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					Building Better Boundaries - Psychologist                                                        Page 1 of 4

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                               Building Better Boundaries
When To Seek Therapy
How Does Therapy Work?                                                                          Post Your Thoughts
                               By: David Sternberg, LICSW
Choosing The Right Therapist                                                                            Anxiety
Types of Therapy
Confidentiality                I specialize in treating young
Therapy and Insurance          adults, and recently several                                     Related Products
Find a Therapist               women in their 20s have come                                        Mother-Daughter
                               to see me because of their                                         Wisdom: Creating a
                               troubling relationships with                                      Legacy of Physical and
Anxiety & Phobias                                                                                  Emotional Health
                               their mothers.
Coping With Crisis
Family & Relationships
                               These women are smart,
Family Caregivers
                               ambitious, and otherwise
Gay & Lesbian
                               successful in their careers and
Grief & Loss
                               intimate relationships. But
                               when it comes to their
Sadness & Depression
                               mothers, they haven’t developed the skills necessary to
Smoking Cessation
                               maintain healthy boundaries. Because of that, these young
                               women enter therapy depressed, anxious, or sometimes
Substance Abuse
Therapists' Perspectives
                                                                                                 What to Say When You
Work & Career
                               The mother-daughter relationship is complicated,                    Talk to Your Self
                               particularly as the daughter becomes an adult. Since
                               mothers often see their daughters as mirrors of                  Stumbling on Happiness
                               themselves, they can be quick to point out their daughters’
                               flaws, damaging their self-esteem.

                               For their part, daughters can feel conflicted between
Treatment Centers              pleasing their mothers, for whom they may feel a sense of
                               obligation, and creating their own lives. In addition, adult     Take a Poll
Support Groups
Toll-Free Numbers              daughters, more so than sons, tend to take on the                      Are your
                               responsibility of maintaining family harmony, which means            thoughts in
                               they sometimes edit their feelings, or stifle them                  respect to an
Books and Magazines            altogether.                                                           important
Self-Help Products
                                                                                                  relationship in
Anxiety Attacks                “Carrie” (not her real name), 29, is an example of a
                                                                                                      your life
                               woman with a painful relationship with her mother. Carrie
                                                                                                overshadowed by
                               likes her job as a public relations executive and she has a
                                                                                                 feelings of guilt
                               stable relationship with her boyfriend of two years. But
                               nearly every time she gets off the phone with her mother
                               she feels anxious, so much so that she had four panic                  Seldom
                               attacks in the two weeks prior to seeing me.
                               The problem starts with Carrie’s mother. She tends to
                               either make judgmental comments about Carrie’s
                               appearance or activities, or passive-aggressive statements,            Nearly all the
                               such as “You know, I didn’t really mean that. You’re taking            time
                               it the wrong way.”

                               In either case, Carrie feels hurt by her mother, and often
                               manipulated. What’s worse, the few times Carrie has
                               expressed anger or frustration at her mother, her mother              See Results
                               has reacted poorly – hanging up the phone or refusing to
                               speak to Carrie for several days. Scared that she will lose
                               her mother’s love and feeling guilty for her mother’s pain,      Related Links
                               Carrie apologizes after these interactions. Later, she feels           Drug Rehab
                               even worse because she’s always the one initiating
                               reconciliation.                                                     ADHD Treatment

                                                                                                 Rapid Detox Treatment
                               As a way to develop better boundaries with her mother,                                                  4/30/2007
Building Better Boundaries - Psychologist                                               Page 2 of 4

                          Carrie and I have focused on three main points:
                          1. Carrie is not responsible for her mother’s feelings, or for      Assisted Living
                          that matter, anyone else’s. Carrie didn’t “make” her                Eating Disorder
                          mother angry, leading to her mother slamming the phone;               Treatment
                          instead, her mother chose to respond that way. There’s
                                                                                           Drug Treatment Center
                          nothing to apologize for if Carrie expresses herself
                          honestly and tactfully.

                          2. Be assertive. That means being polite and respectful,
                          but also firm in getting your needs met. It also means
                          owning your feelings and not blaming another person, so             Eating Disorder
                          it’s important for Carrie to make “I” statements. (Example:
                          “I know you want to help, but when you tell me what dress           Drug Treatment
                          to buy I feel belittled and hurt.”                                     Programs

                          3. There is no “perfect” way to say something. Carrie
                          sometimes avoids confrontations with her mother when
                          she feels she can’t find the exact words to express a
                          thought or feeling. More important than the language is
                          the message.

                          In our brief time together, Carrie has worked hard at
                          building healthier boundaries with her mother. She’s more
                          assertive and she no longer rushes to apologize after an
                          argument. And, as Carrie is happy to report, she hasn’t
                          had a panic attack since starting therapy.

                          Click Here to learn more about David Sternberg, LICSW.

                          Link: Find a Therapist

                          Take a test:

                                Is anxiety a concern?

                          See also:

                                Nobody’s Perfect

                                Have More Satisfying Relationships With
                                Yourself and Others

                                Boundary Issues

                                Changing Your Reality

                                Healthy Families

                                Leaving Home

                                Do You Become A Vending Machine
                                When Your Buttons Are Pushed?

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    Heroin Detox Center                                         4/30/2007