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4 min read

How to Tell Your Friend or Loved One They Might Need Therapy

a woman who may need therapy

Mental health can be a touchy subject. There is still a stigma attached to mental health issues, and many can be sensitive to the idea that they may need help. However, sometimes, when a loved one is struggling, you may need to be the one to touch on this subject. In this article, we'll take a closer look at how to tell someone they should consider therapy.

Can Your Loved One Benefit From Therapy?

This can be a difficult question. There is a fine line between making assumptions about someone with mental health issues, and truly seeing a need. If this is a close friend, family member, or partner, then you may observe that their mental or physical health is being affected by specific issues or even everyday challenges.

If a loved one seems unusually anxious or depressed or is acting in a way that is not typical for them, you may want to mention this in a caring way. Especially if you notice that their emotions or behaviors are beginning to affect their everyday life or relationships.

Things to Keep in Mind When Suggesting Therapy to a Loved One

When getting ready to propose therapy to someone you care about, take a moment to think about how you might like to be approached. While therapy should not be considered negative, it is not unusual to feel ashamed that someone noticed a change in your behavior. Try to speak in a way that is both kind and straightforward. Don't allow your manner to imply that there is shame or stigma attached to therapy.

Tips for Suggesting Therapy to Your Partner or Other Loved One

When having a conversation about struggles that may benefit from therapy, it can be touchy in the best of circumstances. It can be even more difficult when dealing with a partner. In a relationship, this may be taken as a form of criticism. The following are some tips to follow when you want to encourage a loved one to seek treatment.

Start by bringing it up in a comfortable or private situation.

First and foremost, bring up the topic in a private space that allows them the time and seclusion to process what you are telling them. This is not a topic to spring on a person in a place where they don't feel safe.

Share your own experience.

Chances are, you may have noticed certain behaviors in your friend or family member because you have dealt with difficult times yourself. Share your own experience so that they don't feel alone in what they are experiencing.

Make sure your suggestion is informed.

Again, there is a fine line between observation and judgment/diagnosis. If you notice a friend who seems to be struggling with depression, don't simply approach that friend with, "Hey, I think you may have depression." You are not a professional mental health therapist. Rather, you can say something like, "I've noticed lately that you seem really down, and I've been worried. Can we talk about it?"

Clarify your motives for wanting them to seek help.

It can be helpful if you reiterate to your partner, family member, or friend that you are suggesting that they go to therapy because you love and care about them, and you want them to be happy. Also, be sure not to force the issue. Pushing can make them feel worse.

Clarify that you aren't abandoning them.

If you are talking to a partner, be sure to clarify that you aren't suggesting therapy because you are interested in leaving or that you think they are "wrong". You can suggest attending the first therapy session with them, or even doing couples therapy so that you can work through any challenges together.

Destigmatize the experience.

Share that a support system is important for everyone and that seeing a therapist is not a big deal. Seeing a therapist for mental health is like seeing a doctor for physical ailments. You can even show them stories of influential people or celebrities that they enjoy who have shared their mental health journeys.

Offer your support in finding the right therapist.

Remind them that there are a lot of options for therapy, including online therapy if they don't want to travel to the therapist's office to attend sessions. A person who is struggling may not be in the headspace to search for a therapist, so offer your support in finding a good fit for them.

Keep in mind that therapy will only be effective if they put in the work.

Therapy is a process. If you are suggesting that this person go to therapy because you think that it is going to change them, then you may be better off setting boundaries, or even cutting ties. However, if you are truly there to support the therapy journey, and are invested in their long-term mental health, then by all means have the conversation.

Bring in the positives and remind them of what they stand to gain.

Don't just share observations about negative things you've noticed. Flip the conversation to share the benefits of therapy. If you have experienced them yourself, all the better. If not, do some research into how therapy can help, and share it with your loved one.

Consider if you need therapy yourself.

While you're thinking about therapy for your loved one, take a moment to consider whether you may need some support yourself. Especially in the case of a partner, you may find that therapy can help with communication, and your relationship may be struggling because of challenges from both sides.

Sharing Support for Therapy in Brooklyn

When it comes to having a conversation with a loved one about whether they should go to therapy, it can be difficult to get started. The good news is that therapy can benefit so many, and offer hope to those who need treatment.

At Williamsburg Therapy Group, our team of doctoral-level psychotherapists offers both online therapy and in-person sessions in a safe and affirming space.

Give us a call today, and our patient coordinator will help you find the right therapist to offer support for both you and the person who needs help, whether this is a friend, partner, or other loved one. 

Book a Therapy Session in Brooklyn Today

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