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Bad Counseling

Started by Marina, July 30, 2017, 01:13:11 pm

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When I started counseling recently in order to reconcile with my DS after estrangement, I knew it was not going to be easy because DIL would be present and her agenda is to keep us apart.  With the opportunity to talk, DS and I have been able to clear up some misunderstandings between us.  That was very good.   

For the final counseling session, DIL gave quite a performance, being very teary and hurt by the way I had rejected her during the only time we ever met alone (no witnesses).  My heart did not melt for her as she told her sad story because I knew she was lying about what happened.  It didn't matter how many endless times in the past I had reached out to her for a relationship or to discuss problems (these were labeled as "demands" that I was making--can't win!), she sounded victimized over this one made-up incident.  I responded I had reached out to her afterward to discuss it with her and she refused to do it.  More tears and outraged hurt, enough to convince the therapist I was a cold you-know-what for not acknowledging DIL's deep hurt.  It was awful to end this way, and DIL staged it purposely.

I went into counseling with DS/DIL with my eyes open, but I feel traumatized again by this abusive behavior.  Of course, it was made worse when the therapist invalidated me and my feelings.  I didn't have the choice of a therapist and early on I could tell she was labeling me as difficult.  After this, I need to spend time building myself up emotionally again.  I may have regained some kind of relationship with DS, but it was at a cost.  I don't expect to see GC again for quite a while because this will be DIL's punishment for my standing up for myself.  I did a lot of grieving this past year and I know I won't break over this.  It just hurts a lot right now. 

It has helped to write this out, but I could also use some words of support.   :( 


I'm estranged from my OS right now. But, when he was dating this one girl (mother of my GC), she always told lies about me to my DS. When I would try to explain to him about what she was doing, he wouldn't listen. Finally, they broke up because she stole money from me and took some jewelry from my safe.
Because he doesn't talk to her anymore, he doesn't want me to talk to her either. I told him I wanted to keep the communication with her because I like to pick up my GC whenever I can.
I also told him that whatever she did to me--she'll have to answer to that later. I have no regrets about how I have handled my situation with the GCs mom.
You will become tired of the manipulation--I'm beginning to see that.
Today, because my OS is opening up a new business, he has asked everyone under the sun if they can watch my GC. Since he doesn't talk to me, I'm left out. Today, I have said 'enough!'
If my DS will keep my GC from me, that's ok. When she gets older, maybe she'll look for me. If she doesn't, there is nothing I can do about it.
I will keep busy and go on with my life. I am 55 years old. I still have a lot of living to do!
I hope with all of my might, that your relationship with your DS will get better. If not, live with peace knowing that you tried your best!


Hi Marina,
I'm sorry about that counseling ambush you experienced.  I can see why you would try counseling for the sake of your son and GC, and it is good to hear that you and DS cleared up some issues. There's your silver lining. How unfortunate that DIL was involved as it doesn't sound like her agenda was in line with improving her relationship with you, but only to get DS to take her side.  I don't have experience with this issue personally but I've known others who have, and it seems that manipulative people with an agenda can sometimes fool therapists (or lawyers, police, judges, etc.) and turn the tables.  It's very sad.  If I remember right, Still Learning once shared an experience similar to yours.  Hopefully she will add her perspective. 

It could be that your DS is suffering right now, too.  He's caught between a rock and a hard place because of her.  Maybe it is very difficult for him to cross her.  Not that this excuses his lack of assertiveness, but he has witnessed her drama and may be choosing to just keep the peace.  Tough situation.  I wonder if there is a way to still keep some contact with DS, regardless of what DIL says about the GC, and go from there. 

Hang in there, Marina.  Remember that all this drama is not about you, it's about her.  You've done your best, and done it out of love.  ((Hugs))


Thank you for the support.  It is much appreciated!  I was scraping bottom. 

As my nerves calm down, I am getting better perspective on the situation.  The therapist humiliated me at the end and that was hard.  She was biased; I'm guessing DIL had talked to her beforehand because the therapist was making assumptions about me not based on our meetings. 

Something else I'm realizing is that if DIL had not been so emotionally overwrought in describing what I allegedly did to reject her that one time, we could have discussed it and her story would have unraveled.  A good therapist would have facilitated that discussion.  What it boils down to was DIL was grieviously injured over what an impartial person would question was a misunderstanding on her part.  All the drama covered up the facts.

What would have been constructive in counseling with both DS and DIL is dealing with all the rules and double standards imposed by DIL regarding seeing her family versus seeing DS' family.  We barely touched on this, but the result was DS is now permitted to see me without DIL.  Yay.  (Not that I expect much contact, but we can build a healthier relationship this way.)

Considering all the lying and history revision I witnessed from DIL during these sessions, it is no wonder my DS is confused.  His recollection of our times together with DIL was fuzzy, and he didn't seem able to have a separate opinion apart from DIL.  It is very sad.   

