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to not discuss psychology appointments

(65 Posts)
muffinthemoo Fri 11-Jan-19 20:19:11

I don't know if AIBU is the right place for this; I suppose I just want confirmation that I'm doing the right thing and maybe some advice on how to handle this.

I have recently started a course of psychology appointments following a very difficult birth a few months ago. I expected to 'get over' my feelings around the birth, but I have realised that as I am a few months on and still struggling, it's best to get some help to feel 'normal' again. I've found myself unable to do things like go to a doctor for any reason, and that's obviously not tenable in the long term.

I like the psychologist who is seeing me, but we covered quite a lot of ground in assessment appointments, and she has told me she wants to work on historical trauma as part of the course of treatment. I've mentioned in previous posts that we had a sort of difficult childhood and my mother has a lot of problems of her own; our relationship is very difficult for me to navigate. We have a lot of contact though.

The crux of the problem is this. Mum is aware I am having these appointments, and is phoning me up after each one and expecting (indeed asking for) a blow by blow recap of what was discussed at the appointment. She seems to be under the impression my MIL will be blamed for everything, and to be... gathering ammunition or something?

I absolutely do not want to have these conversations, and am struggling hard with shutting them down. I absolutely am not prepared to tell her that I am going to embark on trauma work related to her conduct towards me in childhood and our ongoing relationship. This work is for my benefit, to help me to deal with some very painful and troubling stuff, and I do not want the person who - to be blunt - caused the bad experiences involved. Over and above that, she would react in a completely unhinged way to finding out I had ever criticised her, even in a therapeutic context.

I am entitled to my therapeutic privacy, right? I am not being unreasonable about this? She keeps prying and rankly attempting to cross examine me. I am well able to deflect and dodge but the continual focus on what she is describing as "keeping secrets from her" is starting to make me angry.

Do you have any suggestions for how to go about telling a very difficult person, who has longstanding untreated mental health issues, to... keep their nose out of your treatment? Has anyone else had this problem?

(My father's advice is just to make up a screed of lies about MIL which I do not want to do. I do not get on with MIL at all but whilst she causes some issues in my marriage currently, she absolutely is not to blame for the childhood stuff which has caused me so much trouble and pain. I didn't even know the woman then.)

MissAdventure Fri 11-Jan-19 20:25:39

Tell her your psychologist has told you not to discuss issues you're working through with anyone else, as it may hamper your treatment.

FlexibleFriend Fri 11-Jan-19 20:28:41

I'd say I'm so wiped out by going through everything with the psychologist that I couldn't possibly face going over it again with anyone else.

M0nica Fri 11-Jan-19 20:34:33

muffinthemoo, what a hard row you have to hoe, I am amazed you are as grounded and as sane as your are.

I think you are absolutely right not to make up lies about your MiL. That is a very sure route to disaster. With due respect I think your mother might act on what you said and approach your MiL about them - then what would happen? It doesn't bear thinking about. How would your DH feel to know you had traduced his mother, to placate your mother?

I am in absolute agreement that neither should you confide in your mother. Based on what you have written about her, it would be the equivalent of giving her ammunition for her gun so that she could shoot you.

Could you talk about the integrity of psychological treatment and that part of the therapy, is that it should not be discussed outside the consulting room, otherwise the treatment will be compromised? You could emphasis how the psychologist has impressed on you that this non-communication is an essential part of the treatment. So sadly you can tell her nothing

Another approach could be to just tell her that you have every right to keep secrets from her. You always have and always will. Would that take the wind out of her sails, at least temporarily?

What you do know is that our pseudonyms give us anonymity on GN and you will always have a sympathetic readers on GN, who may not have your problems but may be able to suggest possible strategies.

B9exchange Fri 11-Jan-19 20:43:11

Absolutely you don't have to tell her what goes on in your confidential consultations.

But I can understand why your mother could be anxious about them. If you have had past difficulties in your childhood upbringing, she is probably terrified that your psychologist may suggest that she is to blame for your current condition, and that it might be better that you cut contact. I think any difficulties with MiL are just being used as a red herring.

Perhaps you could just say your psychologist has forbidden you to discuss any matters outside the consulting room. Practice being firm in the mirror if it helps. 'Sorry Mum, you know I can't talk about that, tell me about your day?'

I think you do need to decide where you want to go with this, you obviously blame your mother for mistakes she made in the past, do you want to cut contact? If that is not your intention, then every time she rings, reassure her you will not cut her off. But if you do feel so angry you need a break, then you might want to discuss with your psychologist how you are going to handle managing that.

I do hope your therapy helps you get to a better place. flowers

FarNorth Fri 11-Jan-19 20:55:40

Mention your mother's questions to your psychologist. I am sure she will say you shouldn't discuss this with your mother (if you don't want to) and you can then truthfully tell your mother that.

