Q I have a narcissistic mother and I’ve been in different types of therapy on and off for years. We touch on some things and I learn a new technique or ways of ‘re-framing’ something, but it doesn’t really help me in the longer term. Nothing seems to go deeper than an awareness of the problem and to suggest coping mechanisms to protect myself from my mother whenever I have contact with her. Why doesn’t all this therapy help me to really get over her and the way she still treats me?
A I suspect that it’s a case both of ‘one-size’ not fitting all (one way of therapy can’t work for everyone), as well as the therapists you have worked with lacking the professional (and perhaps personal) skills to enable them to work at a much deeper level with you.
For a psychotherapist to be fully empathic and effective it really helps if they’ve ‘been there’ themselves and come through it.
When we want and need to heal our deep emotional wounds caused by a toxic parent and an unhappy, troubled childhood, we need to access that part of our psyche most influenced and affected by our early experiences.
Some of which will be pre-verbal and from a time (before the age of 3 years) when you couldn’t put words to your experiences. Your body and sub-conscious mind will have recorded everything for you – and this deeper programming will be directing your life in the present day.
We need to carefully clean out the wound and not simply apply a dressing over the top in the hope that the wound will heal itself. That might work for a physical wound, but not for a deeper psycho-emotional one.
I know there are tens of thousands of counselling therapists and psychotherapists in the UK alone. The teaching is usually generic and not specific enough for this type of much deeper work.
It tends to be the case that the therapists who are aware enough to see the gaps in their own training and knowledge then set about filling those gaps with additional reading and learning.
Not many therapists have areas of specialism either. To work on a specific problem such as childhood trauma and recovery, and the influence of toxic parents is the ultimate level of therapy. This is the place where we find the causes of the many manifestations of the consequences – the ‘surface’ consequences that most therapists then attempt to work with.
Yes, I probably am biased – but after 20 years as a therapist I have no doubt that the inner child (that part of the psyche that was most impacted by our childhood and parents) is THE place of greatest healing and transformation.
I hope that you can now find the specific and deeper help you need to guide you along your own path to healing and recovery… to transcend those deep emotional wounds which will in turn help you to cope with your toxic parent (whether they are alive or dead).
This will involve working on your ‘internalised’ mother – that inner aspect which still influences your life – and to shift that relationship into one more aligned and supportive of who you are now.
It’s not your fault that your previous therapy hasn’t ‘hit the spot’ – your therapists haven’t been skilful enough for that level of work.
There are some therapists who are.
If you’d like a head start then please have a look through the free resources on my website (below).
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)
www.maxineharley.com Where you will find FREE e-booklets and other free resources designed to help and inform you on your journey of self-knowledge and development.
You can also pick up your FREE copy of How To S.H.I.E.L.D. Yourself From Your Toxic Mother; and then you could also get your copy of How To Detox From Your Toxic Mother.