No words are enough to describe the delicate relationship between a mother and her daughter. A healthy mother-daughter relationship is a powerful bond based on empathy, love, and trust.
Unfortunately, conflicts can develop in this relationship for a number of different reasons. The escalation of these disagreements may lead to serious issues, such as face-to-face confrontation and emotional disconnection.
In this guide, we’ll look at the top relationship therapy services for mothers and daughters. We’ll also look at mother-daughter relationship psychology in more detail, to help explain some of the common causes of mother-daughter conflict, and how they can be resolved.
Mother-daughter counseling services
Mother Daughter Therapy
If you’re looking for accessible counseling for mothers and daughters, there are a number of online support services available.
Here are the best services you can use to get the support you need and begin the healing process.
BetterHelp is an online therapy platform that helps people resolve conflicts and behavioral issues.
Focusing on family therapy, BetterHelp provides counseling sessions for intra-family conflicts, particularly related to women’s issues. Their family therapists have a wealth of experience improving relationships between mothers and daughters, and they can work with adult and child relationships as well.
BetterHelp’s team includes licensed counselors, mental health specialists, and psychologists, who are equipped to help all families, no matter how challenging the situation. They also have counselors in different time zones, to make sure someone is always available, no matter where you live. You can set up a call or get in contact at the time that works best for you.
BetterHelp has a number of benefits for families looking to create healthy relationships:
- Change therapist easily: if you’re not satisfied with your therapist, BetterHelp allows you to change your counselor with just a few clicks. Rather than compiling an application or having to send a request, you can easily choose the therapist that works best for you, and switch at any time. To begin with, BetterHelp will match you with a therapist, ensuring that you can begin to get help as easily as possible. You can also specify that you want a female therapist if you’d prefer.
- Communicate how you want: you can choose to get in touch with your counselor over phone calls, video conference, live chat, or text messaging. This allows you to communicate and get help through the communication channel that works best for you.
- Accessible, easy to use service: With BetterHelp, you don’t have to leave the comfort of home to get the help that you need. Plus, the other party from your family can attend no matter where they’re located. If you have an adult daughter or adult daughters who lives in another state for example, this is not a problem.
Mother Daughter Therapy
Mother Daughter Therapy
ReGain is another website that provides family therapy, specializing in relationship counseling.
Just like BetterHelp, ReGain also allows you complete freedom in choosing a mother-daughter therapist. The site is actually a sister service of BetterHelp, so the two are very similar to use.
Both have a range of licensed therapists to choose from, and have a strong history of helping families heal their relationships. The difference is, ReGain is more focused on relationship therapy.
With ReGain, you can ask to be matched with a dedicated relationship counselor. You can choose to have initial sessions by yourself, and then invite your mother or daughter at a later date, or begin seeing a counselor together from the first session.
Is it worth using online mother-daughter therapy?
Studies have shown that online counseling can be just as effective as in-person treatment for many people. If you feel that online therapy suits your needs, for example, if it will make it easier for you to get help, then it is definitely worth exploring and may be more effective than getting help in person.
However, if using an online service, you need to ensure that you’re getting counseling sessions from a licensed mental health professional. This is why it’s important to use a service with a network of licensed counselors and psychologists, such as BetterHelp.
COVID-19 and mother-daughter counseling
If you’re worried about the risk of COVID-19, online counseling is definitely worth considering.
When restrictions are in place on physical meetings, online therapies are the best way to carry on with mother-daughter therapy. Even if getting help online isn’t your preferred method, it’s better than getting no help at all.
Types of mother-daughter relationships
Mother-daughter relationships can evolve into many different types due to differences in personalities, interests, and socio-cultural aspects.
Your relationship with your daughter or mother may fit into one or more of the following classifications.
1. Ideal and healthy
Ideal mother-daughter relationships demonstrate trust, love, compromise, and respect.
In a healthy relationship, both the mother and daughter should exhibit the following behaviors:
- Setting practical expectations of each other.
- Accepting the mistakes and failures of one another.
- Showing care for each other even in the face of conflict.
- Sharing and listening to inner thoughts with one another.
- Spending enough time with each other (but not becoming overly attached).
- Building trust in each other.
- Creating and respecting healthy and flexible boundaries.
In this type of relationship, typically a mom tries to control the relationship. Although this commonly occurs to the mother’s protective nature, too much control can disrupt the relationship, especially if you have a young adult daughter.
A daughter might try to do everything to please her mom, while the mother doesn’t always respect the desires and freedom of her daughter. This can lead to disputes between the parent and her child.
Due to repeated disagreements and unresolved conflicts, hostility can develop between a mother and her daughter. This is called a competitive relationship.
Instead of love, trust, and understanding, rivalry develops. Just like men, women sometimes become overly competitive with other women in their surroundings. This practice can result in the souring of existing relationships.
According to Freud, childhood development also plays a vital role in defining the type of bond that might develop between a mother and her child. However, these complex relationship issues are beyond the scope of this article.
4. Role reversal
Role reversal refers to a difficult mother-daughter relationship where an adult daughter has to support her mother financially and/or emotionally. As a result, a daughter’s life is restricted due to the increased dependence of her mom on her. This type of relationship typically occurs in the latter stages of the parent’s life.
