I am a college student who no longer lives with my parents, but lives in the same town, going to college. I see my parents a lot and have a good relationship with them, and they help me pay my rent, although I pay for all other expenses myself.

Last semester, my mental health dropped significantly and I asked my mother if I could go into therapy. She seemed very supportive, and said she just wanted me to be happy. After several appointments, she asked if I would consider switching to a cognitive behavioral therapist, and we agreed that I would have a few more appointments with my current therapist (who I really like.) I didn't hear from her again, and as I had no interest in switching, I didn't look into it much.

There wasn't ever a discussion about specifics of payment. We overall agreed that she would pay for the first few months, and after that I would pick up the payments. I work a part-time job but definitely don't have a lot of money lying around. I didn't hear about this from her again, until a month ago. She got mad at me for not paying for my own therapy and said that she needed that money for marriage counseling, so I would have to pay for myself from now on. At this point, she also said that I shouldn't talk to my Dad about this because "he would say it is fine, but it's not fine."

From my view, the costs of my appointments per month isn't a lot of money (less than $100). This would be difficult but not impossible for me to afford, but my therapist tells me that my mother hasn't paid for any appointments so far. Today, I texted her and asked if she was planning on paying for any therapy. She said I had promised to pay and that it was "my luxury."

If I had known as I had gone that I would have to be paying, that would be different, as I would have put more hours into work and saved money. As it stands, I don't have any money, particularly because I was busy with school for the last part of the semester. I don't want to discuss the particulars of my mental health with her, as I have trouble expressing those emotions, but trust me when I say therapy is not a luxury, and I don't want to stop going.

How can I convince her to help me pay for the costs of the past few months?

edit: In the end, my dad came to me and told me he was the one to handle money. He told me he would pay for my past appointments if I pay for future ones, and said my mom felt disconnected from me and I should try and talk to her more about my troubles. Next time, I'll go to him, and ignore what my mom said - he doesn't get overemotional and doesn't usually get worked up over money. Thanks for the help, everyone!

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    But... what about talking to your dad? Are you opposed to it for any reason? Jan 4, 2018 at 22:53
  • @LinuxBlanket I don't want to go behind my mom's back when she specifically asked me not too. I would prefer to talk to him, because I know he would respect my choices without needing specific knowledge of my situation, but it would make things a lot worse with my mother.
    – Max
    Jan 4, 2018 at 23:05
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    I assume they do not have a fantastic relationship right now, as she mentioned marriage counselling. Are they separated or divorced? Also, does your father know at all that you went into therapy? Jan 4, 2018 at 23:10
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    @LinuxBlanket They are together, and as far as I can tell they have a good relationship. I didn't tell my father I was going to therapy, but usually if I tell something to one of them, the other gets told. However, I don't actually know if he knows I've been in therapy. Regardless, it would still be going behind my mom's back in her eyes.
    – Max
    Jan 4, 2018 at 23:12
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    I wouldn't ever consider talking to your father as "going behind your mom's back". She has no right to interfere with the relationship between you and your father (unless there is a really, really good reason. Not wanting to pay for your treatment is not a really, really good reason. )
    – gnasher729
    Aug 17, 2018 at 22:26

4 Answers 4


I don't think there's much you can do to force her to pay, and may have to let this be a lesson to trust but verify.

I do however think that you need to have a discussion with her and determine how important she feels your mental health is, and let her know how her breaking the agreement you two had made you feel. Remind her of the agreement without mentioning the specifics of your mental health.

Hey mom, you told me that I had promised to pay for my therapist, but I was under the impression we had come to an agreement that you would help me pay for it while I was with that therapist. Money is tight right now, and I really needed your help to pay for this on top of the other things I need.

Follow up with how it made you feel, and how you feel like your mental well being isn't important to her. If it really isn't you'll know that she isn't the right person to be asking for help, and can go from there.

I talked to the therapist who told me you hadn't paid, and it hurt finding out that you didn't help me when you said you would. I've been having a rough time, and your supporting me was a big boost to my confidence. I feel like you don't care about my mental health after all, and you let me down when it came to support.

Try empathizing with her as well, and try and see where she is coming from. You mentioned her saying something about marriage counseling, so try and help her so she can help you. Working together to overcome these issues is always a better way to go.

I want to help you too, but I feel a bit lost. Even still, I'm here for you if you need me as long as you're there for me too. Let's work together to get through these tough times, ok?

You can end it with something sappy I guess, but maybe that's just me that would do that.

You need to try and get her to feel what you're feeling and do your best to do the same for her. Get her on your side, and let her know that you're not feeling up to snuff and really want her help. She may not end up paying, but you'll have a better understanding of how you can work together to solve the issues you're both having.

  • This was really helpful for figuring out how to structure a conversation. Thanks for your answer, it did make the probably inevitable heart-to-heart seem a lot more manageable!
    – Max
    Jan 4, 2018 at 23:06

The only thing I can recommend doing is explaining what you've explained here, that it's not a luxury but you're not comfortable going into specifics.

