When You Meet Your Therapist’s Kids…

A couple of years ago I left a therapy session with Anita and as I walked towards the gate, her son had his head in the bonnet of the car on the driveway. He was fixing something for A. Fortunately, he didn’t look up and I was able to leave without being seen. I didn’t feel much about it at the time, and I have literally only just remembered that this had even happened as I lead into the main bit of this post! Isn’t it weird, then, that a chance viewing of one of Anita’s children had absolutely no impact on me at all…and yet seeing the other (her daughter) set all kinds of shit off?! Hmmmm, I wonder why that might be?!

Let’s be clear, Anita is not a blank screen in my therapy AT ALL. Indeed, she is the complete antithesis to Em who revealed absolutely nothing about herself during the time we worked together. I know Anita has two adult kids and some grandkids – she mentions this on her website and occasionally mentions them in session. Most of the time that’s fine…ish (!). It really depends how I am feeling in myself and in the relationship with Anita in the moment.

If I feel settled and secure, then it really doesn’t bother me for her to reference her kids or something she might have done with them but other times (when the young parts are feeling vulnerable) it feels like she’s pouring salt directly into the mother wound. This feeling has got significantly worse in recent months, in part, due to the fact that her adult daughter has moved back in with her so she’s there nearly all the time working from home when I am having my sessions.

As I said in a recent post, sometimes I can hear her daughter moving around the house and it can feel … I can’t really explain it… awkward, I guess. There’s a kind of jealousy, perhaps, too. I feel jealous that I get so little of Anita’s time and attention these days, and so I really don’t need to be reminded of her daughter being there. I think I also feel a bit weird if Anita is reading me a story and I then hear daughter moving around. Because let’s face it, whilst we are working with my child parts in those sessions – it must sound a bit fucking weird hearing your mum reading kids’ stories to an adult.

Anyway, it is what is and I don’t let this get in the way of me getting what I need in the sessions – I just wish she wasn’t there (read into that what you will!). I try not to bristle when A says something about her family. Her family are clearly really important to her – as they should be. I guess, for lots of us though, when we know our therapists are close with their family, and involved with their kids and grandkids, it can feel like another reminder of exactly what we don’t have.

Like, “Look what you could have won… but didn’t.”

Therapy, at times, can feel like a brief escape into a fantasy world of what it might have been like had things been different (what we needed) when we were kids. Having someone who actually pays attention to us, listens, sees, and responds to us and meets some of our needs, is in so many ways the basics of interaction and caring for a child, but when it’s been missing our whole lives it feels like a magic balm receiving it as an adult! Having an attuned therapist has done such a lot for me…even if I am, yet again, whining about something that’s happened!!

Of course, therapy isn’t just playing at getting the mum we wanted. Well…it’s not only this (LOL!), there’s tonnes of work and pain to sift through as well. Often, it’s the fantasy relationship that triggers the sore points in us so that are then ready to be worked through and with (so long as the therapist is open to that and can cope with attachment stuff). I mean mine and Anita’s relationship is real, not just in my head, not only fantasy, but the child parts definitely see her as a mother figure. Adult me knows she’s my therapist but that’s an important role too and that client therapist relationship is valuable.

I am phrasing this really badly– wandering as usual! – but basically because Anita and I laid some pretty robust foundations at the beginning of my therapy, when the child parts and attachment stuff finally went live in summer 2020, we were well placed to deal with it. All the work we’d done at the beginning when I went to her when Em and I were hitting the skids and then terminated really left a clear map of what was likely to come up eventually between A and I. Anita’s absolute calm, care, and empathy hearing the absolute state of it when we first met meant that I knew that there was space for whatever might come AND THERE HAS BEEN A LOT!

I think this is really different to when I worked with Em and the aching need and attachment stuff came up and I had no idea what was going on, or why, or how to even deal with it. I was just drowning in shame week in week out. But Anita could see from the get-go that I had gone headlong down the hole with Em and triggered all my wounding in the relationship with her. Transference 101.

Anyway, get to the point RB…

So, we all know that my relationship with Anita is…deep? Yeah. It is. It’s close. It’s human and it’s fucking MESSY at times. We work through stuff in the room and it’s very specific to me and my need and my trauma. As we also know, a significant amount of my trauma stems from my mother wound…which leads to fun times! The bits that hurt the most are the bits where the young parts are triggered and feel unseen, unloved, inadequate, ‘less than’ – [insert endless negative feelings list here]…

Sooooo, a few weeks back it was absolutely pissing rain and I arrived at therapy at my usual time. I never arrive early – always bang on 10am – because I know what it’s like when students rock up early and I am still doing something else. Also, I figure if I arrive on time then Anita should be ready for me. So, that particular morning I had driven to therapy feeling a lot of feelings. It was right smack in that time when Anita’s wheels were falling off and my child parts were going wild inside but I had been keeping it to myself for fear of sending her over the edge. I had intended to go to that session and try and articulate what was happening for me because I was out of coping – I was in the zone and ready to go.

