Advocating for yourself as a working mom can be hard. You’re usually busy taking care of your children or meeting deadlines at work, and sometimes it’s easier to say “yes” or continue without raising a complaint. 

However, therapy is different. When attending therapy, you must advocate for yourself and stand up for your own needs and values. Failing to advocate for yourself can mean that your time with a therapist is wasted – you can’t work towards your goals if you’re worried about upsetting the person who is meant to be helping you. 

Learn to advocate for yourself during therapy by finding a therapist who respects you, preparing questions before each session, and moving on if the relationship doesn’t serve you. 

Finding the Right Therapist

Therapy is a much more rewarding, positive experience when you connect with the right person. However, finding the right therapist for you requires plenty of research and a willingness to advocate for yourself. 

Start the process by consulting your current provider’s directory and bookmark potential options. If you know someone who already works with a therapist, ask them about their experience. A positive referral can help you feel confident about your choice. 

Once you’ve created a shortlist, reach out to potential therapists with your questions, goals, and a little background information about yourself. Pay close attention to their responses, and see if they’ve really “heard” you or if they’ve switched over to their standard sales script. 

You may need to dive deeper to find a therapist that meets your specific needs as a working Mom. For example, you may want to work with groups like WeRNative, which specifically caters to Native people in the U.S.  Finding therapists through groups that understand the problems you face can make the whole process easier and more time-efficient. 

Questions to Ask During Sessions

When attending therapy, it’s easy to pretend that everything is fine or that you’re improving – even if you are not. However, self-advocating at therapy is important as it gives your therapist a better understanding of how they can help you. 

You can start self-advocating during therapy by asking questions that help you understand the purpose of your sessions. For example, you might ask questions like 

  • “I’m struggling to utilize tool ‘x’ in my day-to-day life. Do you have any other suggestions?”
  • “I’m struggling to understand the purpose of suggestion ‘x.’ Can you explain it to me?”
  • “I forgot what you said about ‘x.’ Can you remind me?”
  • “How soon can I expect to start feeling better?”

Remember that therapy is a time for you and the challenges you face. A good therapist should willingly answer all the questions you have about their methodology and practices. You shouldn’t feel intimidated by your therapist and should feel comfortable asking awkward questions. 

Pay particular attention to the way your therapist responds. If you feel that they aren’t hearing you, it may be time to move on. 

When to Move On

Moving on from a therapist can be tough. You’ve likely formed a deep bond with them, and may not want to say goodbye to a relationship that isn’t working. However, you are attending therapy to improve your own mental health and need to prioritize your own progress over everything else. 

Move on from a therapist if you notice the following: 

  • Your therapist isn’t hearing you and your particular challenges
  • Your therapist is consistently late to appointments
  • Your therapist doesn’t validate your concerns and the issues you face

As a working Mom, it’s easy to become a people-pleaser during your workday. However, you pay for your time in therapy and should put your own needs front and center. 

How to Move On

If therapy truly isn’t working, you may be tempted to ghost your therapist. Ghosting your therapist means you don’t show up to appointments and no longer respond to communications from them. 

Usually, ghosting your therapist isn’t a good idea. They need to know why treatment isn’t working and will usually be understanding if you simply need to change providers. However, you can ghost your therapist when: 

  • You suspect a privacy breach 
  • The therapist crosses any of your personal boundaries at any time
  • You’ve seen them for less than a month

Sometimes ghosting a therapist is a valid form of self-advocacy and can help you find a better fit. 

If you don’t want to ghost your therapist, you can move on by:

  • Emailing them or talk about it at the beginning of the session
  • Being honest about your reasons 
  • Giving them feedback if you feel up to it

Remember, you don’t owe your therapist anything and shouldn’t feel any sense of loyalty to them. Your relationship is predicated on self-care and you pay for their service. 

You may need additional resources or help in the interim between therapy. There are plenty of resources to help working Moms with anxiety and you can seek support through other routes like support groups and mindful apps like Headspace or Calm

Advocating for yourself as a working Mom can be difficult. However, when you’re in therapy, you need to self-advocate and stand up for your own needs. Tell your therapist what is or isn’t working and find a new therapist if the relationship no longer serves you and your goals.