by Andrea M. Darcy
Do you love your partner, but feel your relationship is stuck on repeat because of his or her behaviour? Know your partner needs therapy but they are just not listening to you?
Is it wrong to ask your partner to go to therapy?
If you keep suggesting to a partner that they need support, it’s important to take an honest look at your intentions for making the suggestion and what it means.
- Do you suggest they seek therapy because you are worried and concerned about them, and want them to feel better? Did you make the suggestions in calm, connected moments?
- Or are you deep down just sick of listening to them, secretly want them to rely on someone else, or want to prove that ‘they are the crazy one’, not you? Do you suggest they go to therapy during arguments?
If the second paragraph feels uncomfortably familiar, it might be that you are using sending them to therapy as a way to disguise the fact that your relationship just isn’t working.
Do your intentions fall into the first paragraph? And you really are concerned your partner is not his or herself lately and want to help? Read on.
How to tell your partner they need counselling
Telling someone they need therapy is something that should be done carefully, with much thought and tact. Or it might have the reverse affect. It might mean they become adamant they’ll never go.
Whether it’s There is a definite art to how to tell a loved one they should try counselling. Here’s what you really need to keep in mind.
1. Forget the advice – it never works.
We can get so used to telling our partner what to do we call it all sorts of things. We say it’s ‘support’, ‘being helpful’, even ‘showing love’.
It’s still advice. And advice is really judgement.
Stop giving advice, and only offer your opinion after listening.
Think you already do listen? Research listening skills – it might be more involved than you realise.
If you get really good at listening, and learn to ask good questions, it gives your partner a chance to reflect. It means they are far more likely to realise they want help by themselves.
2. Be honest and clear about your reasons for thinking they could use support.
Saying “I just think it is a good idea you go to counselling, that’s all,” is too vague.
Let them know the truth. Your vulnerability will encourage theirs. “I feel like I can’t connect to you anymore, and it’s making me feel lonely.”
Offer concrete examples to support your opinion. “We are all worried” is less helpful than, “I noticed you are no longer going to the gym or playing guitar and aren’t sleeping at night, and it’s concerning e.”
3. Don’t make the issue about them, make it about the behaviour.
We are all much more than our difficult behaviours, including your partner. You do, after all, love your partner, and they do have a good side or you wouldn’t be with them.
So tell them you find their lying difficult, not ‘you are a liar and it’s difficult’. Or that, ‘when your temper is out of control I feel overwhelmed‘, not ‘you are such an angry person it scares me’.
4. Get informed about what you are suggesting.
Do some research about their issues (although do NOT offer them a diagnosis! Internet research is not always reliable and you are not a doctor).
And make it easy for them. Sometimes they are too proud to admit they think it’s too expensive, for example. Find out how your family could afford therapy or how to access a good therapist.
5. Better yet, lead by example.
Often the best way to encourage someone to work on their psychological wellbeing is to work on your own. If your issues with your partner have been there in some form since the beginning, it’s inevitable you have matching issues to deal with yourself.
Even if you don’t go to therapy just yet, start by looking at ways you can take care of yourself mentally and emotionally. Could your self-care regime use some work? Do you need to invest time in getting to know more about yourself through some journaling, or starting a mindfulness practise? Are there any self-help books that seem right for you? Do you need to finally deal with your money issues?
6. Be patient – it’s their choice, not yours.
The truth is, that therapy only works if someone chooses to go. If they are not ready, then they are not ready, and that is up to them.
Yes, you might be their partner, but they are still a person with free will! Try to remain supportive but don’t forget to take care of yourself and have the boundaries in place you need to do so.
7. Remember the most important thing.
You cannot change another person, you can only change yourself.
If you have convinced yourself things will be fine ‘if only your partner would go to therapy’ ? You might want to ask yourself if you are willing to accept them the way they are. And if not, what is the next step?
When you should NOT tell someone to seek therapy
It’s important to never put your health or the health of the other party at risk.
If you are in the relationship with someone who is in any way abusive, do not offer them advice as this could trigger them. Seek help to leave the relationship as soon as possible.
Please also take note that if your partner is suffering severe psychological or emotional distress or has a history of mental health episodes, and they seem in danger of hurting themselves or others? A stronger intervention might be called for. Seek advice from other involved family members or if things seem critical do call the appropriate authorities.
Time to seek couples counselling? Harley Therapy offers some of the best couples therapists in London who now also offer couples therapy over the internet.
Andrea M. Darcy is a mental health writer who also works as a freelance therapy consultant, helping others save time and money by guiding them on what therapy would work best for them and how to find a therapist.