1. Don’t Be a Hero
The most important thing to remember when telling someone you think they need therapy is remembering that you are talking to them for their sake, not your own. If you think a loved one needs therapy for whatever reason, then he or she is not going to want to see you acting as a leader for them. You are a part of this person’s life, so you should try to stay on equal ground, and put their needs first. Convincing them that they might need therapy should allow them to approach it on their own terms, in their own way. Congratulating yourself can seem selfish, and a personality like that could be part of the reason he or she might need therapy in the first place.
2. Eliminate Your Reasons
Talking to someone about getting therapy is only a decision you can make, and you need to decide whether the person actually might need therapy, or if you are only seeing part of the situation. It is very possible that your loved one could need help, but it’s also possible that the troubles you see are just part of his or her personality, or you could only be seeing the bad side of a balanced situation. You have to carefully decide if the problems you see are inflated because of your own worry about the situation or whether there are legitimate issues. Lessening your own reasons and desires will better help you figure out what help you can do for your loved one.
3. Be Friendly and Patient
Chances are, your loved one is not going to want to talk about therapy, as he or she would’ve already sought it out if they did. But if you are going to talk to them about the possibility of it, the best thing you can do is remain friendly and patient. It’ll probably be a long conversation, and a frustrating one. It will take a long time and it might be inconclusive, so patience is necessary. Your loved one will be more receptive if you show your love and your willingness to make a commitment to the conversation. Ordering someone to seek therapy is only going to hurt the situation.
4. Erase Any Stigma About Therapy
An initial reaction to hearing that you may need therapy might be a feeling of failure. So you, as the person starting the conversation, have to help your loved one to understand that seeking therapy is not a sign of weakness. It is a common practice, and there is no shame in seeking help from professionals. Your loved one might need some convincing that attending therapy is not shameful and does not make them weak, but is rather intended to help them become strong again. Treat your loved one not as a failure, but as someone who may just need a little help or guidance, and they might be more willing to accept help.
5. Know Something About Therapy
Your conversation might be more convincing if you do a little research on therapy. You can look up what type of therapy might be relevant for your loved one, and a few other possibilities if he or she declines the first one. Research therapists in the area, and maybe meet with them before you talk to your loved one, so you can say something about the help he or she could be getting. Also, you could give a few statistics on people in therapy, how many people are in therapy and how common it really is. Having facts like this can make the conversation feel more personalized and warm and will hopefully make your loved one feel more comfortable.
6. Offer Extended Help
If you’re going to be the one to decide to have the conversation, then you should commit to helping further, too. Your loved one might feel abandoned and change their mind if they have you for the original conversation but have to approach therapy alone. Offer to accompany them, if you can find a time that works mutually. If you can, even offer to pay for the first few sessions. The transition into therapy needs to feel as comforting as possible for your loved one. After that transition, the therapist can take over. Your loved one might have some odd requests, and you should be ready to help if you are able to.
7. It Is Ultimately Not Your Decision
You can never know for sure how your loved one will act to your suggestion of therapy. What you can remember is that it should ultimately be his or her decision. The time may not be right, and your loved one could deny any help. You shouldn’t be using any force in the conversation; pushing the other away is the last thing you want to do. If, after everything, your loved one still denies seeking help, then remain confident and friendly and continue to help him or her. The time might be right later on for another conversation, or your loved one might reach the decision on their own. But if he or she refuses to seek therapy, do not push hard. Accept it and continue to be there. Therapy can be a difficult subject, and there’s no saying how anyone will react to it.
Once you have this important conversation, know that we are here to help. Your friend or loved one will be matched with a therapist that meets their needs. Call today to schedule your free consultation (800) 972-0643. Grace Counseling offers individual, couples and family counseling as well as Intensive Outpatient Programs for Substance Abuse, Mood Disorders, Adolescents, Women’s Issues, and Binge Eating Disorder.