Talk Back: What suggestions can you share to help a reluctant person see a therapist? What techniques have worked on others or worked on you? There are no wrong answers and please read the comments to look for inspiration. Thank you, Gabe

“Loved One Therapy” Video Transcript

I get asked a lot how people can talk their loved ones in to going to therapy when the loved one doesn’t want to.

There’s a few different ways to approach this and a few different ways to answer it. The first thing is, you can’t make your loved one go to therapy. Therapy doesn’t work if people don’t want to go.

So I tend to take a different approach. First, if I think that my friend would benefit from therapy, I try to remember that. I try not to use words like, “my friend needs therapy.” Instead, I think that my friend would benefit from therapy.

Another strategy you could use to help talk your friend into going to therapy is to ask them to do it as a personal favor to you. Let them know that while they believe they don’t need therapy, and you respect that, you would really like them to go. Let them know that you believe that they would benefit from it, even though they don’t believe it. Ask if they will go as a favor to you. Just say, “Hey, will you try it a few times? If you get no benefit out of it, you can quit, and I will never bring it up again. I just ask that you keep an open mind and that you take it seriously.”

Depending on your relationship with the person this may work. There are many things I have done in my life because my wife, or my mother, or my grandmother asked me to do it.  Things that I didn’t want to do and things that I didn’t think would benefit me. Sometimes they were right, and sometimes they were wrong. But the reason that I found myself doing it was to honor the relationship that I had with them. And because we do things for our loved ones that we might not necessarily do for ourselves.

I really believe that the key is to find out why they are not going. What about the process or the idea of therapy don’t they like? It’s usually based on a misconception; it is usually based on a misunderstanding. Or it is based on their fear of talking to a stranger about something. This is what I believe the reasons are and I explain how I handled it.

Because if we are all honest with each other, the very first time we went to a therapist was kind of a scary thing. I was expected to tell a therapist my deepest, darkest secrets. That sounds frightening. But that is not what happened. I went to a therapist, I sat down, and the therapist asked me basic questions. Questions about my life.

Questions about my past and where I wanted to be in the future. And I slowly built a rapport and started working with a therapist about things in my life that I wanted to improve.

We don’t need to show up with our therapist on day one and talk about our mother or talk about our past trauma.  We can talk about the little things in our lives.  And once we start getting those little successes, working with our therapist, then we can move on to bigger things. So many people believe that in the first minute of the first appointment on the first day they are going to have to talk about something that has frightened them for years.  That is unreasonable and it is unrealistic. But I think a lot of people really believe that is what is going to happen. Help them understand that isn’t how therapy works, and that therapy moves at a pace that is set by the patient. Not a pace that is set by the therapist.