Can Our Parents Help Us Through Therapy?

The important relationship between adults and their parents

Image by Unsplash

We don’t often talk about the relationship between adults and their parents, yet this relationship is frequently the foundations of our intimate adult relationships. This connection can also be invaluable when we struggle in life or if we just need a little lift over the inevitable hurtles we might face.

Our parents usually want what is best for us, they want to see us happy. This has probably been their aim right from the moment they knew of our existence. They have known us longer than anyone else and in a different way to other people in our life. Telling them that we are going to therapy can for that reason be a little tricky. We fear they will worry about our need for emotional help, that they will want to know too much about our issue, or that they believe therapy is not going to help us and why waste our money when we can talk with them.

However, our parents have a wealth of knowledge about us and can be invaluable sources of information about our past. While they may be concerned about our need for therapy, it is likely they will cherish the opportunity to help us.

Including our parents in our recovery

Before talking with our parents about our decision to attend therapy, it is worth considering what we need from them and how that need can be satisfied. The reason for this is that parents often want to put things right, so we no longer have to suffer. That means that unless they have specific instructions as to what we want from them, it is easy for them to step back into the role of caring for a child. We are adults and will possibly find this interfering. Though don’t forget, no matter how old we are, we will always be their child.

Think about how they can support us:

Physical comfort

Emotional support

Practical help

Or, do we just need them to know that we have started the therapeutic journey and for them not to worry, we are doing this so we can create a more contented life for ourselves.

Most parents would like a role in our recovery. While in therapy we might explore the relationship between them and us, especially in the form of early memories. Our relationship with them can be greatly improved if we are willing to set our boundaries as an adult and respect their willingness to support us by giving them a role to play in our recovery outside of therapy.


Having a conversation with our parents about childhood experiences can provide great insight in our life which can help us progress through therapy. Their knowledge of us and how they experienced our years of growing up, might shine a light on certain behaviours we have been struggling with. Their perception of us can lead to a different understanding of ourselves and might provide material for some intriguing therapeutic conversations.

Parents often instinctively know when something isn’t quite right in the lives of their children. They are more likely to worry about us if we stay silent than if we are open to having a conversation with them about attending therapy.

There are a few exceptions to this and in that case this article probably isn’t going to be very helpful. If you have a not-so-supportive relationship with your parents, then I am sorry and hope that you are ok. Therapy is a great place to explore your experiences, with or without the support of parents.

For more information about therapy and the journey we travel, read:

Psychosexual and relationship therapist. Author of The Essential Companion to Talking Therapy, Watkins Publishing. Tea, cats and travel.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store