Zencare for Marc Skid: How to Help A Friend Start Therapy
It’s difficult to watch those you love experience mental health difficulties. It’s even harder if you know there’s help out there they could benefit from: Therapy.
But encouraging your loved one to seek out therapy necessitates a delicate balance. If you push the conversation too hard, you might hit a nerve, or receive heavy pushback – and turn them off the idea completely.
But rest assured, there is an effective way of going about starting the conversation. Here to get you started is Zencare, a website that easily connects therapy seekers with their ideal talk therapist.
Here’s how to help a friend start therapy:
- Open up the conversation
Pick the right time and place
Know that “where” (a safe space) and “how” (gentle dialogue) you speak to your friend is just as important as the words you speak.
Don’t bring up the conversation in front of other people; you don’t want to overwhelm your friend. Pick a time when neither of you is particularly stressed, tense, or otherwise preoccupied.
Use gentle, open questions and dialogue
Open the conversation gently, and in an open-ended manner. Try the following formulas:
“Is everything okay? I noticed you’ve seemed down lately, and you can always talk to me if you’d like.”
“I’m so glad you’re in my life and I love you for [x reason]! There’s something I was hoping to talk to you about.”
“I’ve noticed [x worrisome behavior] – would you like to talk about it? Have you considered seeking help?”
If you’re unsure of what to say, put yourself in their position and think how you would want to be presented with the information.
Make sure not to rush or pressure your friend
Remember: This isn’t a race! Having multiple dialogues about therapy before starting it is totally okay.
- Offer to help find the right fit
Go beyond just encouraging your friend to seek help – if you’re able to, help them find a therapist, too!
Research online with your friend
There are many great national online directories of therapists. On platforms like Zencare, you can also watch therapist videos to get a sense of what they are like before suggesting them to your friend, and set up a free initial call for them.
Be mindful that therapy is not a “one size fits all” endeavor. There different types of therapy, and what might appeal to you wouldn’t necessarily work for your friend. The more information you can gather, the more empowered your friend can be to find a therapist who is the right fit for them.
- Help your friend prepare
When the timing is right, here’s how to help your friend prepare:
Figuring out payment
It can be a touchy subject (considering most people don’t enjoy discussing money!) but payment and insurance is a vital component of any health endeavor, including therapy. Help your friend understand that they have options!
For those that do have insurance: Help them figure out their deductible and other plan details.
Preparing for the initial phone call
The initial phone call is the first time your friend will speak with a potential therapist, so encouraging them to prepare questions to ask is important.
- How long does each appointment with this therapist last?
- What is the therapist’s approach?
- What is the therapist’s experience working with clients who have similar issues?
Take the time to even sit down with your friend and help them write these out. If possible, schedule calls with multiple therapists to find the right fit.
Preparing for their first appointment
It can be nerve-wracking walking into a first therapy session. After all, it’s completely new territory! But helping your friend prepare by simply knowing the following few things will go a long way:
- How long the session will last? Most are around 50 minutes, but initial sessions can be longer so you’ll want to check with the therapist.
- How to find the therapist’s office. Is public transit available to get there? Directions, parking info, etc.
- What you should do when you get there? Do you need a code for the door? Should you knock when you arrive, or wait to be called in from a waiting area?
- How much the first session will cost and how they plan to pay for it.
The process of finding a therapist is different for everyone, but helping your friend or loved one make the first step in getting mental health care is an incredible and worthy cause. By keeping these resources in mind and focusing on what works best for your friend, you’ll help them kick start their journey to mental health.
This is a guest post from Zencare, a website that helps people find their ideal talk therapist. Visit Zencare.co to browse their vetted network of top therapists – using criteria like insurance, sliding scale, location, and specialties. You can also directly book a free assessment call from the Zencare site!