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Does anyone have experience with family therapy?

Started by Elise, February 08, 2012, 12:25:56 pm

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Louise; My son was as your youngest son, thanked me many times from early 20's on, even said he wanted to raise his kids very much like I had him, was continuing to tell me things like that until 29.  Then he changed to the angry man and that escalated to intolerablility fall '11. He refuses so far to tell me what I have done wrong, what he didn't like or resents me for, just spews resentment ( very mild term for what has gone on).  He has refused therapy until now, so am hoping family therapy will at least get him to tell me something concrete other than that I am crazy and that I don't care about him.  Stay tuned... Did elder son ever get peaceful and loving again?

Loving the discussion and info on the elder thread - can you tell? lol pent up, that is right.


Elder son tried to like me. Called every Sat., was nice at family gatherings, sent flowers for my birthday, hugged me...in a valiant effort to get past it. He died at 52 of a sleep apnea induced stroke. His wife wrote me a hate letter nine days later telling me I was the most evil mother in the world and had caused him unbearable suffering. Younger son said elder son preached to him how awful I was for as long as he could remember. (Seven years difference...so pretty much all of his life.)

We have to give up looking for "whys" and logic. We can't fathom the perceptions of others and have to stay with our own truth.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


I am so sorry Louise, that had to be so painful. Thank you for the gentle reminder not to get drawn back in, how quickly our 'mom hopes' rise with the least little tidbit of hope and those pesky expectations are not far behind.  I felt a chill reading "Elder son tried to like me. Called every Sat., was nice at family gatherings, sent flowers for my birthday, hugged me...in a valiant effort to get past it".  I have seen that in the past year with my son - never feels authentic to me though, his eyes and  all the non verbal cues, pauses, etc. betray his tension in those moments to me. 

It is a beautiful white world today where I live in the snow zone, so I will bundle up and get surrounded by 'white light'. I am tired of the makings of man.


The quality of counseling is going to depend a lot on the counselor.  If s/he can't separate their own biases or has a strict "it's always the mother's fault" attitude, you're not going to have good results.  On the other hand, counseling won't be like a nice tea party.  Ugly issues and attitudes may come out.  Honesty is sooooo important.  But you can be honest and polite at the same time, contrary to popular belief. 

If your son insists on picking out the counselor, do some research on whomever he picks. 

Counseling is just a tool.  You can have the most tremendous sessions ever, but if no one changes actions or attitudes the other 167 hours a week, the relationship won't be healed.  An alcoholic can attend 3 AA meeting every day, but if s/he continues to down a bottle of wine a day, no recovery will happen.  I've known some instances where people complain about the time they spend in counseling but nothing seems to get better, but on closer questioning, you realize they aren't doing anything but attending their sessions.

Also, it's easy to blame the counselor if results aren't forthcoming.  Sometimes it is the counselor's fault - at least partially.  But you need a lot of self-honesty to make it work.  Not everyone is up for that.

Good Luck!


W - Yes, W., the in-authenticity is deadly. Walking on eggshells...trying, endlessly to get past "The elephant int the middle of the living room." Sometimes I felt it was better than nothing, but not always. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Herbal and Silver and Louise;  Thanks for the great info and thoughts to keep in mind. I had already been thinking how it might be my ds  and I might come across to a therapist as ok though not particularly close if ds is unwilling to own his behaviors which have led to the cut off. I have watched him be distant though perfectly polite to me over the last year in public when there are any others than he and I and the dil present. And since she is a clinical psychologist  (DIL) and they have decided I am not rational and  apparently very grandiose ( his most often used label of me)  it seems particularly loaded.  I will keep all your points in mind.  I want the elephant exposed - be it me or he or most probably we. Regardless of outcomes ( we all know what I want in my heart if I had my choice - and ds too I think as I know his love for me is strong if twisted now), it has to be better to know and find peace in that way even if it means a total estrangement - for ds too, not only me.

I think he is going to be choosing the therapist though my therapist has offered assistance as he is connected in their part of the country ( 1500 miles from me).  I doubt ds will take up on that though, as I have asked for therapy with him for almost 3 years now and he always insisted I was crazy and he had no problems other than me, and dil is a clinical psychologist herself though she does research not therapy.
I Will ask the therapist directly about  experience and credentials and whether there has been any contact or knowledge of any of the 3 of us at the beginning of the first web session. I will not know if the person lies though I suppose, yet it would be a reportable offense if they did, so I think there would be he sitency on their part to lie. I will go into this believing my sons intentions are good, though he can be naive in an area like this he does not have experience in it and I can well understand he might cede control of those variables to his wife who would/should know more.  I think he has all along  not understood that since she has a horse in the race she may not have helped in our problems.  She has observed some and overheard much of the emotional abuse ds has spewed. Never once has he come back and apologized. I asked him last fall if dil ever has gently reminded him that no resolution is possible when he is screaming and labeling and telling me how I am and refusing to listen when I try to correct him about how I feel and think. I have never yelled or screamed back or returned his fire, though often I have cried listening and tyring to keep up with the swirling words form ds.

I am sorry for these long posts - I just need to get this out, thank you for listening and helping me. I have a lot of friends and have begun to share with a few of them what is going on. They are so loving and kind and so shocked as they have never heard anything like this and are in disbelief still because they know ds rather well through the years.  Knowing there are others like me, though I wish there were not, going through some variation of this is so helpful to know and the authentic honesty of experience and what does or does not help guides me daily now. What a gift you all are.  I think this is a huge movement of change - us coming out of the silence with our painful truths and the increasing incidence of this sort in our culture overall. Dr. Phil Louise?