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It's me, meep.

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Is therapy about family helpful?



hi FJ folks,

I was wondering if anyone here has gone through therapy specifically to deal with processing how they grew up and the relationship with other family members (NOT family therapy). Did it go well? Did it help you? 

[possible TW for self-harm]
I'm beginning to realize that there were parts of my childhood that were really neglectful and somewhat abusive. I have a lot of issues with my mom because she doesn't know how to put up boundaries (for anything, ever). I felt my parents - despite being so strict and conservative - never protected me or even really "raised" me to do anything or function as a human being. I'm understanding that my parents will never change, talk about this, or accept that they've done anything wrong (and my mom does have a tendency to threaten suicide and become hysterical when someone brings up things she has done wrong). So I need to process everything on my own without any type of help or closure from them. My sister was very abusive to me and most of our family doesn't have contact with her anymore (even her own oldest son). I don't need help processing the fact that I cut contact (which if anything has been the best and most healing thing I've ever done for myself in my life) but I think I still need help processing how and why things just.....were the way they were. And then of course there was all the weird religious stuff, which didn't help and was very inconsistent and erratic. 

I think I need this to not only deal with the past, but also retain what relationship I have left with my parents, which still leave me frustrated and exhausted, even though I think from their perspective they'd say we have a great relationship and are very close; totally opposite from how I see things, but I am so careful to not send them off the deep end. I feel like I walk on eggshells in my life. 


I've never been to therapy before and I don't know if it will help me. I don't know how it works. Do I go to a specific therapist? Do I walk in and say, "Yes, hello, I need help with dealing with my childhood and dealing with my parents now?" Or do they ask questions? 

[This is not for now as I have approx. $0 money; this is for a hopeful later date when I'm actually a functioning adult.]

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I'm biased but I think Therapy can help with anything. 

I've never gone to therapy specifically to deal with family stuff but it's been something that's come up a lot and always been helpful. For me having someone who was able to look at situations from a safe distance helped me to see relationships and dynamics better. It also helped to remind me that I am not responsible for other people's actions. I would definitely reccomend it. 

When you're ready I would start to think about what type of therapist you want generally (ie would you feel more comfortable with a male or female? If you're a member of a visible minority would you feel more comfortable with a therapist from a similar group? Does age matter?) Once you have this in mind you can start researching providers in your area. 

In my experience they will usually ask what prompted you to go to therapy and that's where you can start opening up about wanting to process those family relationships. This may even be asked on an intake form before you see them. Generally family stuff is a fairly common topic and unless you have some very specific unique family background you shouldn't need a specific "type" of therapist but you can always ask when making the appointment. 

Keep in mind it might take a few tries to find the right therapist! Good luck! 


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Posted (edited)

Siblings! ❤️ My mom was/is much the same way, and I'm just now beginning to seek therapy for it.

Edited by AmericanRose

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I'm seeing this as I'm bouncing around checking in. I have a thread in aytfj that talks about some of my recent mental health issues if you're interested...

Anyhow, most of my family isn't bad. My relationship with my dad is solidly estranged at this point. I tried again, recently after a long period of absence and it didn't work out.

He was present but his own issues led him to be rather emotionally/psychologically abusive.

I haven't really worked on that in therapy.

What I need in therapy at this point in my life is to work on my PTSD and only some of that relates to childhood.

I can echo what LacyMay says, it does often take multiple therapists. You need to be comfortable. Think about gender, ethnicity, age.

A thing that is important to me-a couple of my providers have tried telling me about their life experiences as a way of identifying with me. I don't like that. At all. In contrast, my medication provider has been with me for 4 years now, all I know about her is that she has cats. I trust her a great deal. I wish she could be there for me weekly.

That's not how everyone works. I know it inspires trust in some people to hear about others kids or whatever their issues are. Everyone is different.

Something that you can do on your own and they often have you try is writing letters to the family members.

