mom talking to her son about his depression

Does Someone You Love Need Therapy? Here’s How You Can Help

If someone you love shows symptoms of a mental illness or behavioral disorder, it can be hard to know what to do. You may be afraid for the person’s physical and emotional well-being. When you feel like therapy could help your loved one through this trying time, you may wish he or she would start going. Of course, you typically cannot force someone to begin counseling.

Therapy works best when the patient is actively engaged and wants to go through it. So, how do you get your loved one to that point? You may need to have a difficult conversation with that person and keep the lines of communication open. These tips can help you ensure that conversation is both productive and kind.

Your Timing and Tone are Important

The setting and tone in your voice will make all the difference when you decide to have this conversation. Try not to start talking about therapy in front of other people or while the person is preoccupied with other tasks. Importantly, it’s often best to avoid talking about therapy in the middle of an acute episode, such as a panic attack. Instead, try to get your loved on the immediate help he or she needs, then discuss therapy when they are safe.

Your tone will be equally important as the timing. As counselors often suggest, use “I statements” to convey your meaning. For example, you might say, “I think therapy could help,” rather than, “You need therapy.” No matter what you say, be sure that you’re always kind and never judgmental.

Be Open About Your Therapy Experiences

For most services and products, word-of-mouth recommendations are the best way to get people to buy. Similarly, sharing your own experiences with therapy can help your friend realize how helpful it can be. Knowing someone has been helped by therapy builds trust between you and makes your loved one feel less alone.

Furthermore, you can give your loved one some insight into a process that they may fear. Be sure to shed light on therapy and answer any questions they may have. Being open about your experiences–the struggles and successes–can be instrumental in helping someone else get help.

Bust Myths About Behavioral Health Treatments

As you share your experiences about therapy and talk about counseling in general, some misconceptions may come up. Although society has come a long way in accepting behavioral health treatments, many myths persist. Be sure to clear up these misunderstandings as they come up. For example, many people believe that someone has to be severely ill to benefit from therapy. In reality, people can reap the benefits of counseling even if they have no mental illness and just need help through a tough time.

Expect Pushback and Answer with Reassurance

Regardless of your relationship to the person in question and how well you approach the conversation, you are bound to run into some pushback. Your loved one may show anger that you would bring it up or worried that you think he or she is crazy. Whatever kind of pushback you get, it will be important to respond with compassion and reassurance.

Offer Assistance So That They Can Go

Whether they are real obstacles or excuses to not go, your loved one may offer many reasons they cannot consider therapy. When possible, offer to help overcome those obstacles. You may offer to:

  • Watch his or her children during appointment times
  • Find a good therapist or make the call to make an appointment
  • Go with them to the first appointment and wait in the waiting room
  • Help discover affordable resources, including group therapy

Not only do these offers help your loved one see a path to getting help, but they also demonstrate just how much you want the person to get better. If you or someone you know needs emotional, behavioral, or mental health support in Florida, contact LifeStance Health.