More moms are finally reaping the benefits of therapy—and so are their kids

More women are seeking therapy now
Lucas Ottone/Stocksy

Finding time to ensure your needs are met while you’re meeting the millions of needs of everyone else around you feels overwhelmingly impossible for moms more often than not. But what happens when we take care of ourselves and meet our needs? The core tenet of Motherly is as simple as it is powerful: when mothers thrive, families and communities thrive.

Because when we’re prioritizing our own needs, there are a multitude of benefits—and not just for ourselves. For our kids and spouses, too. Therapy is one way to do that, and more moms than ever before are finding value in therapy sessions.

In Motherly’s State of Motherhood survey last year, we found an increase in the percentage of moms who have sought mental health therapy in the past year—to 46% from 43% in 2022.

In fact, more mothers are utilizing more therapy sessions than ever before, with 18% saying they have attended 11 or more therapy sessions this past year compared to 15% who reported 11 or more in 2022.

What’s driving the increase in therapy for moms?

Well, that’s subjective, of course. But our data shows a 10% increase in mothers becoming stay-at-home parents in 2023 due to unaffordable childcare and changes in employment status, moms have a lot on their plate—mentally and emotionally.

“I’m so grateful for my therapist and ability to have access to mental healthcare. It helps me to be a better mother. I wish everyone had the same accessibility.” – Amanda L.

Motherly’s 2023 State of Motherhood survey

The issues are the same as reported last year, with anxiety (32%), depression (12%), relationship (16%) and postpartum issues (15%) topping the list of reasons for seeking mental health support.

How therapy makes moms better parents

study published in Development and Psychopathology, conducted jointly by researchers at the University of Rochester Mt. Hope Family Center and the University of Minnesota Institute of Child Development, concluded that mothers who receive psychotherapy benefit enormously—and so do their children.

According to the study, the moms who received therapy became better at parenting while their kids’ developmental measures also dramatically improved.

The research discovered that lessening the mothers’ depression meant improved attachment security for their children. Overall, the researchers found that post-treatment the moms in the study became better at reading and understanding their children’s temperament, essentially making them better parents, while the children became less fussy and angry, making them easier to parent.

According to Handley, part of the improvement is a result of shifting the mother’s vantage point. Moms who view their kids as difficult tend to engage in harsher forms of parenting, she says, which down the road can lead to more problematic behavior in the children.

“If you can change the moms’ lens in the way that they see their children, then you can set the kids off on a more positive trajectory,” says lead researcher Elizabeth Handley. “Rose-colored lenses are preferable to gray ones, because a positive perception of their children is actually predictive of better outcomes later in life.”

Other ways going to therapy helps moms

Aside from helping you with your feelings of anxiety and depression, the benefits of therapy for anyone—especially moms—are plentiful.

  • Moms who attend therapy can feel less alone; a therapist can help validate your feelings while helping you recognize that mental health struggles and conflicting emotions about motherhood are totally normal.

  • It allows you time to truly focus on yourself with no distractions. It’s basically the definition of “me time.”

  • It gives you the gift of being present. When you’re focusing on yourself in your therapy sessions, you can work through any issues that are taking up space in your mind. This allows you the freedom and energy you need to be present in the moment, without as many distractions and stressors as usual.

  • Going to therapy means you have a support system outside of friends and family. They’re impartial, non-biased, and there for you without judgment.

Therapy can give moms the outlet and coping tools we need to alleviate our mental health issues, therefore allowing us to be more in tune and sensitive to our children’s needs and our own. It’s mutually beneficial and gives everyone in the family a chance to respond more patiently and positively to one another—it’s no wonder more moms (who are able and have access to do so) are choosing to make time for therapy.

A version of this article was published in May 2023. It has been updated.