When either a mother or daughter distances herself from the other, it creates a gap between them.
This sometimes happens when women’s emotional needs are not met, for instance, if a mother has divorced or married someone else. In the outcome, the daughter tries to find someone else from her own family members (or elsewhere) for emotional dependence.
Root causes of conflicts in a mother-daughter relationship
Many factors can become the root causes of conflicts between mothers and their daughters.
Some of the most common causes are:
- Neglectful behavior of either a mother or a daughter.
- Unrealistic expectations and hopes of the other.
- Controlling rather than supportive behavior.
- A mom’s attempts to live her dreams through her daughter.
- A daughter becoming overly attached to her mother.
- A disregard the other one’s self-esteem and self-worth.
- Introversion as a response to mild conflicts, rather than sharing thoughts and feelings in an attempt to resolve the issue.
- Emotional gaps between a mother and her daughter due to external determinants, such as societal views.
Before resolving conflicts between a mother and daughter, the root causes of these issues must be uncovered. This is what professional counselors will help you with in their initial sessions.
What can be done to resolve mother-daughter conflicts?
Many steps can be taken to resolve issues in a difficult mother-daughter relationship, such as:
1. Building trust in each other
Trust is the essential ingredient in fostering a healthy mother-daughter relationship.
Many of the social factors that could potentially hurt a relationship can be managed if mothers and daughters have complete trust. A mother has to be transparent and trustworthy towards her daughter. Similarly, a daughter must be able to trust her mother enough to share her thoughts and feelings, especially when conflict occurs. If the two parties do not communicate, these issues may become more serious over time.
2. Set appropriate and flexible boundaries
It is necessary for parents and their children to set appropriate boundaries for each other, especially to do with each other’s expectations. For instance, a newly-wed daughter may want to discuss setting boundaries about how often she will call and meet her mom.
These boundaries have to be flexible to the other party’s needs in order to minimize conflict, within reason of course. For example, if after getting married the child moves to another state, her mom might want to get in touch more often due to the physical distance between the two women.
3. Establish an emotional connection
Mothers and daughters should try to build a connection emotionally, through care for one another, love, trust, and empathy. A mother takes care of her daughter’s feelings in such a relationship, and a daughter considers her mother’s emotions at the same time.
This connection is key to the relationship, and when it’s gone, conflicts can occur. Although the dynamics of the relationship will evolve over time, it’s still important to maintain this connection no matter how young or old the parents or daughters are.
4. Effective communication in conflict
If a disagreement arises, a mother should listen to her daughter’s complaints and suggestions, show understanding towards her decisions, and speak about her concerns. Similarly, a daughter should also listen to the mother’s advice and learn from her experiences. To avoid the escalation of an existing relationship conflict, this discussion should occur as early as possible.
5. Spend enough time together
A mother and daughter should spend time with each other, because it helps to ensure a healthy relationship. Instead of distancing and ignoring each other, both people should try to spend quality moments to develop a stronger relationship.
Of course, it is also possible for mothers and their daughters to spend too much time together. This can occur when one party has a higher level of attachment. If this occurs and creates issues, counseling is worth considering to help establish a balance.
How can counseling help in resolving mother-daughter conflict?
Expert-level counseling provided by licensed counselors and psychologists can help in resolving these conflicts.
Here’s how therapists help many women work through some of the issues we discussed above.
1. Assessing the root causes of relationship issues
First of all, a therapist assesses the basic cause or causes behind the conflict. They will closely investigate the relationship, and try to address the root cause, which can be related to time, emotional headspace, different expectations, family dynamics, or behavioral issues.
2. Ensure acceptance of responsibility
This refers to helping both people get a clearer understanding of their responsibilities in the relationship, in order to create a healthier bond.
This step is especially important because a mother and daughter are not just friends, so each typically expects more of the other than in a regular friendship. Relationship problems occur when one expects more than is reasonable from the other, or when one person does not engage with their responsibilities in the relationship.
3. Exploring complex mental traumas
Trauma can lead people to internalize feelings of love, empathy, and compassion. Consequently, these feelings are not expressed as strongly as they once were.
Different patterns of mental trauma may exist in different people. A counselor helps to explore complex issues from the past and overcome these issues through psychological therapies.
4. Promoting behavior change
Through psychological therapy, a mental health specialist may promote behavior changes. This is used when it is found that different behavior is needed from one or more participants in order to improve the strength of the relationship.
Behavior changes occur through five different stages: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.
5. Setting practical goals
A counselor will identify practical goals and checkpoints of therapy. A good therapist will promote short-term and easy-to-follow objectives, instead of impractical long-term goals. This helps to show progression towards improving the relationship.
About the author
When people experience mental trauma or face severe stress, their lives can unravel. My job is to help begin the healing process. I help my patients improve their mental health, strengthen relationships with others, and begin to overcome past traumas. I practice a large range of psycho-behavioral therapies, and have more than three years’ experience in clinical psychology and counseling.
In my spare time, I’m also a professional writer who spreads awareness about mental health issues. I have written many articles on this topic over the years for numerous different publications.
My educational background includes an M.B.B.S from the University of Health and Sciences, Lahore, majoring in Behavioral Sciences, and a Bachelors from G.C University, Faisalabad.