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to not discuss psychology appointments

(66 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.)

mabon1 Sat 12-Jan-19 14:11:40

You are quite entitled not to tell her anything about the discussions, it's none of her business.

Daddima Sat 12-Jan-19 14:20:26

I agree with others who have suggested she may suspect that your relationship with her will have been discussed, and I too would simply say you don’t want to talk about it.

Jalima1108 Sat 12-Jan-19 14:20:43

If one result of it is to help you to deal with your mother's behaviour by perhaps modifying your reactions or giving you coping mechanisms then that will be a good outcome, but she has no right to know.
What happens between psychologist and patient is confidential.

Willow10 Sat 12-Jan-19 14:27:48

It sounds as if your mother is feeling guilty about your childhood and wantvs the opportunity to defend herself against any accusations. You are an adult now and you have to find the courage to say it's private and you don't want to talk about it. You don't have to explain yourself, it is she who is being unreasonable by asking.

luluaugust Sat 12-Jan-19 14:29:13

Do tell your therapist all about what your mum is doing I am sure they will have something to say. I would think it would be very confusing to discuss everything twice, obviously the easiest route is to say you have been told not to rediscuss anything. I really wish you all the best with this.

Grammaretto Sat 12-Jan-19 14:29:50

I am rather surprised that the psychologist didn't suggest that the therapy is confidential.
Have you already discussed it with her or with your DH ?
It is sometimes difficult to back off if you have already shared stuff.
However, you may have to make a fresh start and really do not discuss it with anyone outside the consulting room.
Certainly not with us on here?

I hope the counselling helps you find some peace and understanding in the future.

Gingergirl Sat 12-Jan-19 14:34:02

Hi, if you’re still reading the replies! I think it’s very telling that you are questioning your right to keep some things confidential from your mother. Yes, you are very entitled to do so! Infact, it wouldn’t be appropriate to discuss your therapy with anyone, I would say. That’s the whole point of is time for you and your therapist to spend together and for no one else to be involved. Next time your mother rings, you can confidently say that you’ve reached a stage in the appointments, where you aren’t going to discuss any of it any further with anyone. She won’t like it but leave it at that...and when she asks you why, just say it’s what you’ve decided and repeat yourself if necessary. I understand only too well, the ‘hold’ an abusive parent has on you. Be strong...this is all part of the therapy journey that you are going through...and you will come out the other side.

Jaycee5 Sat 12-Jan-19 14:37:12

I agree with Harrigan. It is hard to be assertive when you are not feeling your best either physically or psychologically and you also have a new baby to live with. Start by deciding when you want to talk to her on the phone. Then ignore her calls and ring her when you feel strongest. Try to say as firmly and in as few ways as possible that you are not going to talk about the session. Whether you say that the psychologist has advised you against talking about them, or that you don't want to because you don't want to think about it all the time (probably easier if you are not talking about it all the time) and then change the subject. If she keeps bringing it up, tell her that you did mean it about not talking about it and change the subject again. End the call when you feel it is in any way bothering you.
It is easy to tell people to take control and difficult to do it but it does get easier with practice.

Camelotclub Sat 12-Jan-19 14:51:19

Tell her medical records are highly confidential and must remain so! You are protected by Data Protection.

Pippa22 Sat 12-Jan-19 14:52:39

I don’t think you should do as Trisher says and promise to tell your mum all about the sessions afterwards . You are an adult and the sessions are between your therapist and you. What right has your mum to be told you will tell all to her. Much better to say it is private and you can’t discuss it now nor will you in the future. Your mum is not entitled to know everything about your life. Beyond saying afterwards that it was really helpful, you can keep all details to yourself- and not feel guilty if you do. Good luck with it all.

rocketstop Sat 12-Jan-19 15:41:43

Ask your therapist about this and how you should handle it. She will have come across this before and be able to give you some tools to use to handle the situation,Tell your Mother you are not doing any talking at the moment, just exercises to relax you so that you will be able to do more talking later on. That might buy you a bit of time til you feel stronger.
Hope that helps. Good Luck.

