This wiki should never need to exist! You’d hope making a hard decision to see an estrangement therapist should end there. Unfortunately it’s surprising how many times we see examples of bad therapists highlighted in our community.
Picking a good therapist shouldn’t be a lottery, but you may find it beneficial to ask a few questions before your start to see if you are a good fit. Or, if you recognise traits that are unhealthy for your healing, don’t feel bad about finding a new therapist.
Estrangement is healthy response to an unhealthy situation. The primary objective of any parent is to unconditionally love, support and help their child grow into a successful adult.
We don’t have divorce at our disposal. Nor should a victim have any requirement to appease the notion of traditional family to anyone, including a therapist. If a ‘bad’ therapist comes from a normal, healthy and functional family (or worse – has estranged children themselves), they may have bias towards reconciliation, despite it being inappropriate for non-functional families.
See the gaslighting of estrangement section in our estrangement wiki for examples of common estrangement gaslighting. If you hear your therapist talking like this please consider if they are a good fit for your situation.
It’s concerning when therapists (and society in general) treat victims of domestic abuse differently from estranged adult children: why some therapists apologise for, minimise and gaslight us EAKers, yet would treat a victim of domestic abuse quite differently.
This quote has been taken from a op-ed by an estrangement therapist who pushes for parental reconciliation. I have only changed the relationship from parental to spousal to prove a point. This highlights the uphill struggle we still face – if some therapists still don’t ‘get it’, is it any wonder why society in general doesn’t either?
Some of my patients are adults who decided to end, or are considering ending, their relationship with their partners. They try to process their spouse's harmful actions in their marriage, their lack of boundaries, and their narcissistic or intrusive behaviors. Those patients struggle with anger, pain and guilt and often feel confused and lonely. The abusive ex on the other side of that dynamic feels betrayed and heartbroken. It's hard for them to acknowledge or even recognise their aggression.
In most cases of domestic abuse, repair is possible and preferable to separation - and it's worth the work.
Source: Bad Estrangement Therapist
If you wouldn’t tell a domestic abuse survivor to reconcile with an abusive partner, don’t put the same unrealistic expectations on yourself.
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