The Good and the Bad Of Having a Therapist Mom

Jeff Guenther, LPC on May 09, 2021

Did you know that my mom is a therapist? It’s true! She even has her own profile on TherapyDen. Such a supportive mom, right? She’s great. She’s been a therapist as long as I’ve known her. I remember when I was a kid I would ask to play “therapy" with her where I’d tell her about my little kid problems (mostly, an annoying big sis) and ask her to fix them. She never really did fix them for me, which was sorta annoying at the time, but now that I’m a therapist myself I get why she never solved my problems. And honestly, what’s a mom to do about an older sister who’s just the worst, am I right? Sometimes your first kid is a dud and there’s no way to fix that. I assume that’s why she had a second kid. ;)

I feel lucky to have a therapist mom. Lots of pros. But with the pros, come the cons, and there were a few. Let me explain…

She’s measured in her responses.

When I was little, no matter what I threw at her she always gave a measured response. Whether it was not wanting to eat my salad, staying up past my bedtime, wanting to skip my homework, or asking for money to buy a video game, she’d take in the info and give a thoughtful response. No matter how hard I tried to get her to take my side when my sister was being a turd she never took the bait. She was always fair and oftentimes allowed me and my sister to work it out on our own. She was a rock. She was stable. She was supportive and caring, but not intrusive or overbearing. Such a pleasant and calm presence. She used her therapy skills to give me and my sister space to work things out so that we could learn and grow. While this worked out in the end, and my personal development was positively impacted because of it, I would have loved to have riled her up a lot more. The pro was that she was a steady anchor. The con was that I couldn’t make her flinch. And really, there is nothing better than driving your parents crazy.

She sends you to your room to think about what you did.

Oh my God, I hated being sent to my room to “think about what I’ve done”! It was the worst punishment, but… it was the only way we were punished. I don’t remember ever getting grounded or having anything taken away. My mom didn’t spank us. We weren’t yelled at. We were just promptly asked to leave and go to our room. Of course, the only way to exit my room after being told to go there was to essentially have a therapy session with my mom. I needed to understand the emotional impact I had on my sister when I teased her for her very low SAT scores (they were so bad!) or the bizarre blonde and orange streaks that were burned into her hair (she legit looked like a maniac clown!). But really though, if I had kids of my own that is exactly how they would receive consequences. Bravo mom, good move. I did learn a lot. However I will say, what I couldn’t stand was how everything needed to be processed. Let me make fun of my sister every once in a while. We all know she deserves it. Let me get some jabs in for free. Sheesh!

She’s a good role model.

My mom is very thoughtful, which is one of the best things I think a person can be. Her thoughtfulness has made a big impact on me. I see myself as a very thoughtful person, too. Or at least I try to be! She’s caring, empathetic, patient and calm. She challenges you to grow while never forcing you to change too fast. She’s there whenever you need her to be. Turns out all the best characteristics of a therapist also happen to be amazing mom qualities at the same time! I strive to be all those things as well. In fact, my mom was such a good role model that I basically became just like her. As much as I fought it at first, I too became a therapist. And not only that… My mom rents office space to therapists just like I do! Which reminds me, if you’re looking for some very nice office space in LA, check out her website. If you’re a therapist in Portland, check out mine. It’s hard to think of something to complain about here. Hmm... Maybe it sucked that she was such a good role model who influenced me to become a therapist because if she wasn’t, I would have 100% ended up going into tech and making a ton more money!

She deeply understands the impact she has had on me.

While my childhood was pretty ideal, there were some tough times. Tough times that had a big impact on me. And while most parents can grasp the fact that they are going to negatively affect their children with some bad decisions they knowingly or unknowingly make, I feel as though it can be especially hard on a therapist mom. The shame and guilt that my mom can sink into thinking about the impact of some of the not-so-great decisions she made can be intense. She knows the work I’ve had to do in order to heal, grow and work through the hard times. While it’s satisfying to know that my mom has taken full responsibility for her parenting fails, it’s also sad to know that she’ll probably never let herself off the hook for them. As a therapist mom, she’s not able to hide behind the ignorance of how much a mom’s behavior can affect her children. I’m sure that can be a very heavy weight to bear.

This Mother’s Day is not much different from all the other mother’s days in my life. I should have gotten her a huge bouquet of flowers. I should have sent her all the cheesy Hallmark cards. I should have flown down to Santa Monica and taken her out to her favorite brunch spot. I might not be the best therapist son who showers her with love on this day, but I do know that I am lucky to have a mom like her. And it’s not because she’s a therapist. It’s because she’s a really good person who is also a therapist because what else would she do? She was meant to be a therapist. There are so many good parts about having a mom therapist like her. I wish everyone could have one. I lucked out and I’ve always known that.

Love you Mom,


Jeff Guenther is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Ashville, NC.

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