GabriellaG54 Sat 12-Jan-19 15:46:55

I agree with much of what has been said by others on here. All very sound advice.
You are the important one in this conversation and your privacy and confidentiality is of paramount importance.
Just tell mum that if she persists in asking/digging, that you won't welcome her calls, that you are not going to and never will disclose the conversations with your therapist and she should respect your decision in that regard.
Normal non- intrusive calls would, however, be welcome.
If she does step outside the boundary, say 'Goodbye mum' and put the phone down.

SparklyGrandma Sat 12-Jan-19 15:51:27

I agree with Missadventure, tell your Mum that your psychologist has told you not to discuss the content.

In fact I would suggest it will interfere with the work you are doing in your sessions, to share with one and all.

You could mention this to your psychologist too.

trisher Sat 12-Jan-19 15:55:46

Pippa22 "I will tell you all about it" isn't a promise to give details about every session, its a holding device that gives time to consider options and take decisions. There may be at some point things muffin wants to share with her mum. There may not, but thinking she will eventually know all will keep mum quiet, otherwise they are liable to have the same disagreement every time they speak. Mum may be told that muffin can't and won't share, but she won't necessarily accept that.

Orelse Sat 12-Jan-19 16:03:43

Hi , the same happened to me after childbirth and eventually I sought help in the same way as you have done .
But it is private so when I was asked ( once again the same as you ) for a blow by blow account. After speaking to my therapist about it , she advised Me to say that while undergoing treatment as this isn't helpful to discuss any issues with other, especially without trained support . By the end of my treatment I was able to say , that the whole thing was between me and my therapist and I would not be talking about it - which I never have.
Well done seeing a therapist and good luck with the treatment.
It changed my life and I have never looked back , I hope it does the same for you.

willa45 Sat 12-Jan-19 16:07:36


As others have pointed out.....this is an issue of Personal Privacy that you don't have to discuss with anyone! That includes your mother, MIL anyone else.... (whether or not they've had a role to play) and even if they don't like it.

....but why should you have to lie? Your mother needs to realize that just because she had you and raised you, you are not her 'property' 'nor does she have the right to dictate to you or decide for you. Figure out a way to make her understand how and why she's now overstepping your (adult) boundaries and disrespecting your right to privacy.

As unpleasant as the prospect may seem, you may have to confront her. When you do, you can remind her that going forward, you can both get along very nicely if she stops badgering you with personal questions.

Life isn't easy and mother/daughters often have difficult relationships. Just remember that being angry with someone doesn't mean you don't love them. Steer mum in the right direction with patience and love but without giving in. I wish you both the best.

MysticalUnicorn Sat 12-Jan-19 16:12:04

You don't have to tell anyone anything, indeed it could totally harm your treatment if you then get other people's inputs to deal with as well, or even skew your thoughts about events, or influence your thoughts, or they could try and make you feel guilty etc etc etc. It is your treatment, you are very brave to go through it all (I know, I've been there) and you don't owe anyone an explanation either. Continue to be strong, speak only to your psychiatrist, and tell anyone else to butt out because your therapist has told you so. Don't make up stories to tell anyone, just tell them nicely you don't wish to talk about it. If they don't like it then that is their issue and not yours. I'm sorry if I come across as being harsh but I do know what it's like and other people's "help" or interference is a negative influence on what your'e doing for yourself. Congratulations on everything you are doing, and I am sending you total encouragement along your journey. The end results will be so worth it. Just be yourself and celebrate it.