I think without opening up to your mother about specifics you'll struggle to convince her of the value of you going into therapy. I personally wouldn't want to pay for something so expensive without a justification for it.

If you can't convince her to pay by explaining this, there's not much else you can do bar opening up. Even by just a small amount.

  • I think I worry that by explaining my situation I open it up to a discussion about if I need therapy. I want to avoid this, as she isn't going to convince me that it doesn't improve my life significantly regardless of her thoughts on the necessity of it. If someone came to you and said they needed help, would you trust them to determine that themselves? (I also have a bad habit of downplaying my own problems to other people)
    – Max
    Jan 4, 2018 at 23:07
  • @Max if the help was a significant financial expense then I'd want to see how it would help them. I think people are fine to determine that they need/want help, whether I am willing to provide that help myself is up to me and not the other person.
    – Hex
    Jan 4, 2018 at 23:16

First of all, it is absolutely your right to not disclose to your mother any particular of your mental health. This is a matter of privacy and you have the absolute right to preserve it. If you feel that you can't talk to it right now but you'll be able to do it in the future, explain it to your mother:

I've not been ok lately. I'd like to explain to you why, but I'm not able to do it, it's too much a delicate issue for me right now. I think I need some more time with my therapist to open up about it.

What's important here is that she promised you her help. You can ask her clarifications about what's happened to that promise. Show concern for her: make her feel that it was important to you by assuming that something relevant must have happened in the last months for her to change her mind. For instance, a sudden change in her finances.

I was so happy when we talked about it the first time, it was such a relief that you were on my side on this! But now I find out that you didn't pay. Mom, is there anything you're hiding from me? Are you having financial issues so you can't afford even 90$ per month out of your salary? I know that you're aware of how much going into therapy is important for me, how much I'm at loss without it.

I won't dig in the following conversation, Anoplexian's excellent answer already covered that and I fully agree with them. If that strategy doesn't work, however, you can resort to ask her to lend you the money. Be ready to sign an official letter in which you commit yourself to give the money back by x months. This resolution may give to your mother an idea of the importance of the therapy for you and she may come back to her former resolution to post it for you.

If nothing of this works, I'd consider talking with your father. I understand your worries, and your desire to be loyal to her is actually quite noble of you, but let's not forget that you wouldn't be in this situation if she hadn't failed to keep her promise. You can ask your father not to talk about the subject to your mother, but this is up to your knowledge of the relationships inside the family.

Good luck!

  1. You are trying to bring questions (to) here--and it does not go unnoticed--which you should bring to the therapist.
  2. If you have a genuine disorder--that means, organic disorder--it is in your best interest to get beyond the sensitivity that leads you to keep it secret even from those closest to you. Yes, it will take a leap of sorts to let go of the self deluded importance of privacy (i.e., secrecy), but are going to find, by the hard way or easy way, that the sharing of such "issues" will be vital in the long run for the best outcomes in dealing with your mental health difficulties. Go ahead, run this--what I am saying now--by your therapist, because I know from peer experience that she or he will agree.
  3. I am not sure if you mentioned your age but, if you are not a minor your, parents--leave alone the difficulties even they have between themselves--have no legal obligation to pay for the counselling to which you have become attached, whether by transference or by the self perception of improvement in your day-to-day functioning. But, that need not stop you from asking &or negotiating....

    You should also appeal to your therapist as regards the various publicly funded programs of which you might avail yourself to assure some measure of reliable steadiness in your mental health funding. There are also, in some states, free interactive services, such as group mentoring, which can prove very helpful, either alone or in conjunction with formal counselling and therapy. Your therapist should have such info but you might need to assert a keen interest on your own part.

3a.- At this point a corollary is in order based on your mother's expressed sense about keeping your father "out of the loop," so to speak. Such a stance on her part regarding a mutually held child's problems which ought to be mutually regarded, strongly suggests that Mother has not, herself, been forthright about her own history of mental problems with her own spouse; if there are blame "issues" in that regard, let us put them aside for the moment (or just let you take them up with the therapist to measure their significance).

Permit me to summarize by advising, that whereas you are seeking help here, you are at the same time placing yourself in a double bind of "secrecy" prevarication that serves to prevent any useful help from materializing. What you are trying to impose on your mother, you in some measure are likewise trying also to impose even here. The help you can derive, in other words, will be largely in proportion as your willingness to be forthright about your "issues" and their underlying causes.

May I recommend that you instead impose upon the therapist for a diagnosis, even if provisional, by which,

  • For one, your difficulties can be taken out of the realm of subjectivity and into that of objectivity;
  • And secondly (but no less importantly) so that you can more readily (a) commiserate and seek aid, monetary or otherwise, from your parent or parents, and (b) direct your efforts at seeking help from like-minded souls, in this or any other personal mental health forum. For example, you could even open a specific, diagnosis related exchange to draw persons in similar, diagnosis-based situations to your aid, and you to their's.
  • Not all genuine psychological disorders have an organic cause (at least not one that is known). This is a sufficiently erroneous and harmful viewpoint that it really isn't worth reading on beyond that parenthetical comment. Aug 20, 2018 at 17:51

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