This is a question I am frequently asked, be it concern for a spouse, a parent, a son or daughter or even a friend. You can see that they need to talk to a counsellor about what they are experiencing however try as you might, all your attempts to get them there are met with resistance.
Here are some strategies that, used appropriately, may encourage your partner to see a counsellor:
1. Do not nag or give ultimatums that you have no intention of carrying out. It may sometimes work however generally these tactics build resentment and resistance deeming it unlikely that your partner will be willing to fully participate in counselling.
2. If you haven't already, go to a counsellor yourself. The benefits include
- getting to know the counsellor and their style.
- ‘walking the talk' i.e. your partner will be more open to counselling if they know you have been prepared to ‘try it'.
- having a personal opportunity to talk to a counsellor about the concerns you have for your partner. Often we fail to recognise how our own anxiety for the other can exacerbate the problem.
- making personal changes is the most powerful testimony that counselling works!
3. If you are linked in with a counsellor, pass on their details to your partner for them to read when they choose to. If the counsellor has a website and/or blog, give your partner the website address and allow them to check it out at their disgression. Often a partner might prefer to go to a different counsellor to yourself. If that is the case, encourage them to do so. You could ask your counsellor for a recommendation.
As a counsellor, in discussion with my own clients, I have actioned some strategies that have been met with success. You may choose to talk to your counsellor about these strategies:
4. The counsellor may write a letter inviting the partner to a shared session suggesting that their knowledge and input would be helpful or alternatively to contact the counsellor for a free 10 minute consultation about what to expect from counselling. This may be hand delivered by you or sent by post.
5. The counsellor might send a ‘thinking of you card' with an appropriate message. In my own experience as a counsellor, this has met with considerable success because it has the effect of reducing the feeling of isolation for your partner and communicates to them the message of care and concern.
Ultimately, it is important to be patient and loving as you encourage your partner to try counselling. A person's readiness for counselling always plays a significant part in the effectiveness of counselling, so allow your partner to come to their own decision. For yourself, practice patient and kindness as you gently encourage your partner and be sure to go to a counsellor yourself to deal with the inevitable feelings of anxiety you hold in the meantime. Please let me know on the comments below the effectiveness or otherwise of these strategies. I look forward to hearing from you.
If you would like to know more about how to support someone experiencing depression or need personal support in coping with depression or any other mental health issue contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.