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Parents and therapy *TRIGGER WARNING*

Community Member

Hi there,

I have a question about dealing with family when you have mental health issues and still living with them.

If your parents are paying for your therapy/medical treatment and they get distressed with your mental state at times and then insist on talking to the psychologist or psychiatrist... (you've over 18)

Am I meant to go to psychology or psychiatry appointments never with parents...? Also, how often should I have therapy? Because I've had the problem when I had 10 medicare sessions and I said I wanted to psychologist alone and my mother insisted on being in the room with me - normally, I had let her in. I mean if you thought you might have bipolar disorder and your mother thinks you react to all medications and starts saying how I reacted to fever medication when I was a baby (I don't now react to that medication in that way) and on and on re distress

Or then I got worse so my parents didn't restrict to 10 sessions (because they said I didn't talk previously) and had weekly sessions... but there's been the problem where you haven't been told that a particular therapy was designed to be able to be implemented in group environments... but were told to go to a psychologist 1 on 1 (bought the workbook after the fact). It's like because I have my parents - people didn't tell me about the group option...

Also, if I've been trying to do relaxing activities and these activities have been making me distressed... Then I get told to keep doing them...

Or I was seeing a psychologist and then my parents decide not to go back to that one... Like it could be that particular therapy not being appropriate or person still training in it...

Or being told to go to a psychiatrist... but you have been getting agitated talking to the psychiatrist - re condescending comments re a lifelong condition and smiling... Didn't want to raise it to parents but when I did; my mother was like... you should have said something earlier about it.

Also, I'm not sure what I'm meant to do... Because I've had the experience where a psychiatrist told me I had the right to **** myself because I was over 18... But because my parents were there, the psychiatrist repeated this to them in the vicinity of her 5 or 6 year old daughter (which had been picked up from school by the receptionist) - If they hadn't been there, would they have believed me?

So I don't like how confiding in my parents can distress them but if I do sometimes they distress me further.

8 Replies 8

Hi pinktulip,

Thanks for reaching out tonight. We're sorry to hear that you've been struggling. It sounds like you are having a lot of difficulties expressing yourself to your parents and you ask many questions around what you should do. Please know that there is help available to you.

We would recommend that you get in touch with an organisation called Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277. They provide relationship support services for individuals, families and communities and aim to support all people in Australia to achieve positive and respectful relationships. This organisation might be able to offer you some support to help to improve communication between your parents and yourself.

In addition to this, there are always counsellors available via phone for your most difficult moments. This way you can speak to a counsellor privately in the meantime. Some of these 24/7 services include: Many in our community have also been through a lot in their lives and will be able to talk through these feelings with you. If you would like to post further, please tell us more about what's on your mind and how we can best support you through this.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Pinktulip~

I've read your other threads dealing wiht your education and the problems you have plus your kind assistance to others in their treads. I can well understand your confusion over this maze of therapists and parental interaction and hope this may be of some help.

I'm also glad Sophie_M has already greeted you and given you a couple of good alternatives.

I guess I'd have to say firstly that for any therapy to work properly there has to be good rapport, trust and understanding between the client (you) and the therapist. I believe this to be fundamental and cannot see it being done with third parties in the room except on special occasions where they might accompany you for part of a session.

A third party, (particularly a parent) will put one on guard and one many not be as frank as one should be, plus there is the danger the therapist will talk with the parent, not to you.

If the therapist does not seem to be meeting your needs or you disapprove of their actions then see your GP and change. Similarly if there are home exercises you cannot tolerate you should report these back to the therapist in order to find an alternative.

You are in charge of your treatment as you know you best. The number of sessions, financing allowing for it, should be an agreement between you and the therapist, made when a therapy plan is first worked out and then adjusted to suit changing circumstances.

If there are a number of medications that you react to then your GP should have an up to date list which should also be conveyed to the therapist.

Parents do have an important part to play - apart from finances, in understanding and supporting you with your condition so for them to have a level of understanding, most possibly provided by yourself, would be appropriate..

Would you like to come back and talk more?


white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome

At 18yo you are in limbo as you still transition from child to adult. The morning of your birthday a wave of adult change doesn’t instantly arrive nor does child like fragments of characteristics disappear. Also some 18 years olds are more adult than others.

Then there is the “elephant in the room” being your parents whether they treat you as an 18 year old or haven’t accepted you as an adult yet. This is common and their care/love for you can be nice but counterproductive in terms of letting you handle your treatment yourself.

In my opinion generally an adult child should be allowed to get any treatment alone unless your GP or psych says it is in your best interests eg beneficial for them to attend.

Alteady you feel your parents input to your treatment is not beneficial so that alone is a sign that this matter is causing you distress, it’s appropriate for you to make an issue with your professional medical staff to change the dynamics of your parents being present.

You deserve the best most effective medical care and that occurs when you eliminate distractions.

I hope this helps and we are here to give you our support through your journey to better mental health


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi PinkTulip,

Croix said it all really but I wanted to reply too. First to agree wholeheartedly with his post to you. Also to reassure you that from what you describe it's completely reasonable to feel upset with your treatment. I would be too.

I've no doubt your parents are concerned and trying to help. But what they're doing isn't helpful. I am surprised the psychiatrist/psychologist hasn't already called them out on this behaviour. Croix is spot on... It's not possible to have someone with you and speak bluntly honestly. It's pretty natural to censor ourselves when someone is listening. I feel like that at least.

I wonder whether you would feel comfortable to show your doctor your post? If they know you're not feeling able to speak openly because your parents are there it will help them set boundaries with your parents.