Tangerine Fri 11-Jan-19 21:13:19

Tell your mother that your psychologist has asked you not to discuss your sessions with people.

If your mother absolutely won't stop asking, why not tell her some bland harmless thing to satisfy her curiosity? If she gets a few harmless titbits, she may stop asking. You could even make up something harmless to keep her quiet.

Nanabilly Fri 11-Jan-19 21:18:14

Just be blunt with your mother. Tell her you do not wish to discuss it with her , it's between you and your therapist . Being totally honest is the best policy and then you have no reason to stress about it you have upset her, or if you have remembered correctly what you said .

My mother always totally denied everything. It was as if she lived in a completely different house to us. Maybe your mum wants to know what's being said so she can get her excuses /reasons in order.
Do not allow her to control you by forcing you to tell her .say the same words each and every time she asks ..."I do not want to discuss it ! "

Anniebach Fri 11-Jan-19 21:28:41

Do not tell your mother, if you do she could dismiss the facts as your imagination and this could affect your therapy.

EllanVannin Fri 11-Jan-19 21:31:48

This sort of information is, supposed to be, confidential-----even to family.

Bridgeit Fri 11-Jan-19 21:33:59

My suggestion is to say nothing at all, when she queries this, repeat that the topic is not open to discussion , change the subject, do not be drawn into having to explain yourself self , your choices or your actions.( Don’t give an inch or else a yard will be taken ) You will not be being rude, she will be the rude person by not respecting your choices & decsions, best wishes.

cornergran Fri 11-Jan-19 21:41:22

No, of courses you aren’t being unreasonable. There are some sensible suggestions here. In your shoes I would simply say calmly that it is inappropriate to share anything as it can disrupt the work - which is true. If she persists yes, ask your psychologist to explore options with you. In fact why not talk the issue over with your psychologist now? Please don’t make up anything, that’s a dangerous path. Hang on in there. You’ve been courageous in seeking psychological input, it would be such a shame if you let your Mum interfere. Wishing you a peaceful future.

Ohmother Fri 11-Jan-19 21:41:45

It is your absolute right to keep your sessions between you and your therapist.

Hopefully your therapy will help you build a more confident and assertive you so you can leave your mother’s controlling nature in the past; where it belongs. Wishing you all the best. 💐

BradfordLass72 Fri 11-Jan-19 21:48:13

This sound like a Narcissistic reaction and it is very difficult to deal with as they are never wrong and you can never be right.

You may have to brave the wrath of the first time you tell her your psychologist has asked you to keep everything said in counselling, to yourself.

She won't like it, she's used to controlling but you know that. smile that's her fuel.

After that, it's just a matter of sticking to your explanation, 'Mum, I told you, it's confidential.'

If she asks why you've already discussed it with her, say you are now getting into more private stuff. And leave it at that.

I'm currently dealing with a narcissist and it's NOT easy.

kathsue Fri 11-Jan-19 22:17:10

Well done, muffin, for going for therapy. I'm sure you'll find it very helpful. It's good to talk to someone who is 100% there for you alone.
I don't think you should tell your mother anything that goes on in your sessions. If you give her an inch she'll want a mile. Your psychologist will help you work out how to speak to her. My counsellor has helped me with dealing with difficult people and situations.
Best wishes flowers

harrigran Sat 12-Jan-19 10:01:03

Your mother can only cross question you if you allow her to. You are in control, when she phones you do not take the call.
Your sessions are private and no business of anyone else.

FarNorth Sat 12-Jan-19 10:32:11

Don't make anything up, or tell her "harmless titbits"!
That would only encourage her to keep asking.

You are entitled to have your privacy, about this and about anything else.

Luckygirl Sat 12-Jan-19 10:40:38

Discuss this problem with the psychologist and get her advice s to how to handle it.

Do NOT take your Dad's advice!!!

Your Mum is feeling insecure because she knows you will be talking about things that happened as a child. I can understand her discomfort. TBH I would not have told her that I was going to these sessions; but she knows now and you need your psychologist's advice as to how to deal with her, and how to refuse to reveal anything in a way that does not make you feel bad.

But the principle that your sessions are private is absolutely right.

trisher Sat 12-Jan-19 11:38:28

Tell her "Mum, thanks for being so supportive but I'm working on some stuff and my psychologist would prefer me not to say anything until we've worked it through. But once we have and I'm ready I will tell you all about it. I hope you don't mind."
And then change the subject.

Nonnie Sat 12-Jan-19 11:40:58

I agree with FaNorth discuss this with your therapist who will be the best person to advise you how to deal with it.

Jalima1108 Sat 12-Jan-19 11:51:57

Don't discuss your MIL with your mother (and vice-versa).

