We are empathic beings. This makes us care not only for ourselves, but also for the well-being of our family and friends, who may be going through a bad situation.

Sometimes it is necessary to turn to a psychologist, who can help to improve the state of our loved one. However, going to therapy is not a decision that is usually made easily and it can happen that those who need professional help do not ask for it for different reasons.

The question many people ask themselves when they find themselves in this situation is: how do you convince someone to go to the psychologist? Proposing to them can become a very delicate issue, and generate a situation of tension when they feel offended and may be called “crazy”. Let’s look at some key tips and ideas on how to deal with this kind of problem.

What resistance can arise when proposing to go to psychotherapy?

Although in the last decades the profession of the psychologist has been gaining in popularity, besides the fact that what is done in the psychological office is better known, the truth is that many people are reluctant to go to psychological therapy .

Although the image of the psychologist as someone who deals only with people with serious psychological disorders, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, has been overcome, many people still believe that going to the psychologist is “crazy”.

It may also be the case that the person who is suffering considers that he or she is in such a serious situation that he or she no longer has a situation , or that he or she fears that going to the psychologist will confirm that there is nothing to be done, and decides not to face up to it.

Some people see asking for help as a sign of weakness, and are afraid of becoming dependent on a mental health professional. Also, because of a lack of knowledge of what psychologists actually do, they believe they will end up being medicated and will actually know how to address their situation in a profound way.

While there are people who are aware that they are suffering and need help, the fear of the high financial cost of psychotherapy may prevent them from going to a psychologist.

It is important to indicate that, except in situations where there is a very serious psychological disorder, it should be the person him/herself who goes to the psychologist freely , without his/her family, friends or partner having organised a deception or taking him/her to the consultation in a forced manner. For a clinical psychologist, this type of situation is especially difficult, given that the person to be intervened does not wish to receive professional help.

Tips for convincing someone to go to the psychologist

As friends, family members or partners of someone who is suffering, you can follow a series of recommendations that can help us make the person aware that they need help and that they can improve, as well as showing them that we are on their side, that we support them and want the best for them.

Here are some tips to help you know how to convince someone to go to the psychologist.

1. Choose the best time and place

Proposing to go to the psychologist is a delicate matter. That is why it is advisable to choose a time and place where calm and intimacy prevail , where there is no tension and where there are no other people who might react negatively to the proposal to go to the professional and influence the person who needs help.

2. Listen to him/her and be empathetic

We want to help you, and so we have to show that this is our intention. He asks about his feelings, how he is living the situation and how he perceives that he can evolve . If something similar has ever happened to you, tell him about it and make him understand that everything can improve with the right help.

3. Suggest a first visit

Recommending an immediate start with psychotherapy can be seen as proposing something complicated and not affordable. Instead, you can recommend that he or she try a contact with a psychologist, and see what happens and how he or she feels after the session.

4. Accompany him in the first session

Going to the psychologist for the first time can be perceived as a daunting task. To ensure that the person goes, but without putting pressure on them , it is a very good idea to accompany them during the first session, so that they feel they are starting the process with the support of someone close to them.

5. Do not assume why they suffer

Although all human beings have much in common, each can attribute and experience suffering in different ways. Do not interpret the reason for their suffering, simply comment on your perception, making it clear that each one is free to live the same experience in a variety of ways.

6. Offer truthful and professional information

There are many myths surrounding the figure of the psychologist. The best way to fight against them is to offer articles, books, websites and other resources developed by the professionals themselves to help to have a real vision of the professional of psychology and his work .

7. A psychologist and a psychiatrist are not the same thing

Many people believe that going to a psychologist implies being medicated , despite the fact that this professional is not the one who prescribes psychopharmaceuticals, and they are afraid of that possibility. Prescribing drugs is the psychiatrist’s job, and he or she only prescribes them if necessary. For this reason, it is necessary to inform about this aspect in case it is an obstacle to convince someone to go to the psychologist.

8. Facilitates the process of finding a psychologist

Thanks to new technologies, many psychologists have websites where they can make appointments, as well as explain their field of intervention and what they specialize in. Therefore, it is very easy to help find a psychotherapy professional that adapts to the needs of the person you want to convince .

9. If possible and necessary, subsidize treatment

Psychotherapy can be seen as an expensive process. If you can afford it, offer to pay for the first session. That will show that you are very involved in the therapeutic process and will motivate you to go to therapy. Once you have started, it will be easier for you to lose your fears and possible prejudices .

10. Make him/her aware that he/she is the one who decides

Everyone has the right to be involved in improving their mental health. Even if we propose to go to the psychologist, we must also make him/her aware that he/she is free to decide whether or not to go to a consultation , and that he/she is responsible for his/her psychological well-being.

If, despite having followed this advice, the person does not want to go to the psychologist, one should insist, but remain calm and try to argue the benefits of receiving therapy .

Author: Nahum Montagud

Bibliographic references:

  • Brammer, L. M., & Shostrom, E. L. (1977). Therapeutic psychology: Fundamentals of counseling and psychotherapy (3rd ed.). Oxford, England: Prentice-Hall.
  • Norcross, J. C. (Ed.). (2002). Psychotherapy relationships that work: Therapist contributions and responsiveness to patients. New York, NY, US: Oxford University Press.
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