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1)  You Aren't Responsible For What Your Parents Did To You As a Child, They Are

2)  You Are Responsible For What You Do With Your Life Now, Your Parents Aren't


Healing from growing up controlled has three steps:

Step One: Emotionally leaving home by separating from the hurtful aspects of your upbringing, parents and family role.

Step Two: Bringing balance to your relationship with your parents.

Step Three: Redefining your life.

Emotional healing is like physical healing. If you cut your finger, you clean the wound and protect it from infection with a bandage. If you break your leg, you set the bone and wear a cast to protect from further trauma. This allows your body’s natural healing process to work.

It’s the same with emotional healing. When you’re emotionally wounded by a controlling childhood, "cleaning" the wound means facing your true past and speaking about it. And the "bandage" or "cast" that protects these wounds from further injury is emotionally leaving home. This doesn’t necessarily mean a physical separation from your parents, but it may entail letting go of counterproductive links with them and your upbringing.

You cannot mend a broken bone faster by telling it to "heal quicker." Healing a broken leg means wearing a cast, which can make walking difficult. Similarly, emotional healing may mean changes in habits that at first feel awkward.

Like physical healing, emotional healing can happen 24 hours a day without conscious effort. You may not know exactly how a cut heals; you just notice that each day it gets a little healthier. Similarly, people who begin emotionally separating from a controlled upbringing frequently notice over time that they develop more positive values and a greater sense of freedom, often without knowing precisely how.

Emotional separation opens the way for you to bring balance to your relationship with your parents, whether they are living or dead. Emotional separation also permits you to redefine your life and yourself in terms of who you really are and where you really want to go, not in terms of your parents or your past.

From If You Had Controlling Parents: How to Make Peace With Your Past and Take Your Place in the World. Published by HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright Dan Neuharth, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

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Suggestions on Finding a Psychotherapist

A qualified psychotherapist who you can trust can be a very valuable resource in your growth and healing. Here are some suggestions for finding a therapist in your area:

1) Look for therapists who are licensed by your state (or who are supervised by a licensed psychotherapist) 

2) Look for therapists who belong to at least one professional association. While this isn't necessarily a guarantee of excellence, and there are plenty of very good therapists who are not members of these groups, such membership generally indicates a commitment to continuing training and to staying abreast of developments in the field. Listed below are several professional organizations

3) Ask trusted medical, health or educational professionals, as well as trusted friends or colleagues, for names of qualified local psychotherapists.

4) If you are seeking counseling primarily related to the issues raised in the book If You Had Controlling Parents, you might seek a therapist who has experience working with, or specializes in helping, adults raised in dysfunctional, controlling, or abusive families.

5) Recognize that psychotherapy may not always be a comfortable process, but it needs to be a safe process. In choosing a therapist, it may be helpful to call two or three therapists and schedule an initial visit with each before deciding whom to work with. Some people may prefer to work with a male therapist; others with a female; some want a younger therapist; others like an older therapist. Some therapists tend to listen and say little; others freely give advice. (My orientation, particularly in working with people from controlling families, is somewhere in the middle -- I find it is not helpful to be a removed, distant, "blank screen" in the old psychoanalytic model; nor do I find it helpful to talk so much that clients feel as if I am telling them what to do, instead of listening.) Whatever your preference, listen to and honor your gut instincts in making your choice.
Dan Neuharth, Ph.D., MFT (Calif. Lic#MFC29178)

 

Professional organizations for therapists

Marriage and Family Therapists: The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Online directory of AAMFT member therapists

Most states also have a professional organization of marriage and family therapists. See your local Yellow Pages -- look under "Marriage and Family therapists" or "Marriage counselors" -- for the local chapter of your state's Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Most local chapters provide a referral number you can call to find out detailed information about member therapists' backgrounds, fees, and specializations.

Psychologists: The American Psychological Association. Online information about referrals to psychologists

Most states also have professional organizations of psychologists. See your local Yellow Pages -- look under "Psychologists" -- for the local chapter of your state's Psychological Association. Most local chapters provide a referral number you can call to find out detailed information about member therapists' backgrounds, fees, and specializations.

Clinical Social Workers: The National Association of Social Workers. Online directory of NASW member therapists  

Most states also have professional organizations of social workers. See your local Yellow Pages -- look under "Social Workers" or "Clinical Social Workers" -- for the local chapter of your state's Association of Social Workers. Most local chapters provide a referral number you can call to find out detailed information about member therapists' backgrounds, fees, and specializations.

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This site is designed for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for psychotherapy or a visit to a mental health professional. If you are experiencing abnormal anxiety, depression, or serious emotional or situational difficulties, please seek professional help immediately. Click here for suggestions on finding a therapist

Visit Dr. Neuharth's professional psychotherapy website

If You Had Controlling Parents: How to Make Peace With Your Past and Take Your Place in the World
Published by HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright Dan Neuharth, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.