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My Mother -v- My Therapist: Acceptance and Mindfulness

I have two older women in my life who have both had a major influence over me.  One is my mother, the woman who gave biological life to me; and the other is my therapist, the woman who assisted in my spiritual birth, growth and maturation.

My mother loves me.  She cooks me dinner, buys me Christmas presents, takes me shopping, goes on bike rides and walks around lakes with me, swaps family photos, lends me books and CDs and takes me across town to the doctors where she has to wait for two hours before taking me out to lunch and paying for me.  My therapist is very fond of me and I pay her $150 for a 55 minute structured conversation during which she very kindly makes me a cup of tea.

I can ring my mother any time of the day or night and speak to her for as long as I want.  I can visit her any time; I do not have to make an appointment, where I am the three o’clock slotted in between the 2pm and the 4pm.  I can ring my therapist any time as well, as long as it is not too often, within business hours, and for a very brief period of time.

My mother does not have a psychology degree nor does she have any faith in the “talk therapy.”  She does not believe in talking about problems.  She believes that if we just get on with life, issues will simply disappear into the murky ether of the past.  She wants to know how I am, not how I feel.  My therapist has a Master’s degree in psychology, has devoted her professional life to discussing other people’s issues and problems, believes that if we don’t talk about what ails us we will get physically ill and she ALWAYS wants to know how I feel about EVERYTHING.

I know my mother on an equal, egalitarian basis.  I know her family because they are my family.  We have friends in common and I have shared my entire life with her.  As she said to me once, “Sonia, you only have one mother!”  On the other hand I do not know a great deal about my therapist.  I know more than most of her clients because we share a 15 year history but it would be inappropriate to meet her family.  We certainly do not have any friends in common that I know of and I have the choice to see another therapist if I so desire.

My mother’s views on life can be seen through the eyes of the Catholic Church and my therapist is more Buddhist than not.  My mother’s book shelves are filled mainly with Patricia Cornwall, Agatha Christie and John Grisham.  My therapist has an office full of self-help books, psychology manuals, and large tomes on love, healing and spiritual growth.

I have many photo albums of my mother and our family.  I have hours and hours of Super 8 and videos of family events.  We have been on holiday together and fought and laughed and cried.  I have my therapist’s business card and a few symbolic gifts – but we too have also fought and laughed and cried together.

These are the two most important women in my life who have shaped and molded me into who I am.  They are both the same and different.  It is an understatement to say that it has not always been easy having a relationship with both of them.  But with the wisdom and maturity of hindsight and a widescreen view of the bigger picture, I feel blessed to have both of them in my life.

I am my mother’s and my therapist’s daughter.


My Mother -v- My Therapist: Acceptance and Mindfulness

Sonia Neale

Sonia Neale was recently awarded the Inaugural Barbara Hocking SANE Australia Fellowship to study and research Borderline Personality Disorder overseas in the USA, Canada, UK and Ireland. Her previous Psych Central blog was called Therapy Unplugged. She is the author of two books, The Bad Mother’s Revenge and Death by Teenager, both published by ABC Books/Harper Collins. She lives in Western Australia, is married with three adult children, has studied psychoanalytic psychotherapy, has a Certificate IV in Mental Health and is studying for a Psychology/Counselling degree. She currently works as a peer support worker in the mental health field.

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APA Reference
Neale, S. (2011). My Mother -v- My Therapist: Acceptance and Mindfulness. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 28 Jul 2011
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