Q&A: Therapy For My Friend?

Friday, September 26, 2014

I have a friend that could probably benefit from going to therapy.  She's going through a difficult time in her life and I feel like my help and advice as a friend has reached it's limit.  How do I encourage her to go see a therapist?
Frustrated Friend

Dear Frustrated,

For anyone who is wanting someone they know to go to therapy, I have three important words for you:  Go to therapy.  Yes, you.  

If you've never been to therapy before, then this will be a new adventure for you - one which you can take back and share with your friend each week and offer her your experience on the topic of "What's therapy like?"  If you have been to therapy before, then you know it can benefit more than just your own life - it inevitably affects those around you as well.  (If it doesn't, you might consider changing therapists). 

By going to therapy, you can flat-out ask your therapist to offer you some deeper insight into your friendship and how you can encourage your friend throughout this difficult season of her life.  Your steps towards a healthier life might just rub off on your friend and inspire her to take some action as well.  

By sharing your positive experience with therapy with your friend you automatically do two things:  1) diminish the shame and stigma that therapy is solely reserved for those who "have problems" and 2) endorse that getting help is a strength and not a weakness.  You might even offer to go with your friend to therapy if or when she decides to begin that process.

In the meantime, take a deep breath and a step back.  You are not responsible for your friend's process or actions.  You can't fast-forward time, make decisions for her, or burden yourself with things that are beyond your control (or hers).  But, you can pray for her, pray with her, and just SIT with her.  Don't underestimate the power of being present.  Often, the deepest friendships are built more in the silences we share than the words we speak.  You sound like a great friend - sometimes just being present with her is best therapy she could ever get.

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