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Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1168
Experience:  Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
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My 19 year old daughter is in college 2500 miles away and is

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My 19 year old daughter is in college 2500 miles away and is depressed. She was depressed at home too so she thought going away from home would help. It did for a while but not long term. She is very outgoing, friendly, makes friends very quickly, guys are always wanting to date her, etc. However, the friends she makes and the guys who want to date her are almost always someone who needs fixing. The friends are usually gay or lesbian, really heavy, emotionally ill, socially awkward, etc. Her sister is a year older and also causes her distress. Her sister is academically gifted, very attractive (although the 19 year old is also attractive,) and the guys who want to date her are "normal." The 19 year old kind of looks down her nose at behaviors I consider normal for people her age-people who are shallow, social climbers, religiously judgmental, etc. About 18 months ago, she met a guy online who was really good for her for a while. She met him through Twitter and then developed a phone relationship which was all consuming. She was madly in love. Having never met him personally, she set up several meetings but he was always unable to meet her. All of her friends warned her that he wasn't who he seemed to be but she became very upset-even severing tires with one of her true "normal" friends (the friendship is now back and good.) Finally, my husband drove her 13 hours to meet the guy-and he was a middle aged man with a wife and kids. She has never spoken of it other than a few texts or emails but they are always very vague. After she left his house, he texted her and said he was at the house but just didn't want to come out. I really think she's hanging on to this hope that he's real.
My daughter has kept in close contact with me through the year and now she wants to talk to someone professional. She saw a counselor in junior high who really helped her but then the counselor moved away. Can you give me guidance to give her through the rest of the semester and then can you tell me who would be best for her to talk to?? I'm not clear on who she should see-a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist who another I'm unaware of. As an educator, I have had interactions with professionals that I believe do more harm than good. Any help would be appreciated.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. L replied 5 years ago.

Dr. Levang :

Good Morning,

Dr. Levang :

I would like to help you with your question.

Dr. Levang :

I am sorry this is happening to your daughter...and to you and your husband. It is very difficult to parent from a distance and to feel that you have all the information you need to be supportive and helpfu. That is life...

Dr. Levang :

The situation with the person she met on line had to have been so hurtful and disgusting. That you daughter doesn't talk about it suggests that she felt shamed and had no way to deal with the hurt, frustration and let down.

Customer:

I agree. When she's at school, she misses me a lot but not all the heartaches. When she comes home,, she is really anxious to get back to school She has even said, she thinks she's homesick for a life that doesn't exist.

Dr. Levang :

Seeing a therapist would be a good option. Every college and university has a counseling department where students can be seen. Depending on the school...it could be individual counseling or group counseling. Would this be something you would like to explore for now?

Customer:

Yes but she prefers to see one back around home since she's going to be returning within a month.

Dr. Levang :

Okay- waiting until she gets home makes sense. I would encourage you to do some interviewing of prospective therapists until you find someone that you feel comfortable with and in whom you trust their skills.

Dr. Levang :

If you go to www.psychologytoday.com

Customer:

Thank you for that. My elder daughter went a psychologist her first year of college and the woman, I feel, was totally off base. She tried to lay blame on my husband and me for my daughter's issues without making my daughter accountable for her own part. I'll check into that site.

Dr. Levang :

You will find a list of therapists in your area. Read through the biographies. Pick out a few people you feel fit the bill. Then call on the telephone. Explain what you are looking for, ask what their experience is with this issue and with young adults. If you find someone you feel comfortable with over the phone, then ask for a free session. Any good therapist worth their salt will give you a free session. Then interview them face-to-face...do you find them trustworthy? Do they understand the situation?

Customer:

Should I interview them by myself or with my daughter?

Dr. Levang :

I am sad to admit that there is a wide range of competencies in the mental health field. I encourage people to look for the highest degreed individual with listed competencies that fit the issue. So...for your daughter I would look for someone who deals with young adults, someone with a Ph.D., and someone who deals with relationship issues.

