My daughter, my ex, and I have been going to see a counselor. This was setup by my daughter’s mother to have my daughter talk to someone about some issues she was having. My ex has been seeing a counselor as relationship counseling with her boyfriend. She wanted my daughter to start seeing someone and we initially agreed to use the same one my ex is using with her boyfriend in their relationship, but now I am skeptical because this just doesn’t seem right. My ex seems to share sometimes about her relationship sessions and the counselor seems to share a little too much. My question is: Is it common for a teenager to see the same counselor as one used by one of her parent’s for their new relationship. Is this really advisable?

There are so many things wrong about this and your concerns are very well-founded. While there are no laws that I know of that would stop a counselor from this type of muddled therapy it certainly doesn’t allow the best and unbiased therapy for your daughter.

While there may be cause for a one-time, or perhaps occasional meeting with a family member (sometimes called caucusing) the on-going nature blurs the boundaries. It is likely to affect what that individual will share, the truth of what is revealed, and the depth. There are plenty of good counselors out there and to give your daughter the best opportunity for safety and her own growth. Having her see someone not conducting therapy with a parent is almost always a better option.

In your daughter’s situation think about the implied concern she could have in revealing information to the counselor. What if she is having an issue with the mother’s boyfriend? What if she has a concern with you? What if she is engaged in a behavior that you support, but her mother and her boyfriend do not? Each of these concerns would require the counselor to be unbiased. Even if he or she were perfectly so it is the perception your daughter would have that the counselor may carry the bias.

Finally, the fact that you are uncomfortable should be enough of a concern. While you haven’t said your daughter’s age, if she is under 18, I believe the parent’s agreement is essential. Under 18 you should have the ability to rule out the counselor if you feel there is a bias. If you are unhappy with what is going on I would voice these concerns with the therapist. It is valid and important to express. If she is over 18, her choice of a neutral therapist should be what determines who she sees.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral