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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10643
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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Hi, I have an 18 year old daughter and we have had communication

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Hi,
I have an 18 year old daughter and we have had communication issues for quite some time now.
It seems that she is convinced that I think she is a bad girl. No matter how much I tell her that this is not true, she is convinced. So, no matter what I say, everything is filtered by these thoughts and re-interpreted to fit her conclusions. What she said is that, basically, in my communications with her, I am always trying to stay clear of what I really think of her and try to present things in a good light. But my "real" motives are not spoken.
I said I believe that she filters what I say and that she needs help with that. She took that to mean that I think she is a bad person, that she is the problem.She even put a huge sign on her bedroom door saying "The Problem".
She said that she believe that I am the one with the problem, that I always think bad of her and constantly criticize her.
I am at a loss about what to do to help her. Nothing I can say makes a difference... And as far as suggesting counseling, she sees that as more re-inforcement that I think she is bad.
I have tried to go to seek help along with her, saying that "We have a communication problem" but so far, it hasn't helped much either.
She has not really allowed me to hug her for a very long time (like a few years...)

How can I help her?

Dr. Z :

Hello

Dr. Z :

I believe I can help you with your concern

Dr. Z :

I am so sorry that your daughter feels this way, I can imagine how distressing this is for her and for you because it is not true.

Customer:

Hi,

Customer:

it really is distressing. And I have no real clue why she feels that way

Dr. Z :

It sounds like your daughter is going through a mild-moderate depression and has low self-esteem. This type of depression can cause her to view the world in a negative way and perceive everything against her. Here is a good diagram to illustrate what I mean

Dr. Z :

So yes I definitely feel that she is perceiving something that is not there and it appears most likely it is caused by depression.

Customer:

I have not though of her as depressed - although this runs in the family.

Customer:

My 21 year old son is currently dealing with this issue

Dr. Z :

Low self-esteem is usually just a mild depression, so many over symptoms would not be present.

Customer:

I don't know how I could go about getting her seen for this. She already has really bad feeling about her brother and if I say that she might be having the same issue as he has, she will not take that very well

Dr. Z :

I understand, and you do not have to use the word depression with her or low self-esteem if you do not want to. Since she is seeing a counselor with Epilepsy Toronto (and Epilepsy has been known to cause some mood symptoms like low self-esteem too), she may be open to some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques to help her think more objectively about the situation. CBT has a premise that your symptoms are caused by negative thoughts, so if we change your thought process to be more positive and objective as well, then your symptoms will lessen.

Dr. Z :

I can show you some techniques if you like?

Customer:

I'm open to anything that would help.

Dr. Z :

So this link may help you, it contains a technique I use with patients called a thought record. It will help her keep track of any negative thoughts she has. She puts the negative thought on paper, the emotion accompanying, the evidence to support it, and the evidence against it. Then I want her to come up with an alternative thought for the situation (more objective and plausible). This will help her change her way of thinking to be able to think more positive and not automatically go to a negative type of thinking.

Dr. Z :

Also this technique is good at replacing self-critical thoughts that she may have, with more positive self-beliefs

Dr. Z :

In addition, these two worksheets are very good at helping lessen any possible depressive symptoms. It can help her focus on the big picture and the objective/positive thoughts and outcomes.

Dr. Z :

Also individuals with some mild depression have a poor coping mechanism, so this worksheet will help her develop a better coping strategy to manage her symptoms better.

Dr. Z :

In addition, these books are very effective as well.

Customer:

oh my.... :-)

Dr. Z :

In addition to presenting these with her, is that you can do them too. So while you say that you have a miscommunication issue, use the pronouns "we" and "us" a lot to show that you and her a team and will work on this together.

Dr. Z :

No one will get blame and both of you have an equal part in this

Customer:

I will bring the sheets with me for our next appointment with the counselor and, hopefully, some of it can be "suggested" by her

Dr. Z :

Sure, CBT is very effective in helping individuals with these issues because right not she is focusing on a negative thought process and I think she has to see things more objectively

Customer:

I have tried all along to use "we" and "us" statements. And then, yesterday I told her I think that she filters what I say because I very often feel that I can't reach her, that she doesn't hear what I am trying to say. So even when I try to present things with the "we" angle, she still feels that I am attacking her.

Dr. Z :

I understand, these worksheets will force her to think about those alternative thoughts on "We" and "Us" and will gradually help her realize that you are not against her

Customer:

And when she feels attacked or judged, her response is a very aggressive one. Not physically aggressive but her tone, her words (and oh my... how many words) are quite forceful. For a long time, when she gets that way, I just retreat and hope for a better outcome another day. Another hasn't come yet...

Dr. Z :

This a defense mechanism she has by being aggressive in her responses to you. Eventually with these techniques and with therapy it will change hopefully, but it does take time. I am assuming she is on an anti-convulsant medication, may I ask which one?

Customer:

sorry about the delay. my boss came and asked me something... she is on Lamotrigine

Dr. Z :

Okay, that is a very good medication and it actually is also used to treat resistant depression and unipolar depression, so it is possible her mild depression may be worse without this medication.

Customer:

oh my...Is this the kind of things that can be triggered by a bad event? The reason I am asking is that, when she was 15 years old, she had been going out with a boyfriend for about 1 year. They had a very sudden breakup (his parents basically told their son he needed to break things off). This was very hard of her. Then the epilepsy started just a few months after that. And a lot of the behavior did too (although, to be fair, some of the aggressive responces were there before that as well)

Dr. Z :

Well the epilepsy most likely was not triggered by this event, although stress can be a trigger she must have been susceptible to it by genetic factors. Now this event can cause her low self-esteem and issues with her self-confidence, that is very true.

Dr. Z :

Teenagers have very fragile psyches, this is why depression and low self-esteem are seen more commonly in this population

Customer:

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. It helps. I will talk with our counselor on Friday (I think I will send her a copy of this chat too). Hopefully, with all the help around her, she can find her way to better health and a more positive outlook on herself.

Dr. Z :

Anytime, I am always happy to help. I wish your daughter the best and I hope you two can repair this relationship swiftly. My goal is to provide you with excellent service, so if you ever have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me at anytime.

Customer:

how would I do that? It is my first time using this service and I am not truly sure how it works...

Dr. Z :

How would you contact me in the future? Well before any question you can put "For DoctorZ Only" to make sure it goes directly to me.

Customer:

ok Thanks again for the help

Dr. Z :

You are most welcome :) I hope you have a pleasant rest of your day

Dr. Z and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you