You are hurting but are getting better with the help of therapy. Therapy helps, but you feel like you could use the support from your friends and loved ones. Thus, you decide that you will tell them that you are seeking therapy.
While the stigma around mental health has reduced and psychotherapy is gaining impetus, it still may be difficult for many us to tell others that we go to therapy as we are worried about what they will think of us. There is no easy way to tell anyone, the struggle with words is completely normal. As a way to help, listed below are few guidelines to help you bring up you going for therapy to your loved ones:
Part 1: the important questions
- Why do you want others to know?
There are generally positive as well as negative reasons for this. The simplest positive reason for telling your friends is- that you trust them. Moreover, since you trust them, you also believe that they will be able to emotionally support you through the trying times. Some negative reasons for disclosure include you telling your friend because you want them to feel bad, for example- you telling an ex that you are receiving therapy because you want them to feel like they hurt you. Another negative reason is you telling someone because you do not want them to abandon you.
It is important to know that the main aim of therapy is to help you grow as an individual and to be independent, and thus the above negative reasons hinder you from that.
- How you think they will respond
It is vital that you keep in mind that sharing the fact that you go to therapy should be beneficial for you and should be helping you feel and do better. Thus, again thinking about the possible positive and negative reactions that your friends could have is important, because sharing this information should be helpful and not bog you down. Take into consideration your relationship with the person/ people in question. If they are someone who has shown consideration for your wellbeing, has shown support for mental health issues or is supportive of others who are struggling emotionally; then it seems like they will have a positive reaction.
However, if they are someone who gets angry or irrationally worried when you share things about yourself, have negative views about mental health issues, or deliberately shares personal information or gossips about others; then perhaps you need to rethink telling them about you going for therapy.
Part 2: The Conversation
- Think about an ideal outcome
What would be your idea of a perfect conversation with your loved one regarding you going to therapy? What do you think he/she would say and do? It can be helpful to keep an ideal outcome so that you can steer the conversation the way you want.
- You can keep notes
You can make notes about what you want to say. Having your thoughts organized and jotted down can help you keep the conversation on track. Another way to ease fumbling is you practising before you talk to your loved one. Role playing the conversation with your therapist can be a major help. You can also practise by yourself by saying it out loud.
- You do not need to comfort the other person
You have said what you wanted to say and are waiting for your friend to react. However, you need to always keep in mind that it is you who is hurting, right? Your loved ones might blame themselves because they believe that it is their fault, so you telling them that it is going to be alright and that you are getting the help you need- can be reassuring.
- Describe how they can help you
After one has disclosed that they are in pain, the obvious question is how can I help? You can think about how the other person can help before the entire conversation itself. It doesn’t need to be complex, plainly asking them to be with you and listen can be helpful- for you and them. You know you can do better with their support, so do not hesitate to let them know how they can help.
Part 3: Final considerations
Everyone reacts to things differently. While some maybe immediately supportive, some may take some time to get around to the idea of you being in therapy. Some may be willing to help, but do not know how to. You could provide some reading materials and resources to help them understand you a bit better.
Your mental health is important for your overall wellbeing. You owe it to yourself to grow and be happy. Thus, if asking your friends for support is what will help you get better, go for it! Don’t forget- life is tough, but so are you.