Bamboo2, you have read my heart when you say I did it out of love.  Thanks again.   :-*


Oh M, I made the huge mistake of thinking that counseling would help me learn to get along with my DIL.  She chose the counselor (I was thinking her pastor or someone else that she knew, I had no idea that she was in counseling)and my sister warned me not to expect for the counselor to see my side of the story.  Boy was my sister right!  Basically I got to listen to my DIL's tearful description of our relationship with emphasis on everything I had ever done wrong for an hour at the end of which I was informed that I have a separation issue with my DS.  Really.  I mean really!

The one thing I got out of that session was that I gave up.  I was so hurt and so disgusted with my DIL that I did not care what happened. Then I got mad, deep down mad, actually at myself, for letting her have so much control of my life.  I had already warned my DS about her, he did not listen and the only reason that I was even talking to her was in the hope of helping my DS.  So I quit.   There was no way that I was going to go even a little bit out of my way to contact either one of them again.  I threw in the towel.  She won.  Oh well.

For the next few months there was no contact.  Then one day they both stopped by to see my DH and I.  They were pregnant.  My DH immediately said to me "Well, time to move away" which brought shocked expressions from both of them.  Actually since then my DS has asserted himself and things have gotten much better.  I get to see my now two GC once a week and I love it!  My DS is in touch with me a few times a month and my DIL and I have settled on a (usually) amicable text relationship.

So, for me at least, it turned out that the light I saw at the end of the tunnel before the counseling session actually was a train.  It ran over me and I picked myself up and changed the way I was thinking and eventually I walked out of that tunnel into the sunshine.  I like living again now!  I will never let anyone cause me so much emotional angst again!
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown


July 31, 2017, 05:51:04 pm #5 Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 07:41:16 am by luise.volta
I learned the same lesson, SL. My eldest son went into counseling in high school and when I was called in I had the same experience. He had more counseling as a grown man. The second time around, I refused to go. Like so many here, I did my best. My own mother wasn't perfect, and when I was a young adult I sought counseling to better understand my issues with her. There is no perfect mother. It's a tough job and some of us were tough to raise. Just sayin'.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Oh Marina. Hugs and love go out to you. I am so sorry to hear how this went. It is so sad how these counselors can't see the whole picture and are so easily swayed by manipulation.

Thank you all for sharing your experience with this. My heart hurts for us all.


As I mentioned in another thread, the counseling sessions felt like a hostage negotiation.  I felt duped by both DIL and therapist, and I wondered how much of the false narrative my DS believed about me.  It's hard to hear someone slander your character! 

While at a low point, I got news I will be seeing DS soon!!!  I want to focus on the positive now and forget the ugliness of what I went through to get here. 


We are with you, M.! Hugs...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Great news, M!! Hoping this continues and you can have a loving relationship with your son and GCs. I'm sure it is! 


I'm still processing what happened during that last counseling session with DIL/DS and why I felt so awful.  As DIL spoke, I became progressively overwhelmed by all of DIL's grievances, contradictions, and emotion that I really wasn't able to respond coherently after a while.  Similar to what Stilllearning described.  A good therapist would have facilitated better and there would have been a follow-up appointment(s) to work on issues constructively.  That did not happen.  Nor do I ever want to see that therapist's face again.   

DIL had no true desire to work out issues, just to prove me wrong.  I knew this so my efforts went into defending myself.

I can imagine this is how DIL argues at home with DS.  I have more sympathy for DS now because I realize he probably wouldn't know up from down when the talk with DIL is over.                 


M., thankful that you are very aware and know how to protect yourself from that kind of prejudice. All in the name of therapy? It felt abusive when it happened to me.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Here is an update.

My visit with my DS was bittersweet, with so many mixed emotions on reconnecting after our estrangement.  At first, not fully trusting each other because we were both hurt by the cut-off.  By the end of the visit, we were doing better.  It helped to be validated by DS; he also felt the therapist was out of line the way she treated me at the end.  DS even acknowledged that DIL lies; he made some strange sense out of this, which showed me he is pretty mired in denial.  From stories about GC, I could tell he is a conscientious father. 

I have now been placed on a schedule for visitation, actually the same as pre-estrangement.  Although I feel I should be grateful, I feel resentful at being held at arm's length again, being granted a concession to see family under strict terms.  Of course, DIL's family is not restricted in this way.  It makes me angry.  If all goes as planned, I estimate I will be able to see DS and GC with DIL (ugh) a total of 18 hours during the coming year.  Yay ungrateful me. 

I realize (and hope) things may change and improve in the future for my relationship with DS and GC, but right now it's a letdown, sort of anticlimactic after all the anguish of the past year.  I will need to make peace with this arrangement, as well as continue to work on making my own life worth living regardless.  This stuff ain't easy. 


Congrats, M. No, it isn't easy but you have worked with DS and opened a door. That's a huge accomplishment for both of you!
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Very true, Luise, thanks.  One assurance I have gained through this ordeal is that DS values a relationship with me, which is priceless.