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Has anyone tried counselling?

(64 Posts)
Rosiestocks Sun 13-Nov-22 00:02:41

We've been estranged from DS for 10 years though we do still exchange Christmas and birthday wishes, and occasionally emails. He has recently suggested counselling. We've no experience of this and wondered if anyone could offer any advice?

DillytheGardener Sun 13-Nov-22 11:35:02

No not at all Fanny I was worried you’d thought I was being rude smile

Namsnanny Sun 13-Nov-22 11:35:20

Thank you Caleo a d FannyCornforth for you replies.
My experience of counselling broadly reflects yours. I'm afraid my faith in it has wained.

Lathyrus Sun 13-Nov-22 11:57:35

I just want to put another point of view.

I saw a counsellor when my husband was very ill for a long time and, quite frankly, I was going under with a whole range of issues.

It took her about twenty minutes to pick up my little derailed train and pop it back on the rails.

Just by asking the right questions 🙂

nanna8 Sun 13-Nov-22 12:17:21

A good counsellor is a good listener and has a great deal of empathy. If they are not listening adequately they won’t be very effective. With mediation each person has their say without interruption and after this some sort of mutual ground may, hopefully, be reached. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but it is always worth a try.

VioletSky Sun 13-Nov-22 12:18:58

I have been estranged from my mother for a long time. I didn't want to be and offered her joint counselling but she laughed in my face and it was the last hope of rebuilding our relationship. Emotionally I couldnt cope with her and that was having a huge impact on my physical health too.

You are considering this so it is clear that even after all this time, this matters to you.

I think you should say yes.

I think you should also be prepared to really listen. You might not like or agree with everything you hear but you will have to go with the understanding that this is how your child feels and this is what needs to be addressed.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't state your feelings and needs, just that your perceptions and theirs may not match.

A good counsellor will help you do this.

I did still go to counselling alone, and it was very helpful for me.

While counselling couldn't give me all the answers, having a calm, non judgemental space to talk through my feelings and learn some coping techniques was amazing.

Iam64 Sun 13-Nov-22 12:31:22

Psychotherapists train for longer. If you want to work with a counsellor, make sure they’re properly qualified and British Association of Counselling registered.
Many legal firms have well qualified, properly supervised Mediators. Mediation isn’t therapy. The mediator will set boundaries, enable the participants to tell their story and listen to each other.
It’s good to hear your son has suggested meeting with an independent facilitator, I hope it goes well

Smileless2012 Sun 13-Nov-22 14:34:11

As you say nanna it is always worth a try. Both parties need to be prepared to listen, and be aware that they are likely to hear things with which they disagree.

As with couples counselling, it's a two way street and the feelings of both concerned need to be addressed. Even with the exchange of cards at Christmas, birthday greetings and the occasional email, 10 years is a long time and both the parents and their AC will have been affected.

VioletSky Sun 13-Nov-22 14:39:46

Try to remember, it is the son suggesting counselling here, so he is taking a proactive step to mending the relationship and seeking a calm space for communication

Smileless2012 Sun 13-Nov-22 16:53:40

Yes, and if his parents agree to counselling they will also be being proactive. That doesn't alter the fact that it is a two way street and 10 years of very little contact and none of that face to face, will have impacted greatly on all concerned.

A lot will have happened over the last 10 years.

VioletSky Sun 13-Nov-22 17:15:08

That's not what I am saying Smileless

Son is obviously ready for counselling, has thought about it and decided that could be a way forward.

It might be best for OP to make sure they are ready too, know what to expect and are in the right place to do it.

There is absolutely no point in going into it with the mindset of, well I'm hurt too. Because that would make it difficult to actually listen.

Someone needs to go first before it can get to that and the son is ready to talk about why he is so distant.

That's the timeline, Son estranged, son has reasons, estrangement caused pain for Rosie. That's the order of discussion and it needs to go well from the start.

OP needs to be ready to listen first.

If it were the other way around and a parent estranged a child due to difficulties in the relationship and they were offering counselling and willing to try again... I would say the same to their child.

Son is ready to talk, Rosie are you ready to listen?

Luckygirl3 Sun 13-Nov-22 17:15:14

It will depend on the counsellor, but I do think that, as others have said, there is an olive branch to be grasped here.

There is a tendency to adopt a child role with counsellors and think they can see into your mind - they can't! They can however listen and reflect back to you both in ways that might be helpful. But if it is not helpful then you still have control over the situation and can say, as a grown adult, that this is not helping me; or to ask them to outline the approach they plan to take. You do not suddenly become helpless in their hands!

