Help, My Partner Is Averse to Therapy
Millennials are more ready to seek help, and have even been coined the Therapy Generation, and with good reason. Psychotherapy can be an important tool for managing depression, bipolar disorder and other mood disorders, and marital therapy can help resolve conflicts and improve communication and intimacy.
Despite societal stigma around mental illness starting to decline, some individuals still struggle with seeking help from a therapist or counselor. Whether it’s due to their reluctance to admit their struggles or because they’ve internalized negative associations about needing help, it can be challenging to overcome these mental hurdles. If your partner happens to be one of these individuals, here are some tips for you to encourage steps in the right direction.
Give support, not force
If you’re already seeing a therapist or have before, you’re probably pleased with the results and want your partner to experience the benefits as well, but you have to remember everyone copes with mental health issues in different ways. Whatever's stopping your partner from going to therapy may be deeply personal and you don’t want to add another stressor to their plate. Always offer a listening ear if they choose to come talk to you about their feelings. If they’re frequently coming to you with intrusive thoughts or issues you can’t help them overcome, consider bring up the topic and outline the benefits of therapy at a time when they’re not so vulnerable.
If your relationship is what’s needing attention from a therapist, let your partner know you want to tackle the issues together. If you’re going through a big life change together—such as buying a house, having children, changing career or dealing with a death in the family—that is putting a lot of strain on your relationship, having your partner know you want to fortify the bond between you may be all they need to hear to join you in therapy.
Remove the barriers
If someone is already struggling with making it through their usual routine, carrying out research on local therapists, seeing if they take your insurance and whether they’re accepting new clients may be the last thing your partner wants to handle.
While you definitely should not book the appointment on behalf of your partner, as that may trigger an emotional backlash from them, take the hard work out of the equation and do some research yourself. You know your partner well, so you know what kind of person they’d respond positively to and what issues they may want to talk about. Make some calls or put some inquiries out online so you can present your partner with options to choose from.
Prepare positive reinforcement
If it’s one-on-one therapy, offer to drive or accompany your partner to the appointment and pick them up when they’re done. Being physically there for them can ease their anxiety about going somewhere new for the first time, and knowing you're waiting for them can make them feel completely supported.
On top of that, plan to make the rest of the day a self-care day for the two of you. If they’re feeling up for it, suggest you go to their favorite restaurant, park or place to hang out. Surprise them with a movie marathon at home with flicks they’re fond of or something they’ve been meaning to see. You know what makes your partner happiest, so treat them to something special after they take a step in a positive direction for their mental heal
Therapy is for everyone
While some people may only associate psychotherapy or marital counseling with dire situations, any individual or couple can improve their life through the help of a specialist. Simply put, a therapist is an uninvested third party who can listen to your thoughts and emotions and give you techniques for managing your daily life.
With the recent rise of telehealth, getting help is easier than ever. Lead by example and find a therapist for yourself if you don’t already have one. Your partner will probably notice the effects in your behavior and want that for themselves.