How To Convince Someone To Go To Therapy

Woman placing hand on her friend's shoulder to convince her to go to therapy.

Choosing to pursue therapy is rarely an easy path, but it’s even more complex when you’re trying to convince someone else to speak to a professional.

It’s natural to want to offer a loved one help when they’re struggling, but the therapy conversation can lead to tensions and broken boundaries.

While many people can benefit from therapy, there’s still a stigma around seeking help.

If you’re wondering how to convince someone to go to therapy, here are some methods for having an effective conversation.

How To Convince Someone To Go To Therapy

It isn’t a pleasant conversation, but it can be a necessary one.

Below are some tips on raising the topic of therapy with a loved one. 

Consider Timing

The therapy conversation is a sensitive subject, so you need to be careful when choosing your timing.

No one wants a difficult discussion just as they get up in the morning, nor do you want the conversation to get cut off because someone has to leave.

Wait for a moment when you’re both alone, and when you have plenty of time to talk.

Practice What You’re Going To Say

If you think a person could benefit from pursuing therapy, you probably know what they’re struggling with. It’s likely you’ve listened to them explain certain issues repeatedly.

Before you start the conversation, take a moment to reflect on these previous conversations. Recall specific complaints, and keep these in mind when you approach the subject.

Practice doesn’t mean writing a script and delivering it from cue cards. You still want to come across as natural.

But by taking a few minutes to think about phrasing, you can make your point clearly and effectively.

If your loved one is resistant to the idea of therapy, maybe even claiming they’re not having any problems, you can bring up these past concerns.

Clear facts will make it much easier to illustrate your point, and reinforce your message. 

Emphasize Concern, Not Judgment

This is probably the key criteria when trying to convince a loved one to go to therapy: it must come from concern, and not from judgment.

Start the conversation by emphasizing how much you care about the person, especially if there has been friction in your relationship lately.

You want them to start therapy because you care about their wellbeing, and this should be clear from the offset. 

Speak straight.

Wrapping up the conversation in careful euphemisms will make it seem like therapy is something that shouldn’t be talked about. This can increase feelings of shame and judgment.  

Offer To Help Them Through The Journey

Therapy can be overwhelming for many reasons, and logistical difficulties can be enough to put many people off starting. 

Offering to help with the logistical side of therapy is a way of showing support while allowing the person to maintain their freedom. You can help them to set up a budget, or look for therapists in the area who accept insurance.

If you have experience with therapy, you can suggest practices with a good reputation.

Even seemingly small gestures, like driving them to and from an appointment, can help lighten the burden. 

Don’t push too hard to be a part of the journey. Suggest how you can help, and then follow their lead.

Ask Them To Reflect On How They’re Coping With The Issue

Many people resist therapy because they believe they should be able to help themselves. This individualistic attitude is a societal issue, and it prevents people from getting the help they need.

If you bring up therapy only to meet the attitude of “I can do this on my own”, then ask the person to reflect on exactly what they’re doing.

Try to avoid coming across as overly critical, as this can cause people to become defensive. Explore the coping methods they have in place, and how exactly these methods are working.

The reality is, they can’t deal with the issue on their own, and the coping methods aren’t working.

Make sure this isn’t phrased as a personal failure, but as a chance to start a new path.

Discuss Positive Therapy Experiences

If you’ve had a good experience with therapy, then share your journey.

Seeing a therapist still carries a stigma, and it can be this social pressure that prevents someone from seeking help.

By opening up about your own journey with therapy, you can help dismantle misconceptions.

Listen To Their Concerns

If you want to convince someone to start therapy, it needs to be a conversation, not a lecture. Give your loved one time to speak and listen to their concerns, even if they are irrational.

Therapy can still be a sensitive subject, and there are many reasons a person might be resistant to the idea.

They might feel therapy is a sign that they’ve “failed”, they might not feel comfortable opening up, or they might feel their problems aren’t “real” enough to need therapy.

Listen and respond with straight answers, to help navigate these concerns. However, it’s important to set up your own boundaries.

This can be an emotionally fraught conversation, and if the person feels under attack, they might lash out.

If the conversation seems to be turning to an unwelcome place, draw back.

Be Aware Of Your Limitations

Don’t go into the conversation assuming that you will convince your loved one to start therapy.

No one can make someone else go to therapy, and it’s up to each individual to decide if this is the right choice for them.

Although you might not see the result you want right now, you will have opened up the possibility of therapy.

However, if you start the conversation with the aim of signing them up for therapy that day, you’re likely to come across too pushy. They’ll react by shutting the discussion down, and ignoring your advice. 

Revisit The Conversation In Future

Give the conversation time to breathe, and revisit the topic in the future.

Wait a couple of days (or longer, if things become tense), before asking if they’ve given therapy any further consideration.

Can You Convince Someone Else To Go To Therapy?

If someone isn’t ready for therapy, then there’s nothing you can say to convince them. And if they haven’t started the journey willingly, then they’re unlikely to feel the benefits of therapy.

This conversation can be a good starting place, but if someone has yet to consider therapy, then it’s likely to be just that—a starting place.

Final Thoughts

It’s never pleasant to see a loved one going through a rough time, and if you think they might benefit from therapy, it’s natural to reach out.

Remember to lead with care and compassion, and avoid judgmental language. Don’t push too hard, but let the conversation grow naturally.

At some point, it might be necessary to step back and reestablish boundaries, but make it clear you want what’s best for them.

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