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TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5823
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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This question is for Kate if two sons go to

Customer Question

This question is for Kate if available. This is Dee.
My two sons go to a psychiatrist for "talk therapy" (although most don't do talk therapy, he is an exception). They've gone for three years so far and are age 18 and 20. My younger is "talented" or seems to have some rare abilities in his math and English skills and has achieved a high SAT score. My older son is also very intelligent and well rounded, mature and is a hard worker. He is trying to find himself in the world and in a higher academic arena and takes his life seriously. However, My older son shared some information with me. He found out from my younger son that the psychiatrist told him he could easily make 200 plus a year. Yet,the psychiatrist also told older son that he could easily make 100 plus a year. He also at another session told my older son that the younger son was going to be very successful, yet didnt elaborate on his own (the older) ones success.
. Although the salary differentiation may reflect the fact that my younger son wants to go into psychiatry, my older son feels as though he the psychiatrist has higher expectations and abilities of my younger son and lower expectations and abilities of himself. He also felt as though he was telling him he would be good at talk therapy and has high emotional intelligence. (but implied he may not be good at psychiatry, but didn't say it directly). unlike my younger one who he feels should excel in psychiatry. He did tell my older son that it's not those with high SAT scores that succeed the most, it's those who work the hardest. He also told him not to compare himself with the younger brother who has rare talents because too much comparison is a detriment to his health. Yet, this does not appease him because he still feels upset because he continues to carry the gut feeling based in indirect statements and body language that the psychiatrist has lower expectations and abilities for him than than my younger son.
Advice appreciated on what he can say to the psychiatrist, and how he can regain his own confidence and abilities despite his brothers "talents".
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Josie-Mod replied 4 years ago.
Hi, I am a Moderator for this topic. I sent your requested Professional a message to follow up with you here, when she is back online. If I can help further, please let me know. Thank you for your continued patience.
Expert:  TherapistMaryAnn replied 4 years ago.
Hi Dee,

It is surprising that this psychiatrist is comparing your sons at all. For one, judging your sons, their abilities and the validity of the SAT test to judge anything is out of his expertise. And your sons did not present to the psychiatrist with issues around the intelligence and their future earning abilities. They are there for other reasons.

It sounds like this psychiatrist is offering his personal opinion on your sons abilities intellectually, which is not something he needs to be doing. There is a line in counseling that includes not offering your personal opinion about your client's situation. You are there to help them deal with their presenting issue and any other issue that they bring up during therapy. To bring this up, compare your sons and assume they would not talk about this at home, creating hurt and pain for at least one of your sons is hurting them, is not helping them but hurting them instead.

You may want to talk to the psychiatrist about what this is doing to your sons. Let him know that his comments are causing them to compare themselves to each other, creating hurt for one of your sons and not fostering a healthy relationship between the two because of the comparisons. You can also consider having your sons talk to another therapist (Master's level or PhD) which might also be an option. They can see a psychiatrist if they choose, but they really only need a therapist, unless they are taking medications.

Your son may need to stop seeing this psychiatrist as well. If he is feeling hurt by his comments, then the damage may be done to the relationship to the point that your son may no longer benefit from the counseling. He may not be able to get past the personal opinion of him that the psychiatrist has and therefore, the trust may be lower or gone totally. So talk to him about the possibility of seeing someone that his brother does not see.

Also, help him rebuild is confidence by letting him make a choice on who to see (giving him some control), and letting him know that this is one person's opinion, which does not make it right. Let him know you feel he and his brother are equally intelligent. He can also use books and on line resources to help him build confidence. However, depending on how much damage was done to him by the psychiatrist, it may take more therapy from someone else to help him through this.

TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5823
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
TherapistMaryAnn and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you Kate. I appreciate your answer.
First, he is going to try and talk to the psychiatrist and work it out.
I'll keep you posted. We read your entry together and found it helpful.
Expert:  TherapistMaryAnn replied 4 years ago.

You're welcome! Let me know how it goes. I hope the psychiatrist is willing to listen and work it out.