A question I repeatedly hear is: “How do I tell someone they need therapy?” No matter who it is, a friend, family member or work associate, it can be a difficult thing to do.
You may believe in therapy. You may have been in therapy and know the benefits that you received from it. You also may strongly believe that someone you care about should try therapy because of a certain issue they are struggling with right now or a recurring problem they have faced, such as entering into unhealthy relationships or making other poor choices in their lives. Just because you know this and you see this problem clearly, they may not agree.
A sensitive and caring approach is called for when suggesting that someone see a therapist. Why? As you may know, for some people there is still a stigma about going to therapy. Also, some people think they don’t need to see someone because they can handle their problems on their own. Or they think only “crazy” people go to therapy. On the other hand, there are many who might just need a nudge and it never hurts to try and reach out to someone you care about.
So here are my tips on how to tell someone that they could benefit from talking to a therapist. It is important to do some research first on the problem you think they might have. For example, if it is depression, find out about the symptoms of depression and the potential consequences if not treated. You might also be able to get a couple of names of good therapists who are trained in the treatment of depression. Just some simple, basic information can be helpful – such as, “These are the 5 major symptoms of depression.” You can find this information online, or send me an email and I will be happy to send you some basic information.
Once you have the information and you are ready to talk to your family member or friend:
Plan out what you are going to say ahead of time.
Schedule a time to talk about it with the person, and be sure to do it a time when things are calm.
It is important to never force this at someone because you are frustrated with his or her decisions they make; remember that the person is likely to be more receptive in a casual conversation rather than in a heated argument.
Whenever I have to talk to someone about something difficult, I like to use the “Therapy Sandwich.” First, say something positive to the person, followed by the difficult or negative part and then close the sandwich with a positive statement. For example, “I think you are a great friend and I care about you very much. I am worried about you because you continue to stay in this relationship that is emotionally abusive. I see that it wears you down, makes you depressed and so unhappy. You haven’t been to work in a week and you stopped seeing a lot of our friends. I know a great therapist who specializes in women and relationship issues and I was thinking maybe it would be good for you to talk to her or another therapist. I am telling you this because I am a concerned friend and I want the very best for you. “
If your loved one gets mad or offended, just drop the subject and try to revisit it in a few weeks. Don’t cut off your ties with this person. It is important to be there for this person and support him or her when they may need it most
I hope this is helpful. Remember to be prepared with the right information, have a couple of referrals for good therapists, and phrase it in a loving and caring way.
If you have had experience in telling someone that they should see a therapist, please feel free to post a comment and share how your experience went – or if you have anything to add to my tips please do so. I would love to hear from you! Thanks for reading my blog![xyz-ihs snippet=”Blog-Post-CTA”]