It’s difficult to watch someone you care about struggle, in any sense. If you truly care about them, you want to help them heal, right? Good news: By reading this article, you’re already doing something to help. So give yourself a pat on the back and take out your Notes app, or a good ol’ fashioned pen and paper, and jot down a few pointers from what we’re about to unpack.
Are you considering talking to this friend or loved one about counselling because of one or more of the following reasons (or one that is similar)?
- You’ve witnessed apparent changes in mood; such as sadness, anger, or anxiety
- They’re noticeably disengaged from work, or their personal life
- They’ve pushed away social relationships, and social activities
- Their appearance has changed, and/or personal hygiene deteriorated
If you answered yes to any of the above, and feel ready to take the plunge and move from the sidelines to the centerfield in getting them some help, read on. Unfortunately, this part is often the most challenging. Here’s what you need to know to start the conversation as effectively as possible:
- Pick the right timing: Take note of their mood and level of busyness when choosing a time to approach the topic with them. The last thing you want is for your friend or loved one to dismiss the topic simply because they don’t have the capacity to listen.
- Approach with compassion: You don’t want to increase their stress or anxiety level, offend, or hurt them. They might not agree with you, and that’s okay. Be gentle.
- Start the conversation in private: It can be a tough conversation to have. And one many might be embarrassed to have. Ask to chat with your friend or loved one alone to respect their privacy.
- Destigmatize the practice: Share a story of you, or someone you know, and their positive experience with therapy. For someone who hasn’t been to therapy, there can be a lot of daunting unknowns. Suggest some free options, such as WIRTH’s Counselling Fund, should money be an obstacle.
When all is said and done, the truth is that they simply might not be ready to hear it, nor ready to consider therapy.
You’ve shown your friend or loved one care and concern and created a safe space for them to start the conversation, should they decide to explore the topic of the therapy in the future. Ultimately, the process of therapy does work best when the person is intentionally showing up to their sessions, wanting to be there. You, nor anyone can force them.
Be sure to still listen to what your loved one has to say and validate their feelings. Allow them to disagree with you but offer to have the conversation at a future time, if they do change their mind.