The decade of my twenties was a shit show. When I heard the term “quarter-life crisis” I thought, yeah, I had that and then some. Sudden serious illness had me in and out of the hospital. That, plus a genetic predisposition for mood disorder (think depression, anxiety), isolation from my peers (see illness) and general loss of existential direction (see ‘what the fuck am I doing with my life!?’) led me down the road to depression. Only I didn’t even know it. I had no clue.

But it turned out my dad did. He had a clue. My father died over ten years ago, so I can’t ask him for details. It seems logical that he knew for weeks and mulled over how to break it to me. My dad was not an impulsive guy. He was the crown prince of over-thinkers. A psychoanalyst (yeah, I know), contemplative and avoidant by nature, he had to find a way to suggest to his lost-in-the-weeds daughter that she needed therapy. 

A torn image of a couple holding each other with a paper taped to the side that says "How to tell someone to go to therapy" with the Explore What's Nexxt Logo on it.

I gotta say, shocker of shockers, he did a good job! When we had a moment of guaranteed alone time (in his car driving somewhere) he said he was concerned for me. He said something about my having so much going for me but I appeared to be rudderless. He thought therapy could help me get on track. If I was interested, he would help me find someone, a therapist to talk with. 

In just a few words I learned my dad understood me way more than I gave him credit! Did I thank him and take him up on his offer right away? Hell, no! I got defensive and probably really annoying, claiming I didn’t need therapy because I wasn’t mentally ill. I was fine! Then he did the wisest thing. He didn’t argue with me, list all the reasons he thought I was depressed, or say he was afraid I was still going to be living with him and my mother when I was in my fifties. He just said, “Well, if you change your mind, let me know.”

My dad planted the seed. A month later I met Dr. Greenbaum and my life changed.

It’s funny, I’ve always given Dr. Greenbaum the credit for changing my life, but now in looking back like this, I realize it started with my dad planting the seed, “Maybe try therapy.”

Many of us have people in our lives that we worry about. It can be difficult to broach the topic of therapy with someone, especially if you are concerned about their mental health and well-being. It’s important to approach the conversation with sensitivity and understanding, as the decision to seek therapy is ultimately up to the individual.

Here are seven tips for How To Tell Someone To Go To Therapy:

  1. Start by expressing your concern in a non-judgmental way. You might say something like, “I’ve noticed that you’ve been struggling a lot lately and I’m worried about you. I care about you and I want to see you happy and healthy.”

  2. Validate their feelings. Let them know that you understand that it’s not easy to talk about their feelings and that it’s okay to not feel okay.

  3. Share your own experiences with therapy. If you’ve gone to therapy yourself, you can share your own experiences and explain how it has helped you.

  4. Encourage them to seek professional help. You can suggest that they consider talking to a therapist or counselor, who can provide a safe and supportive space to explore their thoughts and feelings.

  5. Be prepared to offer resources. If the person is receptive to the idea of therapy, it can be helpful to offer some resources, such as a list of local therapists or information about how to find a therapist.

  6. Respect their decision. Ultimately, the decision to go to therapy is up to the individual. It’s important to respect their decision, even if it’s not what you had hoped for. If they decide not to go to therapy, you can still offer your support and encourage them to find other ways to take care of themselves.

  7. Follow up and check in. After the conversation, it’s important to follow up and check in with the person to see how they are doing. If they do decide to go to therapy, you can ask them how it’s going and offer your support.

It’s natural to feel anxious or uncertain about how to bring up the topic of therapy, but it’s important to remember that your love, concern and support can make a big difference in someone’s life. By approaching the conversation with kindness, respect and understanding, you can help encourage the person to seek the help they need to improve their mental health and well-being.

Allow yourself to feel good that you planted a seed.

dr aletta