Sunday, May 10, 2009

Online Family Counseling: Attitude Change Was Needed

Expecting to be a first time mother is usually a joyous occasion. However such was not the case with L. whose recent pregnancy caused an already tenuous relationship with her mother to escalate.

L. called me in this unfortunate situation and here is what she was currently experiencing during our initial session of Online Counseling: “I am 27 and three months pregnant. I have been with the father for over four years and we live together abroad. Both of us work and are financially independent. My mother has never cared much for my boyfriend and doesn't have any time for him refusing to make a place for him in her life. She doesn't think he is good enough for me.” She confided to me as she began telling me about her situation.

“Since I told her I am pregnant, she has barely said a word to me. She told me not to have the baby! Obviously this hurt my feelings very much as we are very happy and excited about it. She hasn't asked me when it is due; how I'm feeling; or any of the normal questions a mother would ask. Her attitude and lack of support has left me feeling quite anxious and depressed.” At this point L. sighed deeply and sounded looked like she was trying to hold herself back from sobbing.

Looking back on my previous experiences as a family Online Counseling Psychologist and Life Coach, I knew how stressful a time and experience L. must be going through. At this point I started asking questions directing her away from her current experience and trying to see what her relationship was like with her mother in the past.

After taking a few deep breaths collecting herself L. continued: “My mother has always been too overbearing and controlling. This is one of the reasons I moved abroad. Still I can not believe how disgraceful she is behaving towards her future grandchild and my happiness. I don't want to create conflict and make things worse but I am starting to feel as though I don't want her in my life, or my child's. I have to see her in a few weeks when I have a hospital visit in my home country. I don't know how I should behave. She is not the sort of women that 'talks' about things and she is very hypercritical, childish and sulks when she does not get her way. I am really at a loose end, and unable to enjoy the most special time in my life.”

L. called my Online Counseling Services for help; understandably, she wanted to solve quickly the difficulty around her mother’s support during this very special and very stressful time. I therefore wanted to be as directive and as efficient as possible, by providing a practical Life Coach Relationship advice. L., I said, I have no easy solution for you; there is no ‘quick-fix’ move that I can offer in order to better your situation. You time is ticking, but you must think about elaborated Family Counseling process. The sessions first should be individual and then leading to joint dialogue with your mother, her life partner and your spouse. Only together, all of you have the chance to heal the relationship. Taking the Psychologist perspective, I added: I could only help to facilitate the process; I could not make happen, since this is your job to do.

I further explained that in the situation that L. found herself in living abroad away from her family, my ability to offer all of them Online Counseling would be extremely beneficial as we could do the counseling sessions through phone or online web-casts. It was in her circumstance the perfect solution for her situation.

As we continued to discuss the Online Counseling process I took time to explain what is called ‘attitude change’ – a cognitive and emotional process that alternates the belief system, the values and the socially related ‘do’ or ‘do not do’ practices. I advised her that my role as the online facilitator would be to assist each one of the family members with a series of one-on-one Online Counseling sessions. There would be three major ‘learning and change’ missions here, I continued, that she would better be aware of:
A. Your life with your child’s father: you should assess the situation and see why marriage has not yet evolved.
B. You and yourself: you should asses your dependency level, and change towards the ability to say and act according to your feelings and needs. This is the Empowerment issue: lack of capacity to challenge traditional forces (your mother) once it suppresses your desire or belief system.
C. You, your spouse and your mother: you both need to change/re-establish or recreate your communication style with your mother.

Epilog: No happy end here… you need two for the Tango; unfortunately the mother was less than enthusiastic about participating and refused to anything than to state that her daughter had made her own choices and those choices excluded her and her opinions.

Dr. Joseph Abraham, Director, Center for Human Growth and Business Insights, Mechanicsburg, PA Tel 717-943.0959 A Psychologist, Online Life Coach, Marriage Counselor and Relationship Advice provider. Psychologist And Relationship Advice And Online Marriage Counseling

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