So, imagine my shock when I was head down trying to keep dry, little parts on the surface, and I walked through the gate, looked up, and there was Anita’s daughter coming out the front door.


I mean what a fucking fuck?! Of course we know these people exist. Of course I know she bloody lives there! But there’s something really different between having the knowledge of someone or hearing them moving about to being face-to-face with them unexpectedly. I instantly snapped into adult and pasted on a friendly smile and said “Hi”. A’s daughter smiled back and apologised for being there and then carried on out. All the while Anita was at the door – so she saw the whole thing.


Let’s be honest. This completely threw me. I got into the room and expected A to make some reference to it. It can’t just be me that thinks that’s a fairly big deal knowing exactly what we work on? I mean basically I saw the ‘sibling’. The favourite one. In the normal run of things I would have said something to Anita but given how it was then, and her total lack of capacity to hold anything I wasn’t about to bring the, “Seeing your daughter and talking to her felt really weird and it’s upset me a bit because the young parts want you to themselves and I feel like these days I get less and less of you”. Basically, it was the fantasy meeting harsh reality. And of course I know the reality – I guess I just didn’t want to be faced with it like this.

So, that was weird.

Really weird.

But then it happened again a few weeks later.

Are you fucking kidding me?!

This time we had a bit more of a conversation – nothing massive but she recognised me. She must be thinking, ‘There’s that client that’s here all the fucking time and never leaves my mum alone!’

So yeah. That was unexpected and uncomfortable. I mean, I guess sometimes parts of us would like to feel more included in parts of our therapist’s lives – but I can categorically say, that the part I am absolutely not wanting to know or come face-to-face with is her beloved children!

Anyway, I don’t have much more to say on that, I just thought I’d let you know as at this point I don’t think you can make it up! I mean I could unpick the psychology behind it but we know it don’t we? Ugh.

Anita is now away on holiday so it’s a three-week break – just marvellous. I’ve got another post swirling in my brain, so I’ll get to that sometime soon – suffice to say my internal mini bus isn’t in great shape.

But for now, I’ll leave you on this.

I like being an only child.


21 thoughts on “When You Meet Your Therapist’s Kids…

  1. easetheride April 30, 2023 / 8:29 pm

    I have to imagine that I would feel very rocked by this experience too. Given that I never wanted to know about L or J’s other clients, it would probably be really weird to come face to face with their kids. Once, L did therapy from home when her daughter was still very tiny and I took badly to that. Eek. I’m sorry you’ve had two experiences with that!

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum April 30, 2023 / 8:37 pm

      Thanks hun. Yeah it was weird. She’s very close to me in age. She’s also gay. Tbh I’ve prob seen her before out back in the day (the gay scene is small here) before Anita. It feels really like she won the lottery and I didn’t. My mum is never there when my life gets tough – yet Anita has her daughter back at drop of a hat… which is how it should be. Yeah the thought of other clients make me jealous but this is other level ouch! 😱

      Liked by 1 person

  2. SunsetCherryBlossom April 30, 2023 / 9:10 pm

    Surely theres something not quite right about the daughter coming out as you go in? Like Anita has had years of training in confidentiality but the daughter hasn’t! It’s another person you indirectly have to trust, to feel safe with. And having her move around the house during sessions, that’s not good.
    I would feel very awkward with all of that, before you even begin to get into the sibling stuff!

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum May 1, 2023 / 8:42 am

      100% there’s something not right about it!! First time I can let go, a taxi was picking her up, but twice in as many weeks … nope. Either leave five minutes before client arrives or wait til they’ve arrived and then leave. It is awkward. I feel much more settled when she’s not there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SunsetCherryBlossom May 1, 2023 / 9:11 am

        Can you imagine bumping into her down the pub or in Asda and her doing that thing where you know you know someone but can’t remember where from, maybe she’s had a drink or two and before you know it she’s told the whole group where she knows you from?
        It will probably never happen – she’s an adult so A will have her well trained I hope – but it would make me uneasy.

