How Therapy For Single Moms May Transform Lives

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia
Updated February 20, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Note: Although a single parent of any gender may experience the challenges explored in this article, this article will focus on therapy for single mothers and the challenges a single mother may face. If you’re seeking support as a single father or parent, you can also reach out for guidance from a support group or group therapy in your area by contacting your doctor or therapist for a referral or looking for a counseling center near you. 

Being a single mom often comes with obstacles and challenges, including but not limited to managing mental health and balancing the demands of parenting. Mental health challenges like anxiety, depression, and burnout can be common among single parents.

Therapy may offer numerous benefits for single parents, providing them professional support and guidance as they navigate the complexities of parenthood. A therapist may help a parent with self-care strategies, parenting skills, and managing the emotional challenges of single parenting, among other topics. 

If you're a single parent, it may be helpful to look at the unique aspects of therapy, including how it works, the importance of co-parenting, and approaches to managing anxiety and depression.

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Mental health challenges single parents may face

Single mothers often face mental health and life challenges that may involve juggling aspects of their personal lives while caring for children. Some single moms may lack the social or financial support to tackle these challenges, which can compound stress and impact their mental health.

Common struggles faced by single parents may include the following. 

Increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression

Single parents often experience heightened stress due to the demands of raising children independently, leading to higher risks of anxiety and depression. Being a single parent often means balancing multiple responsibilities and roles. The pressure of handling situations alone can make single parents more prone to experiencing adverse symptoms. These symptoms can affect their emotional health and may make it difficult to care for their children in the way they might prefer or intend. 

Socioeconomic stresses

On top of being the sole caregiver, single parents are often solely responsible for household expenses. This financial pressure can sometimes lead to a lower quality of life, increased stress, and limited opportunity to important resources like healthcare, education, and nutritious food for their family.

Lack of social support

Some single parents feel isolated because they may not have friends or family members who understand their unique challenges. This lack of social support can make it more difficult to manage the daily demands of raising children and maintaining a household, leading to increased loneliness and emotional distress.

Co-parenting challenges

Working with an ex-partner to co-parent can be emotionally draining and stressful. Single parents may face disagreements on child-rearing practices or legal battles over custody and child support, which can negatively affect their mental health.

Limited time for self-care

Between caring for their children, managing the household, and working, single parents often have little time for themselves. This lack of personal time can make it challenging for them to engage in self-care activities like exercise, relaxation, or hobbies, which are beneficial for maintaining mental, physical, and emotional health.

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Self-care strategies single parents may learn in therapy 

There are several ways single parents may benefit from therapy. Therapists in many modalities teach the importance of self-care, including the following forms. 

Physical self-care

Physical self-care can involve addressing health concerns to ensure optimal daily functioning. It can include getting enough rest, eating healthy foods, drinking enough water, and exercising. It may also be helpful for single parents to create and stick to a routine that incorporates these aspects to maintain their physical health.

Setting realistic goals and expectations is another skill with which therapists can support parents. Single parents may break down their physical health goals into smaller, achievable steps, such as taking short, daily walks or engaging in home workout routines. Single parents may boost their motivation and self-confidence by making gradual, sustainable changes and celebrating daily victories.

Emotional self-care

Emotional self-care is the process of acknowledging and processing one's feelings. It may involve seeking counseling or therapy, using online resources, or practicing mindfulness to manage anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. Single parents often aim to identify and address negative cycles to help safeguard their self-esteem and emotional health.

Emotional self-care can involve setting boundaries and learning to say "no" when necessary. Single parents can sometimes become overwhelmed by taking on too many tasks and responsibilities, which can negatively affect their emotional health. 

Single parents may foster a balanced life and reduce stress by setting healthy boundaries and asserting their needs. Practicing regular self-reflection and journaling may also help these individuals better understand their emotions, allowing them to address and manage emotional challenges with their family members. 

Social self-care

Social self-care focuses on building and maintaining a supportive network of relationships for encouragement during challenging moments. It may include honoring commitments to others, asking for help when needed, and actively seeking opportunities to meet new people. Single parents can prioritize nurturing connections with friends, family members, and co-parents to maintain their mental and emotional well-being.

Caregivers may also benefit from joining support groups, clubs, or organizations that cater to their interests or parenting needs. These groups can provide a safe space for single parents to connect with others who go through similar experiences, allowing them to form new friendships and find encouragement in facing their daily challenges. Participating in community events and volunteer opportunities can also sometimes help single parents expand their social circles and build a strong network of support.

Potential benefits of therapy for single parents

Therapy may offer a wide range of benefits for single parents and mothers who face unique challenges related to mental health, parenting, and self-care. It often provides a supportive environment to address challenges like stress, burnout, anxiety, and depression. Therapy sessions may help clients develop resilience when managing various parental challenges while providing care and emotional support for their children.

You might struggle to find space in your schedule for an in-person therapy session if you're a single parent. In these cases, working with an online therapist through a platform like BetterHelp may result in more convenient scheduling options. The convenience of online therapy and personalized treatment plans online therapy offers may be an effective solution for those seeking therapy for parenting-related concerns. You may also find online counseling in the form of couples therapy on platforms like ReGain if you are experiencing relationship challenges as a single parent. 

One study found that online cognitive-behavioral therapy can be an effective solution for managing mental health conditions like anxiety for single parents seeking support. When you work with an online therapist, you can receive interactive worksheets, unique advice, and personalized care. 

Takeaway

Single parents often face numerous challenges, including balancing their mental health, parenting responsibilities, and self-care. Mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and burnout are common among single parents, which can significantly impact their health and parenting abilities. 

If you're a single parent facing stress, you're not alone. However, resources are available. Consider contacting a licensed therapist online or in your local area.

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