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If you grew up with a parent who was extremely self-absorbed, overly critical, and controlling and/or has a personality disorder (especially Narcissism or Borderline Personality Disorder), you may now doubt your ability to take risks and make important decisions as an adult. Was your mother or father so overly involved in your activities, academics, or circle of friends that you felt smothered or robbed of your childhood? Were you raised by someone with severe abandonment or identity issues that their behavior created chronic tension, anger or instability in the household? Or it could be that you experienced so much emotional deprivation and neglect that you now have trouble trusting others or forming healthy relationships. If this describes your young life experience, then you may, as an adult, be grappling with a multitude of emotional suffering and broken relationships.
Being brought up in a home where the concerns of the parent come before those of the child, creates a harsh and lonely environment to grow and thrive. You may have been raised by someone who was extremely arrogant and grandiose to the extent that they would do anything to increase their own status through your accomplishments. You’ve likely weathered tempests of mood swings, spontaneous arguments, and unpredictable behaviors. Perhaps now you are no longer under their direct influence, yet may be wondering who you are without them, despite the sense of relief that comes with their absence. Even more problematic may be the reality you remain caught in the emotional bind involving a parent who still controls your adult life.
Growing up with a toxic or personality disordered parent leaves one feeling like I have to be perfect all the time. You may not have been taught or learned the skills and developed the ability to achieve a life that feels like your own…guided by your desires…self-directed. You may believe that needing help is a sign of weakness or a burden on others. Low self-esteem, feelings of shame, or lack of self-worth make it even harder to live up to impossible standards. Those of us who manage to achieve accomplishments, often become addicted to work, performance, and image. But no matter how successful you become, you may never feel good enough.
Coming to terms with childhood neglect or emotional/physical abuse is difficult no matter the circumstances. However, with my help, you can learn to process your past and free yourself from the tyranny of guilt, shame, and doubt, and reclaim your life with greater autonomy and confidence.
Parents can naturally be self-absorbed—even narcissistic at times—as they seek to balance and reconcile their individual identities with that of being responsible parents. However, when a caregiver becomes so self- absorbed that they project their own emotional needs, selfish desires and expectations upon their child, their child’s normal emotional development is arrested.
As an adult who is struggling with the reality of being raised by an overbearing parent, there is often a lot of guilt and shame that distorts trust in moving forward independently. Being raised by a critical, neglectful or cruel parent, it’s almost certain that you were not provided with the level of bonding and emotional attachment that you needed as a child. Most children are taught to always honor their parents and, over time, assume age appropriate responsibilities for their actions. Conversely, you may not have had the good fortune of appropriate parental guidance and love. While your parent may have a personality disorder, their mental illness was not your fault. Furthermore, owning that you experienced a difficult childhood does not mean you must blame or disconnect from your parent. The goal here is about becoming aware of who you are, understanding the dysfunctional family dynamics you lived with, and to develop healthy boundaries so you can evolve from your abusive past and move on.
Depending on your circumstances and emotional needs, I may use an insight-oriented approach to healing called Psychodynamic Therapy. This intervention allows us to understand any unconscious thought processes developed during your childhood that may be driving unproductive behaviors now. Similarly, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help to identify and change the way you act and feel by reframing old, negative thought patterns into something positive and empowering.
Many people describe therapy as a journey, and welcome the opportunity to become more conscious about their family history and inner world, and their potential to Open Doors to new opportunities in their interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships. Our human yearning is to push our growing edge to think, feel and respond, with more confidence, with more commitment, and with renewed clarity in our lives. I regard the therapeutic relationship as a collaborative one. My commitment to you is to respect your intelligence and wisdom, and to honor the forces of positive growth already present within you. I will support you to grow beyond negative patterns of the past, learn to cultivate a sense of self-compassion and forgiveness that will enable you to overcome the suffering you have endured, and realize that you are worthy of being respected, valued, and loved.
Coping Strategies for Relating with a High Maintenance Parent
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Open Your Door To A Brighter Future
Many people describe therapy as a journey and welcome the chance to become more conscious about their inner world, to awaken their potential, and to Open Doors to new opportunities in their interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships.
I can help you manage difficult decisions and navigate challenging life changes with confidence. Call (303) 277-9407 for a free 30-minute phone (or in-person) consultation.