Psychotherapist Nathan Feiles writes that he often gets asked how to convince a loved one to go to therapy. He says that these friends or spouses tend to fall into two different categories: 1.) People who are concerned about the noticeable symptoms in their loved ones, and 2.) People who feel frustrated with their loved one’s behaviors. In the second scenario, you might want to consider seeing an individual therapist yourself or asking your partner about couples therapy. Otherwise, you should find out what’s holding your spouse back from seeking help from a therapist.
Reasons Someone Might Refuse Therapy
Your partner could have more legitimate reasons for refusing to see a therapist, such as not having enough time, or believing that therapy is too expensive. If your spouse has mentioned that they’re too busy or don’t have the money to afford counseling, you could help them out by doing some research of your own. Look in to free or low-cost therapy options, or therapists who are available in the evenings or weekends.
Be Honest and Encourage Your Partner
If your partner doesn’t think they have a problem, or that their symptoms aren’t “bad enough” to visit a therapist, you could ask them to take a mental health screening online to check for common symptoms of mental illnesses. You can also do some research together about what therapy entails and costs of treatment. Offer to help them find a therapist, go to the first session with your spouse, or simply bring them to their appointment. Doing little things to encourage your spouse can make a world of difference.
What Not to Say to Your Spouse
- Tell them they need therapy in the heat of an argument.
- Say that they should stop “overreacting” or to just “get over it.”
- Say that they’re “crazy” or “insane.”
- Joke about dying or suicide. (For example, “My job makes me want to kill myself.”)
- Dismiss other forms of treatment, such as antidepressants or other medications.
Set Healthy Boundaries
For your own emotional and mental well-being, make sure you have time for yourself. Make plans with friends to unwind once in a while, practice self-care, keep up with your hobbies, and let your partner know what your boundaries are. Let them know what you can and can’t tolerate and stick to these limits. This “tough love” approach can help your spouse realize how their emotions affect others and can make them decide to give therapy a try.
For more guidance, visit Couples Clinic.