It is challenging and sometimes downright frustrating when you see someone suffering and in need of therapy. What can you do to get someone to therapy? Can you do anything? How will the person react if you suggest it? How to suggest it? The road to helping someone to therapy is slow and can be fraught with many obstacles. Read on to learn more about what you can do to help.
Gentle Ways to Suggest Counselling/Therapy
- Start by acknowledging the person’s feelings in the moment. Chances are they are showing signs of distress. If you know that the person is very resistant to therapy you will have to repeat this step over and over. Sometimes people are not even aware that they are showing emotional distress.
- Encourage the person to reflect about options. Family doctor? Minister? Good friend? Therapist? Ask the person if they need professional help? Expect the answer to be no or that there will be no answer at all. You are just planting the seeds of change. This can be a slow process.
- Revisit options. Ascertain if the person is ready to hear your suggestions. You know the person better than any professional and will know the speed at which you need to progress. When the person is ready, suggest the idea of simply going to talk to someone. Therapy or psychotherapy can imply that the person is “crazy” or sick. It doesn’t, but remember that for many people they don’t want to be the person that needs help.
- Provide more than one option for an individual. There are local agencies that provide counselling on a sliding scale. There are websites like Psychology Today that have directories of therapists. Asking your family doctor for referrals may be appropriate. Your friend or family member may also have access to an Employee and Family Assistance Program through their place of employment. Not every therapist is a good fit for every person. It does not mean that the therapist is bad.
- If the person reacts negatively to the suggestion you will need to back off and wait. This is hard to do when you care, but if the person is not ready, then they are not ready, and there is nothing that you can do to speed up the process. Wait. Watch. Listen and be supportive.
If you would like help supporting someone in need of counselling/therapy contact Annette Poechman, Registered Psychotherapist and Certified Counsellor. Annette is based in Hamilton and works with people throughout Ontario. Together you can develop some strategies to help your loved one and yourself.
Listen. Guiding. Caring.