How to Help when therapy is needed

If someone else is struggling, are we being intrusive or caring when we encourage them to seek therapy from a psychologist

Sometimes we see friends, relatives, or even coworkers emotionally struggling. And yet, we feel stuck;

  • Should we mind our own business instead of getting nosy and intruding on someone else’s private life?
  • Should we take responsibility to show caring and compassion in a way that may make a difference in someone’s life?

The answer, if there is one, is complicated. We don’t want to intrude rudely, but we do have a responsibility. So, what can we do?

A lot depends on the type of relationship we have with them, and how severely they seem to be affected. In a long-term committed relationship built upon trust, we can be pretty open. Start with your own emotions, such as concern. In a casual relationship, or with an acquaintance, we have to be careful. Try a light “feeler,” such as “hard day, huh?” and go from there.

Let’s look at:


  • act out of anger, impatience, or other negative emotions
  • make threats; “either you see a shrink or I’m out of here.”
  • be controlling or bossy.
  • make critical remarks about their behavior


  • pick a quiet, confidential spot
  • start out casually, but show concern
  • self-disclose your own nonthreatening emotions
  • listen more than talk
  • avoid the word “help.” Some (mostly men?) interpret that as meaning they are incompetent
  • if you spot an opening, try a Call to Action; ‘’Hey, I hear there’s a really good doctor in town. Let me give you the phone number.”
  • In a close relationship, offer to go with them
  • Be patient  –  you may be dismissed the first try

You’ll probably get 1 of 2 reactions: 1) they will welcome the concern, as they were looking for a direction 2) they just aren’t ready yet. I think you’ll know pretty quickly which is which.

Rollin S Rhodes PhD

Licensed Clinical Psychologist     Ask for a free Consult:

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Disclaimer – This site is for informational and educational purposes only. The information is not intended to assess, diagnose, or treat any medical or mental health condition. Reading these articles does not constitute a patient-therapist relationship. Any decisions or actions taken by a reader are fully the responsibility of the reader. If therapy is required, see a qualified licensed provider. If there is a risky or emergency situation, contact your provider, Emergency Room, or call 988.

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