They can talk to your parents and explain why them being present all the time and not giving you control of your own treatment isn't helpful.

Do you think if it comes from the doctor your parents will finally understand how important it is that you feel safe in your therapy and able to speak without worrying about feeling judged or upsetting your parents?

Another thing Croix wrote that I entirely agree with was that the choice of therapist should be yours. If you don't feel safe and don't trust them it's not going to help much. You said your parents would decide to stop seeing someone if they didn't like them and that made me so furious for you. It doesn't matter what they feel about your doctor as long as the person is not doing anything inappropriate. It matters how YOU feel. After all it is YOU who lives with your experiences and feelings.

I felt really upset hearing you aren't allowed control of your own treatment. I feel quite scared at times when I feel powerless to make my own decisions.

Wish I had advice to give but mostly I just feel for you in this situation and hope writing about it helps you somehow.

❤ Nat

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello Pinktulip, thanks for asking these questions as they appear to be a huge query for you and I'll try not to repeat what has already been said.

Your parents are paying for the treatment you need, that's certainly good for you, but if your mum is present while you are with the therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist then you will hold back important information that's related to how you are feeling.

She is entitled to go to the occasional session every now and then, but certainly not every session, because when she is involved all you will do is make statements that please her, that's exactly what happened when my wife or sons were present.

It may have superficially helped, because after the session you maybe asked or told to do what was said between your mum/psych and yourself during the time together but you may not agree with.

Remember it's your health that needs help.

Hope you can get back to us.


Community Member

I'm not feeling good due to COVID-19 & I'm having flashbacks of when I had antidepressant induced hypomania.

The problem is I guess that when I first got depressed the psychologist I first saw told me I was too ill for psychology & I didn't really talk much this is >10 years ago doing Distance Education for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - I wasn't seeing friends during this. I got taken to a psychiatrist & I didn't talk much either. Then I got on an antidepressant & it got upped until I was zombie like so my mum got a 2nd opinion. Then went back to the psychiatrist suggested ECT after 1 antidepressant...

And I think that was a bit drastic but then my mother took me off antidepressant & I had suicidal thoughts & played sudoku. I was seeing a weird doctor for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. He put me on 5-HTP & asked for all the blood tests I ever had & justified results on the edge of normal re nutritional supplements. It seemed because I had been sleeping heaps (before the depression symptoms got worse) he was using anything on edge of normal to justify this. Then I wanted to get back to Uni & we saw another psychiatrist & she put me on the metabolite of previous antidepressant but unrecognised hypomania

So I end up in hospital 6 months after having start of hypomania then get discharged to the psychiatrist re **** myself. So my mum finds another psychiatrist puts me on medication which isn't antidepressant or antipsychotics or mood stabilisers because supposedly they were used in the history of treating depression once? because & he's also trialling medication up the nose for other patients. He says other people have it worst than me. Anyway, I lost all my friends that I knew who knew friend who died. So don't go back.

Anyway, I get a psychologist for back to Uni but for example, she tells me to try to make connections with people but I don't do this because I had a friend who died & the grief triggered my depression & I was told I couldn't have antidepressants again. Then I'm doing a reduced course load, courses in summer semester & I feel depressed in the next year I go back so I tell my mum one day that I'm feeling really bad & I make a cryptic comment about emergency. That same day, I get an award for getting high marks & because I've logged into my email at home & I get an award I get told I've got confidence issues by my mum. I get really depressed the semester & drop to one course 2016 but find it really hard. There's been other depressive episodes & stuff.

Community Champion
Community Champion
Dear Pinktulip~

I read some of your post about your current state and think you have had a though and amazingly confused set of diagnose and treatments for an awful long time, with parents that might try to be helpful but set you back.

You mentioned firstly you were doing a double degree, and I’d have to wonder of the extraordinary pressures of that is not helping -what do you think?

You also mentioned the possibility some of your learning difficulties may be caused by undiagnosed autism. There is a national body backed by the Federal and Victorian governments who have a great deal of information, including local help. They may be able to suggest how you can be reliably diagnosed


You also mentioned flashbacks about an adverse condition brought on by the wrong medication. You might find a few hint here on managing them, I found it useful


EMDR I guess needs to be done in stages so reprocessing is about something trivial. Perhaps suggesting that to your therapist might make things easier. I’m no doctor so am guessing.

And no you do not have to decide on any medication straight away, informed consent includes thinking about it and making further enquiries

Let us know how you get on


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Dear pinktulip

Heavens above, no wonder you are confused. I don't know which way is up from just reading your posts and YOU are the one who has been through all this.

I'm so glad you've joined the forums here.

I have major concerns about the ethical standards of the therapists you've seen, not all, but most esp the one who said it was ok to self **** because you were over 18? What is THAT?
It's never "okay" to do that.

If you are over 18yo then why on earth are your parents even allowed in the room with you during therapy?
I find this extremely inappropriate. (I have only been in the room with one child at her request and only that once since they were all 12yo).
This is YOUR time. No one else's.

As much as your parents appear supportive etc etc I am concerned about some of the comments you've made about them... is it mainly your mother who attends and says lots to the therapists?

I urge you to phone 1800RESPECT and talk to a psychologist there. Alone. Please get some feedback from a MH Professional there that has no financial motives as such by talking with you.

There is lots of evidence showing that MH issues manifest outwardly during a person's study at University.
Are your parents pressuring you to finish a double degree?

Sorry for all the questions but this situation needs sorting out like years ago.

Hopefully you will get some clarity for your situation fast.

Love EM