"As we devote ourselves to nourishing [our children] and understanding who they are, these live-in teachers, especially in the first ten to twenty years of our "training," will provide endless moments of wonder and bliss, and opportunities for the deepest feelings of connectedness and love. They will also, in all likelihood, push all our buttons, evoke all our insecurities, test all our boundaries, and touch all the places in us where we fear to tread and feel inadequate or worse."
--Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn, Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting

I have worked with parents for over 30 years, as a teacher, parent educator, and more recently as a psychotherapist. In the last 25 years, especially since becoming a mother myself, I have developed a passion for working with issues related to motherhood. During this time I have led support groups for new mothers called The New Mom’s Connection, and have specialized in working with mothers of children of all ages, in my private practice.
Some of the issues that women come to see me about are:

  • Depression or Anxiety during pregnancy or the post-partum period, or while parenting young children.
  • Difficulty finding the balance between care for self and care for children, or for moms working outside the home, the balance between home and work. When this balance is off, women often experience depression, exhaustion, a loss of their sense of self, and an overall feeling of depletion.
  • Uncharacteristic outbursts of anger toward their children. This is more common than any of us realize because there are very few places to talk about it.
  • Unresolved difficult/traumatic experiences from the woman’s past, which resurface when she becomes a mother. Being a parent opens us up on a whole new level. What that means is that unfinished business from our own growing up often rears its head as we parent little ones. Some women find that past and present difficulties with their own parents are heightened as they make the transition to motherhood themselves.
  • A difficult or more challenging relationship with one of their children (no matter their age) This is a complex issue often related to temperament, attachment issues, and other stresses. Again, it can be difficult to admit, but talking about it can allow for deeper understanding of the issues involved, and can clear the way for an easier, more fulfilling connection.
  • Struggles with control, perfectionism or unrealistically high-standards for oneself, in life, and as a mother. This often leads to feelings of falling short, being different, and somehow not good enough.  

The good news is that therapy can help with all of these issues. As painful or challenging as they can be in the moment, there is hope for change, for growth, for deeper understanding, for compassion for yourself, and for repair within your relationships with your children.

A note about my work with mothers:
I do not approach this work from any particular parenting philosophy.  While I certainly bring my training and expertise in child development, attachment, and trauma to my work with mothers, I am very supportive of different styles of mothering. My job is not to tell you how to mother, but to help you uncover the answer to the following question--What makes you the best mother that you can be?  The answer to that question is different for every woman who comes to see me.
I am especially interested in creating a safe place for women to talk about the realities of being a mother –-both the awe and the ambivalence. In our culture, there is ample support for moms to talk about the magic of motherhood, their love for their children, and the amazing joy these little beings bring to our lives. However, there is not always a place to talk about the more challenging and painful aspects of being a mother. Women often keep these more difficult experiences to themselves, thinking that no other mother has thought that thought, or felt that feeling. This can lead to a sense of aloneness, self-doubt and shame. It’s not just okay to talk about these experiences, it’s very, very important to talk about them. And, in the safety of a supportive, non-judgemental therapy relationship, it can be very healing.

Catie McDowell, P.C.

Licensed Marriage &
Family Therapist


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