Therapists in Chicago?
September 9, 2007 8:10 PM   Subscribe

Do you know of a good therapist in the Chicago/Evanston area? Specifically, one that may be particularly helpful with family issues. Or is a therapist even prudent?

My wife and I no longer know how to interact with her parents in a healthy way. We -- and seemingly they -- want to have a good and mutually supportive relationship. My wife especially doesn't want to lose touch with her younger siblings.

But, see, a month ago they ruined our wedding.

After a wonderful ceremony, the reception unraveled. After a joking, barely inappropriate speech by my best man (who implied my wife and I had napped together even early in our relationship), her parents were upset enough that asking her dad if he wanted to have the father-daughter dance soon led to a terse conversation in the middle of the reception where my wife was told by her parents that she was a horrible example for her siblings, that they were ashamed of her, etc, and that it would be no longer be appropriate for her father to dance with her.

Distraught and upset, we packed up and left and tried to forget about it over the honeymoon and as we've begun our life together over the past month.

Since the reception, every interaction with her parents has been deliberately polite and censored. Part of me wants to hold them accountable and feels that acting like it didn't happen discounts how harrowing it has been for my wife to suddenly -- and on such an important day in front of so many people -- feel like she no longer has their love. Part of me wants to stop talking to them altogether. They have apologized, though, and her father especially regrets his temper and hopes to somehow make things good again.

I am fucking pissed, but see the long term value of a good relationship with them (and her siblings). My wife is upset to the point where it bothers her to see our friend's wedding pictures, much less our own, but she doesn't know how to tell her parents how she feels about what they've done -- and to ensure they know they didn't then and don't now have a right to judge her or her actions.

Is a therapist a good idea for either my wife or my wife and I? We not only need help knowing how to interact with them (do we set up boundaries? facades?), but how to deal with what has essentially felt for my wife like losing her family, regardless of it being their fault. The story here is simply the most dramatic situation out of the many, many times my wife's mother has been stressed or upset enough to say untrue and very manipulative and hurtful things to my wife, who detests fighting so much she shuts down and is unable to stop the conversation.

Neither of us have ever gone to therapy, and know little about seeking it out and setting it up; even the most basic of advice might be helpful for us. Specific therapists to get in touch with wouldn't hurt either.

Thanks in advance, mefites.

If you have questions or need clarification, e-mail
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (6 answers total)
anon, I'm very sorry that this happened to you and your wife. I don't have a specific name of a therapist, but I can recommend the Family Institute at Northwestern which is located in Evanston. It sounds like this is more of a pattern of behavior than just the wedding incident and I think getting someone to coach you/your wife through how to change the relationship with her parents and establish boundaries is a great idea.
posted by jeanmari at 8:58 PM on September 9, 2007

For the very reasons you outline in your penultimate paragraph, therapy is indeed a good idea; your instincts are right.

You will no doubt get specific recommendations (I have none; the only one I am familiar with is mostly retired), but I would start by looking to see which counselors are covered by either of your workplaces' insurance plans.

Also, either of your employers may offer, separate from your insurance, something commonly called an Employee Assistance Plan, which might offer either minor levels of therapy over the phone, or more appropriate in this case, additional recommendations.

I also was slightly alarmed to hear you say that your wife shuts down in arguments. If she doesn't fight at all, that's a safety valve that's supposed to be open that's shut, and therapy could hopefully teach her how to be comfortable in those types of circumstances.
posted by WCityMike at 8:59 PM on September 9, 2007

Or is a therapist even prudent?

After what you've described, even the most therapy-averse would probably benefit from a good therapist.

Her parents sound controlling, manipulative, childish, and cruel --- shockingly so --- and I can imagine your wife probably has other issues arising out of her relationship with them. I mean, people don't just become mind-blowingly cruel out of nowhere on their daughter's wedding night.

And what they did really seems beyond the pale. I'm not sure I would want people like that in my life.
posted by jayder at 9:02 PM on September 9, 2007

A bit out of the way in Glen Ellyn, but you might try Alcorn and Allison. (Full disclosure, one of the is my best friend.)
posted by lazywhinerkid at 12:58 AM on September 10, 2007

If you need to use insurance, start there - find out who in your area takes it. If you don't have (or don't want to use) coverage, then you might want to get recommendations from people you know - your family doctor may have connections. (My mom is a therapist, and gets quite a few referrals from doctors - she doesn't prescribe medicine, just does therapy. She's in Highland Park, actually - email me if you want her name/number. The sort of issue you're dealing with is definitely in her usual line of work.)

Also, my sympathy - that sounds awful.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:14 AM on September 10, 2007

One of the wonderful things about marriage is learning to support each other. The "through thick and thin" part is really true. Life is like that. I'm sorry you didn't get much time before you were thrown into the bonfire. That's hard.

I think both of you need to sort out your thoughts. And having a guide (a therapist) sounds like a good idea. I wish you the best. When you get through this you will really have a good foundation for the rest of your lives. Think of it as an opportunity (especially since neither of you didn't ask for this to happen).
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 10:26 AM on September 10, 2007

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