        Liked by 2 people

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum May 2, 2023 / 3:30 pm

        A would have her well-trained but clearly not enough to not be outside on the hour! 🥴 Her daughter is mid-thirties so I think mature enough to behave sensibly and sensitively.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. SH May 1, 2023 / 3:00 am

    Huge hugs. Our therapist doesn’t work from home but we’ve been repeatedly triggered by her mentioning other clients in a comparing way… like “you’ve progressed, some clients can’t feel connected in-between sessions.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • SH May 1, 2023 / 3:01 am

      Plus we’ve siblings so huge ouch


    • rubberbandsandchewinggum May 1, 2023 / 8:43 am

      Yeah mention of other clients is awful. It’s only happened once – the time I asked about the bloody ornamental box on the shelf and she told me it was a gift from a long term client… ugh. Pain!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • SH May 1, 2023 / 8:50 am

        Honestly, we think our therapist doesn’t “get it” (despite how it’s our biggest trigger in allllllll our time together) because she grew up in a stable and loving home without sibling abuse.

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum May 1, 2023 / 9:03 am

        Do you tell her how it feels? I know it’s hard. I can just about tell A client stuff I think (if it happened again) but the daughter stuff is harder. I once told her I felt like my confidentiality wasn’t secure. But I’ve never said actually how I just don’t want to hear about how she is with her daughter.

        Liked by 1 person

      • SH May 1, 2023 / 9:23 am

        We’ve told her yeah, not skillfully though. We tend to send angry emails. Just a few weeks ago, we had mended one rupture then she did it again. We’re wondering if we will blog about it, but it would likely sound ridiculous to anyone not in depth therapy, or who are avoidant attachment in general (vs disorganised attachment). The last time we wrote something vulnerable on our blog, someone didn’t get it and we felt worse so we took down the post.

        Liked by 1 person

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum May 6, 2023 / 5:46 pm

        It’s not easy to do things skillfully when triggered – but getting it out is better than keeping it in. I’m sorry there’s been ruptures. It’s just a bloody minefield sometimes isn’t it? I think with blogging you have to take everything with a pinch of salt. What you put out there is yours and personal to you. People might not agree or get it but don’t let that stop your expression. Largely people are supportive but it’s also easy to forget that a lot of people that read our content are part of the MH community and at varying places on their journey. It is easy to project into what we read and onto others. So, it’s not about you when this kind of thing happens – more about them. Take care and big hugs x

        Liked by 1 person

      • SH May 6, 2023 / 6:07 pm

        Good point ❤️. Our T did respond well by the way. So glad we got things sorted before she went on her break.


  4. P.S May 1, 2023 / 4:04 am

    Eeeeeecchhhh this makes me so squirmy!! What a difficult n painful n awkward situation to navigate. Sending big love n care to all the parts that need it ♥️♥️♥️

    Liked by 2 people

  5. behindapaintedsmile30 May 2, 2023 / 12:17 pm

    These things can happen, but they shouldn’t happen regularly. I hope it’s not a sign of overall disrespect from the daughter based on Anita’s issues with setting boundaries.
    I hope it doesn’t happen again, but I guess it’s about deciding whether you will say something if it does. Particularly the noise thing if it is disruptive. I don’t think that the daughter will be judging you, but you shouldn’t be put in a situation where you are ending up thinking that you may be being judged by a member of Anita’s family. x

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum May 2, 2023 / 9:33 pm

      💯 I think it’s been general disorganisation and time management as they manage a complex caring roll as a family. If it happens again I’ll say something as it just sets me off balance before I’ve even got in the door.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. cloudchaser777 May 3, 2023 / 8:22 am

    WOW! Sorry that this happened to you TWICE! My experience with something like this was regarding my therapist, W. She would bring up her friends and comparing things she said to them to what she was saying to me. Not good as it brought up those feelings of jealousy and longing for something I knew I would never have. Then the whole comparison thing when there was NO COMPARISON.

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum May 6, 2023 / 5:30 pm

      It’s not great when this kind of thing happens is it? Fortunately, I am not someone who is embarrassed by the fact I am in therapy and so don’t feel like I need to be in hiding from anyone. I can imagine for some clients it would be horrific. The making reference to things your T has said to her friends sounds horrid. You just don’t need it. It’s bad enough being ‘excluded’ from such a lot, without having it rubbed in. I mean tbh, I don’t want to do things with my therapist outside therapy but I do feel sad that her friends can have a kind of access to her that I will never get. Not explaining that very well but I’m sure you know what I mean x

      Liked by 1 person

      • SH May 6, 2023 / 6:09 pm

        100%! Cloud Chaser, I’m shaking my head at your therapist saying such stuff.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s