What is the most effective therapy for healing the mother wound
Therapy is a big investment of money, time, energy and most of all vulnerability, so it’s totally natural to ask what is the most effective therapy for healing the mother wound. We want to make sure we’re making the right decision. Let me help you answer this question, and if you think I’m going to convince you that my type of therapy is the best, you’re up for a surprise.
Healing the mother wound takes a particular course of healing. The mother-daughter relationship symbolises something quite particular in a woman’s life: her identity as a woman, her belief system as a woman, her role in society, politics and economics as a woman, and her part in her own legacy and relationships as a woman. To ask yourself what is the most effective therapy for healing the mother is to address some or all of these points.
This might seem like a lot to think about. And if you try to find one therapy method that ticks all the boxes it might be challenging.
There’s another way of getting to the answer to what the best fit for your needs would be, and it’s not in any one therapeutic method.
The therapy method hardly matters
Each therapist is obviously in love with their own therapy method. Why else would they offer this particular therapy method and not another, right?!
I, for instance, am really in love with Hakomi therapy and Buddhist psychology, which is why I use these two as my main therapy and coaching methods.
But I don’t hold the view that my way is the only way or the best way. You know why?
The therapy method is not what you should look for. What’s important is knowing what elements are needed for healing the mother wound. Different therapy methods can give you these elements.
There are there vital elements to healing the mother wound. When you know them you’ll be able to have an answer for what is the most effective therapy for healing the mother wound .
The three most vital elements for healing the mother wound are: relationship, body and compassion.
1. Relational therapy
The mother wound is considered a relational wound. It means that the wound forms within the relationship between a daughter and her main maternal figure, which is often her mother, but not only.
Whether it’s a relationship with the biological or adoptive mother, the grandmother or other significant maternal figure in a woman’s life, the mother wound is about the way the dynamics of this relationship shaped you and the current struggles you have today.
Many women who’ve had a challenging relationship with their mother struggle, for example, with low self esteem, lack of confidence, persistent sense of being not-enough or undeserving. These might seem like issues we need to figure out for ourselves.
However, the breeding ground for these struggles is a relationship with a significant other such as your mother, and therefore need repair and healing in the context of relationships.
A therapeutic space where relationship is a dominant part helps you unhook from many personal struggles that originate in relationships.
In a relational therapy there’s an emphasis on the relationship between you and the therapist as a source for healing. You can learn for example to feel safe to be yourself with others, to express your feelings without fear, to let go of the belief that you’re alone, to set boundaries without feeling guilty about it, and more.
The transformations you experience within this therapeutic relationship lead to significant and lasting change in the way you relate to yourself and therefore transfer to other relationships in your life.
The most commonly known relational therapy is psychotherapy. Hakomi therapy has a strong relational component as well. Psychotherapy’s way of building a relationship is mainly through conversations. Hakomi therapy uses conversations but other ways as well.
Just talking, or focussing only on the relational is not enough. It can very easily feel like talking to a good, wise friend where you start asking yourself what’s the difference between this and a good conversation with your best friend.
Many of my clients have been going to psychotherapy for many years. They frequently share with me that they have reached a great understanding about why they struggle with their particular struggles, why they’re caught in the habits that haunt them. But it pains them that despite the understanding they’re still caught in undesired habits and beliefs.
A focus on understanding ‘why’ in a therapeutic context helps make sense of things that don’t really make sense to us. For example, why we get stuck in abusive relationships or why we’re stuck in a diminishing sense of self in spite of many great accomplishments.
Our society admires intellectual thinking and theories for why things happen the way they do. Reasons ‘why’ can help in creating some order in emotional experiences that can feel messy. To our mind this is very attractive. But with all these merits, the mind is only one part of our existence.
Reasons, theorising, understanding are very limited when it comes to feelings and beliefs. Understanding cannot by itself be enough for healing the mother wound.
This is where the second element needed for healing the mother wound steps in. Body-based therapy methods are able to go the extra mile that conversations alone can’t.
The memories of the past stored in our bodies—not as words but as felt-sensations which turn into beliefs. Conversations and rational understanding of the past are unhelpful for feelings and beliefs. This is especially true when issues you struggle with today such as self-image or getting stuck in unsatisfactory relationships are rooted in early childhood experience.
Early childhood is shaped much more by touch, eye contact, sense of closeness to significant other, your mother’s attunement to your feelings and many other non-verbal gestures. So we really need to use non-verbal therapy methods to respond to these needs.
In Buddhism we speak about the two wings to fly—one of wisdom the other of compassion.
Wisdom is the insights you gain through conversations, mental understanding of therapist as well as body-based practices. Compassion is the companion element to these.
The mother wound is a wound of love. A mother is the ultimate protector in our life, she’s the channel that brought us to life. When this relationship is dysfunctional, if in spite best intentions it cannot provide support to our emotional, spiritual or energetic needs our heart registers a deep sense of being unworthy of love.
In the therapeutic context compassion helps to soften hard edges of the heart. It teaches us how to truly appreciate ourselves and how to care for ourselves.
The mother is a model for patience to our personality, interest in our interests, reassurance of our feelings and needs, all qualities of care we embrace and replicate within ourselves. To relearn a compassionate way of treating ourself the therapy model needs to apply self-compassion techniques.
An emotional and psychological wound that comes from the relationship with your mother needs to address the different levels of our existence—mental, physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. Now you have a road map you can use to answer the question what is the most effective therapy for healing the mother wound.
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Shelly's helping women whose relationship with their mother left a negative mark and want to become un-limited in their personal or professional life