mom talking to her son about his depression

How to Suggest Therapy to Someone You Love

Watching a loved one struggle with a suspected or diagnosed emotional or behavioral disorder can be excruciating. If you know how well treatment can work, you may hope that your loved one will take the brave step of starting therapy. However, in most cases, you cannot force someone to receive behavioral health treatment. Furthermore, therapy is most effective when the patient wants to go through with it.

So how can you help someone you love if you believe he or she could benefit from therapy? It may take a difficult conversation. The following tips can help you make that conversation productive and worthwhile for both of you.

Pay Attention to Tone and Timing

When and how you approach this hard conversation will be as important as the substance of what you say. It’s important to talk to your loved one when he or she is able to think about what you’re saying and respond appropriately. Try not to bombard someone in front of others, while they are working on something else, or in the middle of a particularly volatile moment.

If someone is in the middle of a panic attack, for example, don’t start talking about therapy right away. Instead, help with the immediate needs, then talk about therapy when things have calmed down a bit. When it’s time to talk, be sure your tone is kind and understanding. Use “I” statements, such as, “I have noticed these things and I am worried about you.”

Talk About Your Experience with Therapy

Have you ever bought something or gone somewhere because your friend wouldn’t stop raving about it? Many people have. If you have had success with therapy, be sure the share this with your loved one in need. This has two important benefits:

  1. It lets your loved one know he or she is not alone
  2. You give insight into a frightening, unknown process

You don’t have to recommend your specific therapist. Instead, tell your loved one the things you wish you would have known before you started. Answer any questions that may come up and shine light on a subject that is often talked about in hushed tones.

Clear Up Misconceptions About Therapy

Although stigmas around therapy have started to fall out of favor, many people are still afraid to get the help they need because they hold on to beliefs that aren’t true. For example, some people believe that they aren’t “crazy enough” to benefit from therapy or that counselors judge their clients. Clear up any misconceptions that come up with a soothing tone.

Be Reassuring, Even in the Face of Pushback

No matter how close you are to this person, he or she may feel uncomfortable with you bringing up therapy. Depending on the person’s behavioral health and personality, the pushback can come in many forms. They may be angry, sad, or worried. Whatever pushback you receive, be prepared to respond with kindness and reassurance.

Offer to Help in Whatever Way You Can

As part of the person’s pushback, he or she may offer excuses as to why therapy is not possible. These may also be real obstacles that keep your loved one from getting help. If you want to offer practical help, consider asking your loved one if you can:

  • Help find a therapist or make the appointment
  • Watch children during appointment times
  • Find group therapy or other affordable resources
  • Accompany your loved on to the appointment and wait in the waiting room

These helpful actions not only clear obstacles to getting help, but they also show your loved one how dedicated you are to his or her mental health. If you or anyone in your life needs behavioral health treatments in Georgia, be sure to contact LifeStance Health. We offer many treatment options to fit each person’s unique needs.

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