GG65 Sat 12-Jan-19 16:40:38

Muffin, your mum knows exactly what happened in your childhood. She knows that you are probably speaking about this to your psychologist and needs to know what you are saying so that she can justify, makes excuses and minimise your experience rather than take any responsibility for what happened. I think there is probably a bit more to it than your mum simply making “mistakes” as a mother. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes but there are some mothers whose behaviour towards their children is unacceptable and this absolutely does cause emotional damage to children which manifests itself when those children become adults and/or experience something similar to you - traumatic birth. I think it is quite telling that your mum is reacting this way. She is not interested in your recovery, only how she looks. I think you need to be courageous here and let her know that this is something that you do not wish to discuss with her and that she needs to stop asking you about it. We are all entitled to our inner thoughts and feelings and to “keep secrets” from anyone we wish. Your mother should not be asking this of you but I do believe she only wants to know so that she can cover herself. I would let your therapist know and they will be able to guide you on the best way forward.

GG65 Sat 12-Jan-19 16:44:09

Oh, and please do not make up anything about your MIL to appease your mum. What a tangled web that would become and not at all fair to your MIL. Your mum is an adult and will just have to deal with not knowing what is being said, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes her feel. Your therapy sessions aren’t about your mum’s feelings, it’s about yours.

Saggi Sat 12-Jan-19 16:46:24

My daughter is a therapeutic counsellor and I’m wondering if you all know that because of the ‘stuff’ that is unloaded upon them ....they themselves have to go to regular therapeutic sessions. It is extremely regulated. She would NEVER divulge anything a client had told her ( not even a Christian name) and she knows she can trust me. The client is usually told NOT to discuss their therapy with anyone....and this is the answer to give your mother. You would think that a mum would take the hint , but if she can’t she needs telling to back off. She’s just worried that she is having blame heaped on her at these sessions.... guilt might be the driving force here!

Lily65 Sat 12-Jan-19 16:53:24

It is perhaps a bit child like but in order to protect yourself ask the psychologist to contact your mother and explain very clearly therapy is a one to one personal process.

End of. Its not about your narcissistic mother.

GoldenAge Sat 12-Jan-19 17:16:40

muffinthemoo - your sessions are totally private from your psychologist's viewpoint (she will not divulge anything) but what you discuss with your mother or any other third person is up to you. However, you should be aware that if you do let your mother into your therapist's relationship with you, it will colour the outcome. Your therapist is obviously using a psychodynamic approach with you because you must already have indicated your abusive childhood. For you to be able to process that you have to be in the safety of your relationship with your therapist - you can't let the perpetrator of that abusive treatment into that safe haven - am I making sense to you? For your therapy to have any prospect of working you need time to process the experience of being with the therapist so if possible, avoid your mother and her phone calls for a few days after each session to give you that space. And if she really pesters you tell her that you have been working through some issues that your therapist has expressly asked you to do yourself in an isolated introspective way. Moreover you should tell her that you are focusing on developing a solid relationship with your baby and this depends upon the success of your therapy. Then if you can, just so she doesn't feel they are to do with her and are placing her in a negative light, ask her if she fancies coffee or suggest something else that gives the impression she has nothing to worry about as a result of your therapy. This is a really difficult situation and you're not the only person who goes for therapy and then finds a demanding relative on the other side of the session wanting to know what you've done. It is of course an indication of a controlling personality and this may be the root of all your problems, that she has tried to control you during your life and you resent this. professional aspect is concerned it is your decision. Good luck with your baby

Catterygirl Sat 12-Jan-19 17:55:34

Simples.....say, I found the treatment boring and stupid so won't be going any more. Quietly continue the treatment on a different day arranged with your therapist. I studied psychotherapy. Unfortunately had to cut short my training due to manipulation by family who weren't happy I was so strong mentally. Wish you well.

GabriellaG54 Sat 12-Jan-19 18:05:15


'^she would NEVER divulge anything a client had told her, (not even a Christian name) and she knows she can trust me^'

Does that mean your daughter discloses/discusses client information with you?
What has trusting you got to do with it?

knspol Sat 12-Jan-19 18:05:43

Like many others suggest I would just say to mother that therapist has told you not to discuss what you talk about in her sessions with anybody else. I would also add, as a precaution, that it might be as well to say the same thing to MIL just in case your mother tries to cause trouble as you . suspect she might.