I did what you’ve often said in your column about what to do when a relationship’s not working, and went for counselling. Then I purposefully did the opposite of what the therapist told me to do.
I sold my condo two years ago and moved in with a man who claimed to love me and want a long future together (I’m 41, he’s 44).
He wooed me initially, but for a year the relationship’s become rocky. He doesn’t relate to my young-adult son, nor my background (different religion) which I’d never imposed on him. He was also moody and critical with me, but displayed an easy-going front with others because of his high job position.
I went to counselling on my own, related my story, and was told, “You won’t leave this man because you like the prestige he has and the social life it offers.”
I immediately left the office and said to myself, “I have a good job which I enjoy, friends and family I love, and I can create my own good social life and prestige. Meanwhile, I’m miserable. I will leave this man!” And I did.
So, what good is counselling if the therapist doesn’t “get” you?
Skeptical Counselling Client
Fortunately, in this case, you “got” you and immediately knew what you had to do based on who you are.
Not to make excuses for the counsellor, but anyone seeking counselling would do well to first research the approaches offered, and also information on the professional training/accreditation of the person you choose.
Everyone has to recognize that not every counsellor is a good “fit” for their personality. A different client might’ve stayed and argued the point, revealing more about themselves which could be helpful in future.
As one reader was told by his therapist when he’d said he “can’t change himself” for someone else’s needs, “have you considered changing yourself for your own needs?”
The two then discussed his innermost needs: The man wanted to be happy and peaceful, not always arguing with his wife. He wanted his two daughters to be happy and secure in their young lives, with both parents together if at all possible.
The therapist told him to keep that image in his mind, figure out what he could do to sustain it, and see whether it worked for the couple. It did.
I can relate to your experience. I’ve sought counselling help a couple of times in my life. On one occasion, it failed me... I’d asked for mediation, and instead was told I didn’t need it, everything was fine in their view.
But in the process of writing this column, I’ve talked to psychotherapists, social work therapists, marriage counsellors, psychologists, relationship and dating coaches, even divorce coaches... and I’ve found many, many very experienced, knowledgeable, thoughtful, current and caring professionals among them.
Readers’ Commentary Regarding the child of a mother who fears her daughter, 20, is into excessive partying and drinking (July 30):
“There’s local help for that young woman through Cocaine Anonymous (CA) or for any other mind-altering substance. CA (Toronto) has a lot of young people in it with many people getting clean and sober.
“It’s hard to make life decisions when you're 20. At open meetings usually on Saturday night, anyone can attend as there are only speakers. So, mom and daughter or dad and daughter can go to the meeting to check it out. You might want to add this to your repertoire of advice. YouTube also shows lots of AA and CA programs.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the mother’s “messy” daughters (July 29):
Reader – “At 12 and 13, they’re capable of doing their own laundry.
“My grandmother had died when my Mum was a child of 13. So, she decided that my brother and I needed to learn how to be self-sufficient.
“She made a ritual on our 13th birthdays, of "introducing" us to the washing machine, dryer/clothesline, and iron. Thereafter, we were responsible for our own laundry (with a little help in an emergency).
“It didn't hurt us at all. My brother is still better at laundry than many people, and when his kids were born, he took pride in being able to help.
“Kids are capable, and if these two girls were made responsible for their own mess, and their mother didn’t protect them from the consequences of poorly-done or unfinished school work, they’d probably develop pride in their abilities to cope and care for themselves.”
Tip of the day:
When seeking counselling, research the types offered and the counsellor’s approach, to find the “right fit.”