Dr. Levang :

Ask your daughter what her preference is. If she wants you to do the intitial interviewing...that is fine. Also...ask her if she would prefer to see a male or a female, older person or younger person. Little details like this make a difference in one's level of comfort. This is someone she will be telling very private things to and she needs to feel that this person will listen and will be helpful.

Customer:

ok. Thank you for your guidance. I've already logged onto the site and will go from there. I appreciate your insight. :)

Dr. Levang :

As to what to do for now...the best thing you can do is to support her feelings and tell her that you are behind her 100%.

Dr. Levang :

I applaud you and your husband for taking her to see the person she met on-line. Even though that had to been horrifying...it showed that you listen, care, and want the best for her.

Customer:

That's pretty much what I've been doing but I sometimes feel she relies too heavily on me. Also, when I don't say what she wants to hear, she cuts me off. When she was home for spring break, I discussed this with her--also her tendency to judge people so harshly.

Customer:

No one except my husband, my daughter and I know about the results of the visit to the "boyfriend" However, she did tell my other daughter he wasn't who he said he was but gave her no details. The older daughter called me worriedly one day saying that the 19 year old called him recently and wanted me to know-in confidence. I haven't done anything about it because I'm not supposed to know. The person he portrayed himself to be was so perfect that I think she's having a hard time letting go of that person. It's like a breakup with someone who didn't exist. I can't imagine how hard it must be for her.

Dr. Levang :

For now, she needs reassurance. It's tough being a young adult these days...lots of pressures. Also remember this fact...the brain does not reach maturation until late 20s. So...to some degree she is still an immature young person who needs guidance. She likely will not agree with this...but it is true...so as parents we need to just keep that little fact in the back of our mind and allow our kids to still make mistakes and learn from them. Sometimes the best teacher is life itself!

Customer:

I couldn't agree more with your last statement! My husband and I, but my husband moreso, has tried to fix everything possible for them. I have repeatedly talked to him about making them face life but he can't help trying to fix things---such as setting up jobs for them, giving them benefits most people don't get, more money that's necessary for clothing, etc. I think our difference of opinions on how to raise children hasn't been healthy but probably my ability to let him have his way has been more unhealthy.

Dr. Levang :

Yes...I have worked with other young adults who have had a similar experience. Unfortunately they put so much energy into the fantasy...believing that they have found the one true love...and then when it isn't true they have such difficulty dealing with reality.

Dr. Levang :

Infatuation is such a strong feeling in young people. They want to be loved so badly...and there is so much pressure to be in a relationship.

Customer:

I agree 100%. She so desperately wants to fit in with just a little edge over the rest of the crowd. Fantasy is alive and well in her life.

Dr. Levang :

Go easy on yourself mom! We have socialized men into believing that they are the protectors and defenders of the family. We count on them to fix everything. And so he is doing what he believes is right for his children. But...absolutely...there are some pitfalls in not allowing children to be responsible and in making life just a little too easy.

Customer:

Well, I appreciate that. It's just too bad we don't get to raise children and then go back and redo all the mistakes!

Dr. Levang :

On the one hand, you don't want to rob her of that ability to be creative and to have zest, passion, and enthusiasm for life....but on the other hand you also want her to deal with reality! This on-line stuff is not real!

Dr. Levang :

I couldn't agree more....do over's would be so wonderful!!!

Dr. Levang :

That's what having grandchildren is about! Getting to love with abandonment and not worrying so much about the long term impact!

Dr. Levang :

I hope this chat has been helpful. Feel free to come back to this chat if you would like. Or..you can always post again to me by putting my name in the opening sentence. Then...your question will come directly to me.

Dr. Levang :

Is there any more help I can give you right now?

Customer:

Thank you!!! I've sent her a page of several therapists for her to look over. Hopefully she'll find someone who looks like she'd like to talk to. You've been a great help. That's it for now!!! Have a great Sunday.

Dr. Levang :

I am glad I could help you...and your daughter!

Dr. Levang :

Take care!

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