How to recommend therapy
HelloSelf receives a lot of personal recommendations which is a testimony to the work we do and to how people are actively supporting those around them, and talking openly about therapy and its benefits.
How do you go about recommending therapy to someone?
Choose your moment
It may seem like there’s never a perfect time and that’s because there isn't. Don’t wait for a perfect time but do be thoughtful about when and where you choose to have your chat. Talking and walking is great - it can be lighter than a sit down conversation, there are welcome distractions if needed and you activate bilateral stimulation (ask your therapist what this is).
Notice and wonder
Offer an explanation about why you’ve thought therapy might be helpful using concrete examples that you’ve noticed. “I noticed that you haven’t seemed like yourself recently”, “I noticed that you haven’t been to the last two get togethers” AND “ I wondered if everything was alright” “I wondered if something had changed”. If you’ve had a positive experience of therapy yourself - then sharing it has a powerful impact.
Ask open questions
Open-ended questions require a full answer, using the person’s own thoughts, knowledge or feelings. “What happened after I left?”, “What do you think might help?”. Closed questions can be answered in a short or single-word answer. They’re used for clarification- “Did it all work out OK?”, “That sounds really hard, are you alright?” Closed-ended questions narrow the scope and bring conversations to a halt. They don’t invite or encourage people to elaborate or talk about themselves.
Practice with someone by asking a follow-up question to “How was your day?” - choose something in their answer to ask an open ended question about. Often people turn-take in conversation rather than investigate further into an answer.
Open questions require a person to pause, think, and reflect - so don’t be tempted to fill any silences with another question. Listening is a skill. It’s giving your attention to the person answering - it’s different to waiting for your turn to speak.
Give them information about therapy, what to expect, how it works. We have a page you can share or forward here. Allow them time to consider it. It’s ok to check-in with them a few weeks later about what they decided to do.
“To be respectfully curious is a good aim to have when enquiring about something personal to someone. Many of us fear overstepping the mark or being intrusive, pushy or nosey - if your enquiry stems from care and you remain respectfully curious - the risks of truly offending someone are low……. I’d also say it’s worth risking mildly irritating someone in order to find out how they really are and to offer something of benefit.”
Dr Annemarie O’ConnorClinical Psychologist / Chief Growth Officer, HelloSelf