011 9:13 AM Subscribe
Ok, therapy. Now what?
posted by Run.Faster to Human Relations (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Over the past few years, I have had a difficult time balancing expectations between my mother and wife. Basically, my mother feels that I have neglected her and my family by not spending enough time with them, not been appreciative enough for things she has done for me and my wife, and have made my wife's family a priority over my family. These feelings in my mother have resulted in angry outbursts, cold interactions, and general hostility towards me and my wife. For my wife's part, she has felt that we have made an effort to include my family, that our efforts have failed, and that continuously trying to meet my mother's expectations is pointless. My wife has also been disappointed in my inability to stand up to my mother and expressed concern on the effect all of this has on our marriage. My wife and I have been seeing a couples counselor to talk through these issues, and we have both found that relatively helpful. I have viewed the couples counseling as very surface-level, however, and we have not really attempted to fix any deeper-level issues at play here.
Individually, throughout all of this, I have felt incredibly weak, sad, confused, and anxious about any interactions involving my mother and wife. These feelings culminated in what I guess would be described as a panic attack not so long ago.
Based in part on many comments I have read here, therapy seemed to be in order. I received a referral from the couples counselor to a psychologist, who I have met with once so far. I felt comfortable talking and opening up to the psychologist, but I am somewhat apprehensive about anyone's ability to improve the situation. The counselor asked towards the end of the session "Realizing we can't change your mom or your wife, what do I hope to get out of our sessions?" I responded that I wanted to feeling stronger about the decisions I made and less anxious in dealing with this conflict. Quite frankly, I just want the situation to be "better", and have my doubts about that being possible.
My questions are:
1. How do I get the most out of therapy in this situation?
2. How do I know if therapy is "working"?
3. How do I know if therapy is "not working" and not worth the time and the cost?
4. Anyone with general advice or experiences similar to mine, your insight is much appreciated.