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How to Suggest Therapy to Your Partner or a Loved One?

Erin Ameri, LPC

There is no question that times are tough right now, and everyone could use some extra support. Therapy can feel like a daunting experience to those who have never done it before. Often we find ourselves in therapy once we’ve hit a breaking point, rather than as a preventative measure. In the past, therapy was a taboo topic to suggest to a loved one. Nowadays, I find clients wanting to suggest therapy to a variety of people in their lives after they have seen the benefits of their own experience. I often come across clients who have made significant progress in therapy and feel disconnected from their partners who seem to be standing still or avoiding self-growth. This leads us to the conversation of how to approach the topic of therapy with a partner/friend/family member/etc.

The first question I ask clients who are exploring this concern: What is the motivation behind this conversation?

At the end of the day, therapy is most successful when the client is open and willing to engage in the process. Forcing someone into therapy is generally not a great way to start the process. It can be challenging to take yourself out of the equation when you have a relationship with this person. Make sure you are making the suggestion for the right reasons.

Here are some steps to consider when approaching this conversation:

  1. Provide Support

Humans crave connection. Knowing that we have someone in our life that is there for us, even during difficult times, can be powerful. Often, people feel judged by others about seeking therapy and experience the stigma associated with mental health. Make sure to use non-stigmatizing language and let your loved one know you support them.

  1. Consider Timing and Place

Talking about mental health requires empathy and compassion. It is important to consider the space in which you choose to have this conversation. Make sure it is a space that feels safe and secure. Choose a time when you can approach the conversation without a crowd, this allows the person struggling to decide who they want to know. In addition, it can be helpful to catch this person when they are relaxed and in a good mood.

  1. Prepare for Resistance

It’s important to remember that not everyone is at a place where they are ready or willing to explore therapy. You may receive push back and that is okay. If you have been/or are in therapy, share about your experience. Benefits of therapy can include, improved communication, learning effective coping strategies, feeling empowered, and improved self-awareness.

  1. Offer to Help

One of the biggest roadblocks I see people come across when interested in therapy is how to find a therapist. PsychologyToday.com is a great place to start, offer to help them find therapists in their area who specialize in the treatment that they need. Remember, it is important to find the right fit and sometimes that can take time.

  1. Know it is Ultimately Not Your Decision

At the end of the day, the decision to start therapy should be up to the individual. The most important part of this conversation is that they know you care and that you want to support them. Be patient with them and give them space as they explore this potential next step. Contact Symmetry Counseling today to learn more about counseling in Chicago for additional support.

Tartakovsky, M. (2018). How to Persuade Your Loved One to Seek Professional Help. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 14, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-to-persuade-your-loved-one-to-seek-professional-help/

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