The Hard Stuff: Helping Friends Choose Therapy

The Hard Stuff: Helping Friends Choose Therapy
Illustration by Jamison Harper

We are HUGE advocates of therapy at Good Grit. Whether that means dealing with trauma or just maintenance for everyday life, we say do it! While we can all resonate with the fact that mental health is important, there is no denying that therapy has stigmas attached to it. So how can we help our loved ones who would benefit from therapy but may be resistant due to these stigmas?

Part of connection in friendship is talking through the seasons of life, and having close confidants and community is a gift. But at what point do we cross the line of being a listening ear and step into the role of untrained therapist? Being a good friend means being truthful, but it does not mean aligning with disfunction for friendship’s sake. Here are our tips for identifying when it’s time to let the professionals take over, and how to lovingly advise someone to choose therapy.

When is it past the point of venting to a friend?

-Does the situation get brought up every time you talk to this person and seem to be at the same level of distress to no avail?
-Are you noticing unhealthy behavior arising?
-Are steps being taken to numb feelingsalcohol, drugs, sexual promiscuity, or over indulgence?

It’s important to remember that therapists are trained professionals who can identify patterns that an untrained listener may not see. Loving someone also means wanting the best for them. 

Be a cheerleader, not an enabler.

Being a listening ear carries responsibility. We all get caught up in our own drama, but if you are designated as the one to vent to, make sure you cheer for healthy steps and don’t enable bad decision making. 

Example: A friend is dealing with a rough breakup, divorce, or rejection. Keep in mind you may not know past traumas that could be coming up through this experience.

A cheerleader understands that what they are going through is hard, supports the positive things they see for their future, and offers to help them find someone to talk to. 

An enabler suggests ways to numb feelings and aligns with a victim mentality or belief of hopelessness.

Be vulnerable about your own weakness; Share your story.

No one has life figured out. Sometimes it helps to share your own story, or even connect them with a person who has been through something similar. Sharing stories of overcoming help inspire us to rise and learn from adversity, not loathe it.

Stay the course, and stay healthy.

Remember that pointing someone toward the right direction is not something that happens overnight. It may take several conversations and even engagement from other people. Being a support system for someone is a way of serving people we love, but it can sometimes be more than we are capable of handling. A healthy friendship involves mutual give-and-take. If you are becoming a constant sounding bored without concern for what you are going through yourself, it may be time to reexamine the health of the friendship and be honest about it.

Great reasons for therapy:

-Therapists are obligated to keep things completely confidential.
-It’s a no-judgement zonethey are not your friends or family, so nothing is personal!
-Identify how past trauma or experience may be affecting you now.
-Learn how to better manage your emotions.
-Find new perspectives on people in your life.
-Prevent developing mental illness.
-Learn how to identify and build healthy relationships versus toxic relationships.
-Become more authentic and self aware.