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Telling a loved one they need therapy

 A couple in a therapy session. (Courtesy)

Addressing the topic of mental health with a loved one requires delicate consideration, empathy and a keen understanding of the nuances surrounding the subject.

Raising the subject of therapy necessitates a thoughtful approach that respects the individual’s emotions, while also emphasizing the importance of seeking professional support for their own good.

It is essential to establish an environment of trust and open communication. Choose a suitable time and place, ensuring minimal distractions and ample privacy.

Begin the conversation with a statement that reflects your concern and care for their overall well-being.

Avoid framing the suggestion as a judgment or criticism. Instead, emphasize that seeking therapy is a positive and proactive step towards personal growth and improved mental health.

Use language that underscores the normalization of therapy, such as “many people find therapy helpful in navigating life’s challenges and it’s a resource that offers valuable insights and coping strategies.’’

Share specific observations about behaviours or emotions that have prompted your concern. Use ‘I’ statements to avoid sounding accusatory and to convey that your observations are coming from a place of care and observation. For instance, saying, “I’ve noticed that you’ve seemed more withdrawn lately, and it seems like you’re carrying a lot on your shoulders,’’ allows the individual to feel heard and understood.

Highlight the benefits of therapy in a personalised manner. Tailor your discussion to reflect on how therapy can assist them in overcoming specific challenges or achieving personal goals. Whether it’s managing stress, improving relationships or coping with life transitions, framing therapy as a supportive tool can resonate more effectively.

That, however, is not a guarantee they will take it well. Anticipate potential resistance or concerns, and be prepared to address them empathetically.

Acknowledge any fears or hesitations they may have about therapy, and offer reassurance. Discuss the variety of therapeutic approaches available and emphasize that finding the right therapist is a collaborative process that aligns with their comfort and needs.

It is crucial to emphasise that suggesting therapy is not a reflection of any perceived inadequacy on their part. Rather, it is an acknowledgement of the complexity of human experiences and an affirmation of the value placed on their mental and emotional well-being.

Reinforce that seeking therapy is an act of strength and self-care, illustrating that many individuals regardless of their circumstances find support and guidance through therapeutic interventions.

Finally, offer your ongoing support throughout the process. If they are not ready to take action just yet, have patience and let them come around by their own volition.

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