Boyfriend won’t get help from a therapist

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. Hi, my boyfriend is suffering from depression and he refuses to get help for it. He started telling me last year that he was depressed and he would cry to me and when he drank alcohol it would get even worse. He has said several times that he wants to kill himself. I kept telling him that he needs to see a therapist, but he refuses to go. His parents have also tried to get him to go,but he won’t. He’s 20 years old so he can’t be forced to go. Sometimes he gets verbally abusive to me and I know that it’s not right for him to do it, so I recently broke up with him. I told him that he needs to get help and that if he wants to be with me, things need to change. I basically gave him an ultimatum and now he’s very angry that I won’t be with him. He’s trying to put a guilt trip on me and is telling me that because i’m not with him, it’s going to cause his death. I want to be with him, but not until he gets help. Bipolar disorder runs in his family and i see that he has some of the symptoms, but i’m obviously in no way able to diagnose him. I want to be with him, but not until he gets help. I’m so upset and frustrated because I have no idea what to do. How can I convince him to get help? I know that he has to WANT the help, but he doesn’t and I’m so scared that he’s going to commit suicide. I know that he wants to be with me, which is why I’m hoping that he’ll get the help so we can go back out, but he’s just so angry and hostile right now. I feel like he’s never going to get the help and I really need your advice. Thank you.

A. There is not much that you can do. All you can do is encourage him to get help, encourage him endlessly, have his parents encourage him, but once you’ve done that and he still will not go, you have done all that you can. You did the right thing breaking up with him and giving him an ultimatum. I know he is depressed and going through a rough time but he stubbornly will not get help, has turned to drinking and even is verbally abusing you. It would be extremely unhealthy for you to stay in this relationship if he does not get help. His threatening suicide and telling you it would be your fault is his way to get you to go back out with him. If he is threatening suicide, inform him that you will call the police and have him committed. Do not hesitate to do this if you have to.

If you decide to date him again without him getting help, you should seek counseling. You’d have to ask yourself why you’d want to be with someone who is refusing help, drinking, verbal abusing you, and being angry and hostile towards you. It would be very unhealthy for you to put yourself in that situation. Encourage him to get help and once you have done that and if he still refuses, know that you have done all that you can. It seems like there is more you should or could do, but all you can do is encourage a person to get help. If they refuse, despite all of your pleading and begging, that’s their unfortunate and incorrect decision. I wish you the best of luck.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Oct 2005

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2005). Boyfriend won’t get help from a therapist. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 2, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2005/10/14/boyfriend-wont-get-help-from-a-therapist/