Just tell your mother that you have discussed so much with the psychologist that you feel completely 'talked out' and cannot speak about it any more. That you still have much to go through and you cannot possibly rationalise much of it as yet.

You do not have to tell her anything but you need to find a way of putting this firmly but diplomatically - perhaps your psychologist can help you do that.

I hope the psychologist will give you the strength to be able to deal with your mother muffin.

Buffybee Sat 12-Jan-19 12:15:08

Just to reinforce what everyone has already advised.
You are right to want privacy about what has been discussed between you and your psychologist.
Absolutely!
I would mention to your psychologist exactly what you have said in this thread, I'm sure that she will give you good advice. flowers

allsortsofbags Sat 12-Jan-19 13:10:54

As has already been suggested talk to your psychologist.

They will help you to deal with this situation and letting them know what you are experiencing NOW will help them, help you.

Any therapy is Personal, and you have The Right to Have Your Therapy.

You have the right to share it with someone IF you want -Be Very Careful about sharing any insights with others.

Relationships change but any information/insights you have shared may be remembered. It's a bit like be careful what you put on the web it may come back and bite you.

So you are being wise and self caring by Not sharing your therapeutic experiences with anyone you don't feel you have a safe and caring relationship with.

On to how to deflect or better still STOP them asking you, your psychologist really will help.

However, there is nothing wrong with putting your hand up in the Stop sign and Stating "I can't do this right now".

Better still is the hand up Stop and I Won't Do this. I Won't answer your questions.

You can soften the "Stop" with the already good suggestion "It's been difficult enough to get through the appointment, I can't do it twice".

Then firm up with "I won't do it twice. I won't put myself thought it again now".

Please, please, please use the words Stop and Won't (Will Not) preferably at the start and end of the discourse.

If that isn't working you can try the following deflection techniques. I know these have worked for others in similar situations to yours.

I have suggested to clients that they match their questioners ( interrogators) questions by being somewhat rude.

The questions you are being asked are very personal and it is very rude and damaging to be asking those questions so come back in kind.

As an answer to their questions ask "How much have you got in your bank?" We know it's none of your business - that's the point.

Really provocative is to ask questions about their sex life - anything you judge will be shocking. It is no one else's business - that's the point.

I'll probably get ripped at for suggesting this but I know it works so I'll take a bashing if it's coming.

The aim is to make them back off. Also to support your statement that You Have The Right to Privacy in areas of your life just as much as they do.

So a statement of I don't ask you about your finance, your sex life (or whatever touchy area you know about) followed by Stop asking me about ... my personal therapy, thoughts, feelings, hurts etc.

It's ok for them not to answer you, or for them to even get angry unless anger from your Mum or MIL is likely to result in you being fully attacked.

If an attack is likely you know how best to use any advice you've received to Keep Yourself Safe.

Just to be clear. You haven't said anything about being attacked and I'm not trying to suggest anything like that but I don't want you to come to any harm. I'm not there, I don't know what your life is like, just stay safe.

If you are not likely to be attacked let them be angry IF you can cope with it. Anger will most probably come as a Verbal Attack but you can get a lot of information from standing and listening to an angry person shouting.

Someone being angry at you and not getting a Fear response from you really throws them off their game.

And you are in a Game, a Power struggle, and by getting help your are starting to Win and that will not be welcomes.

No wonder your Mum wants to know what is happening in your therapy, she needs to have her game plan in place. By the way I am not suggesting this is at the level on conciseness. I doubt it is but never the less you are in for a battle.

The battle is for your freedom to be You. Fully you, strong you who is the centre of your world. Always a battle worth fighting but never an easy fight. Take as much help as you can but only that which really is helpful.

If anyone without good reason asks anyone for information they do not want to share and that person will not listen to NO then on their own head be it.

Being related, part of your past, your present and possibly your future, is not a good reason for sharing information you want to keep private.

So you protect your self, your feelings, the work you are doing in therapy and Never doubt You Have The Right to do that.

Wishing you all the best for a good outcome.

pensionpat Sat 12-Jan-19 13:28:42

This is so clear. Do not tell anyone details of your treatment. There may come a time when you are advised to confront certain issues with various people. But it must be at the right time, when you are able to do it, and with the right support. Good luck

Kim19 Sat 12-Jan-19 13:57:18

I would stay vague but certainly not confrontational if you want to have a future friendly relationship with your Mum. Fain fatigue or change the subject as often as you can. Keep a written list of topic prompts with you when you chat. Don't answer every single call. As others have said, I would most certainly run this by my therapist. I'm certain he/she will have very helpful advice on this. I'm very much impressed by your courage in this step you have taken and only sorry that you have found it necessary to do so. I wish you every success with the outcome. Well done you.