I had some counselling after my OH died because it was a very complex situation - his brain illness had caused him to treat me very badly, but, when the time came, I was the one who had to decide not to treat his last illness and let him slip away peacefully. A bit of a paradox. One counsellor dealt with it well - gave me time to talk and helped me to come to terms with the complexity of the situation; but one was hopeless - she was visibly shocked by some of the things that had happened to me and showed it very clearly - I did not find that helpful at all! I needed someone who could be calm and dispassionate.

So do please join in with this and see if it helps; but if it is not helping you can say so - and also you do not have to stick with a counsellor whom you are not finding helpful, for whatever reason. Also be prepared that your son might have things he needs to get off his chest, so you need to be strong and listen.

Lots of good luck with this - it sounds like a real opportunity for you both.

Smileless2012 Sun 13-Nov-22 17:23:31

They will all need to be strong. They will all need to listen. They will all no doubt, have things they need to get off of their chests.

10 years is a long time.

Good post Luckygirl and as you say, finding the right counsellor is key. One that everyone feels comfortable with.
so don't worry Roise if this takes rime too.

Smileless2012 Sun 13-Nov-22 17:24:00

time too

VioletSky Sun 13-Nov-22 17:29:54

I don't think you understand me Smileless

Hopefully Rosie does

FannyCornforth Sun 13-Nov-22 17:52:18

Message deleted by Gransnet. Here's a link to our Talk guidelines.

VioletSky Sun 13-Nov-22 18:07:26

I answered the question in the OP title

There is always room for everyone's feelings, but I do think Rosie needs to listen first as hard as it is for this to be successful

I really do hope that reconciliation and a happy healthy future relationship blossoms from counselling

As I said, I did offer joint counselling but it wasn't accepted but the counselling I tried for myself, while I didn't get all the answers, it was truly very helpful

Iam64 Sun 13-Nov-22 18:38:43

VioletSky, I don’t intend to be critical but I feel that in this scenario, you’re responding based on your own experiences, rather than from a less personal viewpoint.
We know little about this situation from the OP, we have no idea what contributed to the estrangement. You appear to be supporting the son and suggesting the mother needs to listen. I know you’re aware both sides need to actively listen to each other

VioletSky Sun 13-Nov-22 19:10:21

I think everyone responds from a personal viewpoint Iam64

What I support is mending the relationship and so I am sharing my thoughts on how best to achieve this for the OP

I have said that the OP is obviously hurt by this but I would advise getting in the right place before counselling to be able to listen before sharing herself.

Something I often see from estranged parents is that they don't know why they are estranged and not knowing those reasons is incredibly painful.

So listening to son first before sharing herself may actually be beneficial in other ways too.

This makes no comment on who is right or wrong at all.

Also as a parent I've learned that no matter how old my children get, I am always the mum. We always have an element of that adult to child role. I'm often needed to be the calm in their storms.

So that's what I advise.

Smileless2012 Sun 13-Nov-22 20:06:16

I'm simply stating that counselling requires all concerned to listen and understand. Some of the responses seem to be putting the onus on Rosie.

As mothers we know that we are always our children's mum regardless of how old they are, but that doesn't mean that our feelings are any less important and/or valid as our children's.

VioletSky Sun 13-Nov-22 20:15:07

It doesn't have to be an argument and we don't have to disagree directly with each other, we can just give our own advice

We are just different people

I shouldn't have to fight here or anywhere to be allowed my own views

VioletSky Sun 13-Nov-22 20:15:51

Rosie wishing you the best and hope you achieve a happy outcome for both of you

Smileless2012 Sun 13-Nov-22 20:21:31

This is a discussion on an open forum VS so it stands to reason that people will disagree directly with each other; how else are we supposed to disagree?

I see you putting forward your opinion/point of view and disagreement. I don't see you having to fight in order to do so.

Lathyrus Sun 13-Nov-22 21:27:08

You just type you’re viewpoint in. It’s easy - too easy sometimes.

Nobody has to fight to do it🙄

Hithere Sun 13-Nov-22 21:32:58

I would say this is not estrangement yet as you have been in touch routinely- VLC

Give it a try assuming you are willing to listen to your son, put yourself in his shoes and let the future you wanted go

If everything goes well, you will both compromise on how to move forward

Allsorts Mon 14-Nov-22 07:49:05

Rosie, Isn't it worth a try? You both need to listen to each other and you might hear some uncomfortable truths, Everyone has a different experience of their estrangement.
In my experience my d estranged both sides of the family to chose her own friends family. Older family have.sadly died, heartbroken as they didn't know what they had done". No amount of counselling could help there. I wonder if adult. children wonder how come everyone else was wrong.
My experience was very extreme but I think in a lot of cases relationships can be rescued with time. If I was in your position Rosie I would be pleased he had reached out.