How to Tell Someone They Need Therapy

“Girl, you need some help!” You know you’ve wanted to say this at one point or another. Especially since the No. 1 reason people go to therapy is to figure out how to deal with other people who refuse to go. But you can’t just blurt it out that way. You have to figure out how to tell someone they need therapy to encourage them to take action and not turn them against you.

In today’s post, we’ll review some of the ways you can help someone see they need therapy.

It’s difficult to see someone you care about struggling, especially when you know they could get help. But you have to tell someone they need therapy in a careful, loving way, so they respond positively.

9 Ways You Can Help Make a Difference

1. Educate Yourself

You’re probably not a doctor, so you can’t just start randomly recommending mental health treatment to others. Before you recommend therapy, it’s essential to understand what therapy is and why people seek it. Therapy helps people with various mental illnesses and emotional challenges. It can help eliminate or control symptoms so the person can feel better. Counseling isn’t just for people with mental illness. It’s for anyone who has trouble regulating their emotions or who wants to talk something over with a caring, compassionate, yet unbiased expert.  

Therapy treats emotional health concerns including:

  • Difficulty regulating emotions
  • Experiencing trauma
  • Medical illness
  • Grief and loss
  • Mental health disorders
  • Addiction
  • Difficulty coping with daily life

2. Talk in Private

Going to therapy and what happens in sessions are private matters, just like other medical appointments. That means discussions about treatment and emotional health matters also are private. When you recommend therapy to a loved one, make sure to do so in private. You’re unlikely to get a positive response if you encourage counseling in front of others.

3. Take It Seriously

If you want your loved one to take your recommendation for therapy seriously, you need to discuss it genuinely. Explain what precisely you’re concerned about and why you think they may benefit from counseling. Be empathetic in your tone and word choices. But do not offer sympathy in a way that makes the person think you pity them.

4. Be Confidential

Make sure your loved one understands that what you’re discussing is between the two of you. Let them know you’re talking about counseling with them because you’re concerned about their wellbeing. And that you won’t repeat any of what the two of you say to anyone else. It’s not your story to tell, so keep this promise.

5. Share Your Personal Experience

Perhaps one of the most effective ways to convince someone to try therapy is by sharing your own counseling experiences. After you tell your loved one what you’re concerned about, explain why you went to counseling and how it helped you. This explanation is even more beneficial if you have similar mental health concerns and recognize them in your loved one.

6. Destigmatize the Experience

The stigma surrounding mental health is one of the reasons it’s so difficult for people to go to therapy. Almost half of Americans believe it is weak to get counseling. Prepare for this view from your loved one. Help destigmatize therapy by talking about your own experience or that of others you know (if you have their permission). Tell them it’s brave and responsible to take care of their physical and mental health. 

7. Offer to Help

Another common reason people don’t go to therapy is that they don’t know where to go, how to pay for it, or what to expect. Offer to help your loved one find the right counselor. Offer also to help them research whether their insurance pays for therapy. And share your experience about what to expect from counseling, especially that first therapy appointment. Don’t just tell them they need to go to therapy and run. Offer to assist them right through booking that first session. You may even offer to drive them to the appointment to help get them there.

8. Provide Ongoing Support

Helping your loved one doesn’t end with their first therapy appointment. Offer support through the therapeutic process. Be there to talk when and if they want to. Use the same empathy and care you used when you discussed starting therapy.

9. Don’t Bug or Be Overly Persistent

You are not the therapy police. Your loved one may not be ready to go to therapy. If they say “no,” you need to respect that, even if you disagree. If they decide to go to therapy, they don’t have to discuss it with you, nor should you ask them about their sessions. If they want to talk to you about their appointments or things they discuss, they will. Otherwise, you’ve done your part by encouraging them to go.

Finding Support and Help

Telling someone they need therapy is a difficult thing to do, but infusing empathy into the discussion can make a major difference in the end results. You never know how they will respond, but if you care about a person, it’s vital to tell them that you see them struggling and you offer help and support.

All Counseling also wants to help. We want to help your loved ones find the right counselor to get them the mental health support they deserve. They can use our searchable therapist directory to find the counselor they need.


How to Encourage Someone to See a Therapist | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2021). Retrieved 21 October 2021, from https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/November-2017/How-to-Encourage-Someone-to-See-a-Therapist

The #1 Reason People Go to Therapy | Amen Clinics. (2021). Retrieved 9 October 2021, from https://www.amenclinics.com/blog/the-1-reason-people-go-to-therapy/

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