I'm living in a theocratic country, where people have to study religion in schools and universities extensively, no matter the field of study. And holding different views from the mainstream religion can be dangerous.

I am a very irreligious person, and my family is aware of my views, they've been supportive most of the time.

I've recently come back from university to my hometown. I haven't done well this semester, so my mother asked me the reason, and I explained to her about how I have been really depressed, and how I didn't have the power to study. She suggested getting help from a therapist to which I agreed.

The problem was that the 'therapist' she had in mind was a cleric, while I was thinking that I need a psychologist. When I expressed my doubts she insisted that the cleric wasn't 'a radical person' and that he would be able to help me, reluctantly I agreed to meet him.

Admittedly the cleric was more open-minded than I expected but still, I don't think he really had the competence to help solve my problem, and of course ultimately he tried to convince me that the solution to my depression should be 'on a spiritual level'.

Now, I'm an adult, so I can talk to a proper psychologist myself. But my mother doesn't usually react rationally when I refuse her help. The last time I tried that, my life was a living hell for months, until I proved her wrong. She would constantly push me to accept the 'help' she had to offer, and would practically bring up the matter anytime she could. so right now I'm trying to figure out how I should inform her that I won't be seeing her 'therapist' in the future.

  • 1
    Would arranging time with a qualified psychologist likely cost a lot of money? If so, would you or your mother be paying for it?
    – user8671
    Jul 6, 2018 at 10:18
  • @Kozaky If I were to get immediate help, then yes it would cost a lot but I intend to wait until I'm back to the university, where cheap access to psychologists is provided
    – TheStudent
    Jul 6, 2018 at 10:28
  • 4
    Would you really be refusing her help? To me it sounds like you've already accepted, and this may be more about going back on the things you agreed upon with her? If I understood correctly you're asking about how to respond to her pushing you to keep seeing the cleric once you're seeing a psychologist?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Jul 6, 2018 at 11:31
  • 2
    @TheStudent How long will it be before you go back to university? Can you use that as an excuse for not using the cleric?
    – David K
    Jul 6, 2018 at 12:42

2 Answers 2


My mother routinely overreacted in many neutral situations, including ones such as yours. I've found that it is often impossible to find common ground with her on certain topics. As frustrating as it may be, it's important to remind yourself that your mother is trying to do what she thinks is best for you. Avoid taking personal offense whenever she does not react rationally to your decisions. Escalating the situation is the quickest way to "living hell".

You say you are an adult now; it's time to truly own up to that. Communicate with her that you sincerely appreciate her thoughtfulness regarding your mental health, and since you do not feel that your concerns are spiritual in nature, that a professional psychologist/counselor is more appropriate. You could mention that one provided by your university would be more helpful since you are enduring academic difficulties. Another thing you could mention is that you are only in town temporarily, and won't have access to the cleric's services once you leave, so it makes more sense to establish a relationship with a professional from the university.

Alternatively, since your mother seems to care greatly about your mental health, you could try talking to her about your concerns, if you haven't already. Sometimes, advice from your family could be just as constructive, if not better, than a professional's. She may be upset that you do not want to see the cleric because she truly wants to help you, but feels powerless because you outright refuse her help. Either way, give her an opportunity to understand your decisions, and once you have respectfully done so, move forward and do what you know is best for you.


user13232774's answer is really good but you can go a different route as well. You can mention that the cleric is just not a good fit. It may be because you're not religious while the cleric is. It may be because the cleric's style isn't effective to what you need or whatever reason. A bad fit doesn't say anything bad about you, the cleric, nor your mother - who recommended the cleric and may have benefited from the cleric's treatment at one time. Some therapists, using the term loosely in this case, just don't mesh well with some people and that's okay.

You can explain to her that you gave it the "old college try" and it just wasn't right. Also thank her for recommending him. It may help to mention the good parts of the session and how the cleric exceeded your expectations (in that he was more open-minded etc) to help assuage her anxiety and to further cement that her advice wasn't bad, just not a good fit.

This is also a good attitude to have while looking for a therapist at university. I went through three therapists during my academic career. The second one was just awful. A nice man and I would even recommend him to some people, but he was not effective in my mental health. Sometimes things just don't work out and it's not always because of a character flaw in any parties involved.

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