As a perinatal mental health therapist, my specialty is working with individuals in all stages of raising a young family. From pregnancy to postpartum and beyond, I focus on helping those who feel like they are overwhelmed, stuck, or lonely in their stage of life.
Many moms come to me asking me how they can stop being irritable, overwhelmed, tired, or frustrated. They want to find skills they can use to stop snapping at their kids, feeling like they are failing at work or at home, and feel more connected to the people around them.
Often clients, especially women, come into therapy feeling bad about themselves and wanting to fix these issues by finding coping skills. And a generalist approach to therapy often does focus on these skills right away, but as someone who specializes in working with moms, I recognize that this approach often fails women.
The Second Way Therapy Has Failed Moms: Working First on Coping Skills
Maybe you’re confused–why wouldn’t we focus on coping skills?!
Well, for many women, finding a coping skill to use in a moment when they feel overstimulated or irritable is just one small piece of the puzzle.
Focusing first on coping skills implies that the primary issue we’re facing is how you’re responding to the issue. Instead,
I like to focus on why these responses are happening.
To me, being irritable makes sense when a mom comes to me and explains that she has no time to rest and that taking any time away from her family means things fall apart in her absence. Being angry makes sense when she tells me she is not feeling listened to the first ten times she asks her family to help her with something.
If we jump straight to coping skills like deep breathing or increasing organization systems in her life, we are ignoring the root of the problem–the environment and relationships that aren’t supporting her in the way she needs. And in a few weeks when those coping skills don’t work, she feels like she failed, because we didn’t address the real problem.
I believe that moms need to be supported holistically, and our reactions, emotions, and thoughts are telling us what we need. In my work with clients, we stop to listen first, and then identify how to cope, for real, sustainable change that empowers women.
Stay tuned for part three of this series in the coming weeks!