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What to Do if a Loved One Needs Therapy

Whether you are a loved one, friend, parent, guardian or partner of someone who is experiencing tough times and requires therapeutic support, it may be challenging to know where to start when it comes to assisting.

With one in every four adults suffering from mental health issues, access to appropriate care is vital. The great news is that therapy is very effective; nevertheless, only approximately one in every three persons seek therapy for themselves.

According to the American Psychological Association, some warning signs of psychological distress, include:

  • Mood swings such as irritation, wrath, worry, or sorrow

  • A drop in performance at work or school

  • Weight and physical changes, as well as a lack of personal hygiene

  • Sleep disturbances, such as oversleeping or insomnia

  • Withdrawal from social activities and connections

So, how do you manage this issue with tact and compassion if you have a loved one who is experiencing psychological distress and need more support and assistance than you can offer?


Give thought to the true nature

of the 'problem.'

Take some time to think of the obvious 'problem' you believe needs to be addressed. Could this possibly be an issue for your loved one? Can you think of anything that irritates them? And, if so, would you benefit from discussing this with a professional from your point of view instead?


Provide them with information

with no expectation.

Providing website information, a leaflet or positive comments about your own treatment experiences might be a fantastic way to start. When done politely and without expectations or ultimatums, this can open up an additional conversation about treatment alternatives benefiting both parties - remember, they acquire crucial understanding they may not have previously considered, and you may feel less powerless by being able to provide them with such.


Pay attention to what they say.

Often, we become so engrossed in our own story that we forget other people have their own. If a loved one expresses hesitation to attempt a new method, try listening to them. Try understanding the reasons why they are not as eager as you would like them to be. Perhaps this will open up avenues for more discussion that you can work through together. Or maybe it would not. In any case, it is their story, which they are entitled to.


Keep an eye out for any hidden messages.

When advising a loved one on getting professional help, you may be conveying the message, "I love you, I care for you, I want you to get better and I want the best for you." However, there is always the chance that they would interpret your suggestion that they seek treatment as an indictment along the lines of, "You need to be fixed, you need help." Even if you have the best intentions, someone may respond defensively. It may seem simple, however convincing a loved one that you just want to help them become their greatest self, rather than ‘change' them, may go a long way.

A simple show of care for your loved one's well-being may be enough to break the silence, but one sincere discussion is rarely enough to ensure full recovery.

5. Take care of yourself.

Just as your loved one has every right to refuse your well-intended invitation to try a specific therapy, you have every right to your own views about it. Powerlessness and irritation are common feelings in such situations, which need to be acknowledged. Remember, you are an individual in your own right and you are not responsible for your loved one. It is critical to take care of yourself. So, whether it's meditation, having some down time, focusing on self-care, gardening or your own therapy, do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself. After all, we can't take care of others if we don't take care of ourselves first.

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