Another question that you may eventually encounter - in dealing with them going forward - do they have the capability for change and if they don't, is dealing with them further going to make your life easier or not

Insurance - don't recall where you live - if you're on any kind of state health insurance plan there's probably some sort of mental health care coverage available on a very low rate? It might be a waiting list or limited options but possible.

Otoh, waiting till you are more insured and have the ability to research providers is perfectly understandable.

(I'm on my 11th search for provider right now and frankly I don't recommend starting out in the era of telehealth. It's not personal at all.)

Sorry for the rambles


Please feel free to pm me if you ever have questions.


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Absolutely! I was in therapy in college and then later as a newlywed for issues that stemmed directly from my relationship with my parents. The first time, I eventually wrote a letter to my parents that led to a big family meeting and some change for the better. SOME change. This time around, i'm more firmly my own adult learning how to deal with them as an adult before I start my own family. It can take a couple tries to find a good therapist. You will know within a few sessions if you mesh with the person. Some therapists are more gentle, some are more tough and it depends on what you need at the time. 

If you are a student at any level, your student insurance will often cover therapy at your school or in the community. If money is tough and you are not in school, you may also want to consider several of the new text/video/virtual therapy apps include TalkSpace or BetterHelp. I haven't tried either but I imagine it's much better than nothing. 

I honestly believe therapy is good for every person. Childhood trauma impacts us in so many ways we may not even realize. I think finding a therapist and saying "Yes, hello, I need help with dealing with my childhood and dealing with my parents now" is the perfect way to start and a good therapist can guide you through the rest. It's sometimes painful but in my opinion worth it. Good luck!

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older than allosaurs


My daughter has started seeing a therapist for just this reason. She says it's emotionally exhausting but really helpful to take a guided look at her experiences and responses to them.

It's not family therapy, but I hope to be open and responsive if/when that leads to discussions about my own role in those experiences.



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@meep It’s great that you being proactive in thinking through your options! And you seem to already have some good insight into your family dynamics and how they’ve affected you. 


My experience has been that therapy is very useful, and much of my own therapy time has centered around family issues and how they affect me. I think this is very typical. Also, you don’t need to have a specific issue or goal going into therapy. It can be useful if you do, but having the exact reason for therapy all worked out is not a orequistie, and a therapist can help you figure out more concrete aims if that is important to you. 

On the money front, there are some organizations that provide subsidized therapy to various populations, including some for women, and there are other therapists who sometimes work on a sliding scale. Doing some web searches for therapy options in your area, organizations focused on mental health, or payment assistance, etc, might help you locate an affordable option. 

In the meantime, there are also some great Instagram accounts focused on mental health and thinking through impacts of some of what you’ve described. I’m a big fan of the Holistic Psychologist and Nedra Tawab. 

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Definitely, but I am a privileged retired Canadian who is under involuntary commitment. I ran away from a hospital in an Uber, in socks, at 0430 last week because I didn’t like the psychiatrist. 

My kids (daughter and nephew) took 4 days and talked me into turning myself in, at a different hospital. Very drastic way of choosing my own therapist. 

We have a counseling centre that I can access for $25 a visit. Lots of help here, to supplement our free healthcare. Always remember that you’re in charge of your therapy. 

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Black Aliss


If I may, I'd like to recommend finding a clinical social worker (usually an MSW, but some have PhDs). In my experience, psychiatrists are great if you need meds in addition to talk therapy and psychologists are great if you want to delve into how everything came to be. But if you are looking to change the things you can and accept the things you cannot change, in my experience (5 decades-worth of therapy on and off) clinical social workers are the ones who are the most solution-focused. Research shows that a combination of medication and talk therapy usually works better than either one of those alone, although I have frequently benefitted from just the latter.

And, yes, to all the psychologists and psychiatrists reading this, I know I am generalizing and doubtless there are plenty of solution-focused therapists out there with your training. I'm speaking from my personal experiences as well as those of family members.

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