A Letter To My Son’s Therapist: Sorry, Not Sorry

To My Son’s Therapist,

I do not pay you to placate my son. I do not pay you to be his best friend. I don’t pay you to “be on anyone’s side,” not mine or his. I send him to you because he needs to talk, or I need help with something.

Autism, ADHD, Aspergers, blah, blah, blah, they are all a real bitch. And, frankly, we need some help. Hell, it’s 2014, who doesn’t?

I found a way in my budget and schedule to bring my kid to you over the past 3 years, because I thought you might be of the right frame of mind to be reasonable with someone who is otherwise quite UNreasonable about 90% of the day, not just from ASD/ADHD, but because he’s a raging, pre-pubescent, hormonal mess half the time, too.

I sat there today and listened to my kid say some pretty crazy things today. Like, shocking, weird, and completely untrue things. I also told you about some very not-so-great things he’s been doing, too. And after I shared my side, I listened to him unleash on me, in such a bizarre fashion that I half expected his head to spin 360 degrees around like he was in the newest version of The Exorcist.

I sat there and sobbed and you seemed impervious to it. A second later, you told him to apologize to me, which he did.

Great, right? He apologized. You. Are. A. Miracle. Worker.

See, the problem with apologies is that any one can say them, any one can fake their way through it. And, in my house, we do not throw apologies around like Mardi Gras beads to anyone who gives us what we want. We apologize  WHEN WE REALLY MEAN IT.

You seemed so pleased with yourself that he readily apologized. Really? How long have you been a therapist? That is what made you happy today? You know what, he’s apologized in front of you before, and at home, under similar circumstances. And the crazy thing is, he goes right back to doing the same things. I no longer ask anyone in my life for apologies, and I don’t like it when others do either, because I honestly believe it should come from a place of  sincerity and totally unprompted. But okay, he apologized. Bravo.

The part that really burned me tonight, besides the fact that I was vilified and dragged through the mud first, by him and then you, was that you then TOLD ME TO ACCEPT THE APOLOGY. Guess what, I am not 5. I am a grown up, 40 year old woman, who’s been a mom for almost my entire adulthood. I’m not new here. And not to be an ass about it, but you aren’t the boss of me.

You seemed floored that I said I was not going to accept the apology yet, because I wasn’t ready. I didn’t say no because I was throwing a fit or anything, but I just wasn’t ready. I also wasn’t really sold that the apology came from a place of the heart. Sorry, I call B.S. because I’ve been in the Mama Club a long time and I can call a bluff when I see one.

Here’s how it went down:

“I need you to accept his apology,” you said.

(really, lady, I mean, really?)

“I’ll gladly accept the apology when I am ready, but my heart is not there yet. I didn’t even want an apology; I didn’t ask for that, because I know it will do me no good in the end. What just happened was rough, and I am just not there yet, I am just going to ask you to respect that,” I stated.

What you said next was…odd.

“But I need you to accept his apology now because I am here now and I need to see it happen.”

To which I replied, “I don’t pay you to give my son what he wants or what you think will smooth it over, like a Band-Aid. I also don’t pay you to make you happy, like you’ve just solved this problem with a quick fix. That’s just not why I am here, to make everyone happy, especially if it’s a lie.”

You seemed quite shocked by my forthrightness and honesty. But lady, why does that not make any sense to you? I’m still beside myself. Forcing my kid to apologize and then forcing me to accept said apology is just not good medicine for anything that’s broken. It’s not a cure and it’s in no way anything for him to build upon.

You know what’s partly wrong with so many people right now? They all expect to get exactly what they want, when they want it. And they seem to think that no matter what means they go to get it, is okay, as long as they get that thing they want. Whether it’s an apology, a job, a free meal, a get out of jail free card, an A on their kid’s report card, I have been present to more horrific examples of people acting like complete buffoons because they think strong-arming people is how crap gets done, with zero thought about how that makes the person on the other end feel. But awesome, because they win, with no accounting for the loser.

Tonight two different people wanted their way: both you and my son. Sorry, I just couldn’t do it; I can’t send that message to my kid. If my kid is the last person on earth someday who is kind, nice, patient, and knows how to truly be disappointed, BECAUSE THAT IS PART OF LIFE AND HE CAN SURVIVE THAT, I am good with it.

Let’s start by both him and you being disappointed tonight. I think you are gonna be okay, and I am hoping that in some little way, I am in both of your heads, gently albeit strong-willed, letting you know that it is okay for me to know my limits, say no to things I am uncomfortable with, and that no matter what co-pay I pay for visits, I have some kind of say in what goes on in our appointments.

Maybe I am wrong, but it is a chance I am willing to take, and I am going to sleep really well tonight.


That Mom Who Says Those Things

P.S.  My son is gonna survive this, and in his own time, he will apologize to me when he really means it. I am okay with waiting for that moment and it will mean so much more.




32 thoughts on “A Letter To My Son’s Therapist: Sorry, Not Sorry

  1. Reblogged this on HarsH ReaLiTy and commented:
    That was a raw post and although I can’t relate in regards to your child I did see some therapists once in my life and remembered how I wanted to be treated. Thanks for sending me the post and letting me share it. -OM
    Note: Comments disabled here, please comment on their post.

    1. Thanks for sharing. It’s nice to hear such great feedback, since I normally just blog about food on bonapoetitpaleo.com. Spilling my personal guts is different, but liberating.

      Here’s a slightly different time, but a slant on mental health too.

  2. You’re a strong mama! I fully believe we need to stand up for our kids and the help they need by the best person who can help them. Staying involved is the way to go. Good job!

  3. I have to say I can relate to this, sadly. I’ve spent years dealing with therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists… and everything in between. Having a son with a bipolar disorder, I’ve been to hell and back, it is never-ending.

    I would have spoken out too…

  4. Good work, mom. And believe me, when it comes to choosing therapists, it’s buyers beware. That’s one reason I don’t charge for the first session. It’s a chance for everyone to decide whether the fit is right. And to decide if everyone is fully respected.

    But I’m glad you aren’t turning off. Good psychotherapy is the best hope! With you on the alert, the chances are good ….

  5. I’m glad that you stuck to your gut and expressed your thoughts. It seems crazy that you would even have to explain. I agree with you 100%. Me personally that would have been my last visit.

  6. Good luck with your new therapist!

    If they don’t mention anything like doing an action plan or begin working on making small steps towards some long-term goal, I recommend expressing your opinion some more. During any journey, there are stepping stones, set-backs and all sorts of adventures but without working together with the therapist and your son to achieve the right path for you both, nothing much will happen.

  7. Reblogged this on A Bipolar Journey Through The Rabbit Hole and commented:
    Therapists ought to be required to work in prisons before they can work with the general public. Mine worked in the prison system fro 10+ years before going into private practice, and let me tell you, she is one tough lady. If you have to apologize to her, look out, you will probably end up in tears and feeling as humble as ever. Congratulations to the mother who wrote this.

      1. You just rock on with your bad self! You are, as you pointed out, paying this woman, and if you don’t feel like accepting an in sincere apology, what stake does she have in it? It is clearly not her position to tell you that she needs to hear you accept the apology. She “needs”? Therapy herself? Maybe…..

  8. Reblogged on A Bipolar Journey Through The Rabbit Hole and commented that (paraphrased) :

    Therapists ought to be required to work with inmates prior to private practice. Then they wouldn’t need as much validation as this person apparently does, They would be used to getting chewed out or witnessing it.

  9. This was well written and I am glad you were able to express your thoughts and feelings to the therapist. It seems you both were not a good fit to work together. I personally feel that demanding you do something you were not ready for only creates problems for all concerned. I feel it is in your best interest to do what you did… change therapists. I wish you good luck in the future with your new therapist.


    1. I think that was a really strong response from you and good to show your son that just saying what people want to hear isn’t good enough, both from his forced apology and your honest response that you weren’t ready to accept it.

  10. Thanks for the post. As the grandparent of a five year old with aspergers I can sort of relate, although one generation removed from the actual responsibilities.

    As for the therapist, the following is just my opinion based on personal observation. People who provide therapy are in a business. They quickly learn to tailor their practices to whatever brings in clients or they don’t stay in business. Most, but not all, of the people who seek therapy are not looking for “a cure” or advice on how to change their lives. They are looking for validation. They really want to know what’s wrong with everyone else.

    You obviously do not fit within that model and your blog makes the point very well.

    Perhaps a new term, “enabler-apist” might be called for.

    Wishing you well in the future.

  11. I never make my kids apologize. ….. that’s just telling them to lie……… being a mom to special needs children we have to be bold ………it’s not always easy ……ok it’s never easy lol …….way to go. I hope the new therapist is much better …….

      1. Yes it is …… lol I remember my mom making us apologize and we were never sorry. I do make my kids say they were wrong and shouldn’t have done it. I’m trying to get our kids to always tell the truth…… lol

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