“So, what did you talk about?”
I did a mini-survey among the youth I see in therapy and with the people in my program and we agree that this is the question most people ask someone about their therapy. Unfortunately, it’s also the question they hate the most.
Therapy works when it is a private conversation between a therapist and their patient or client. Let your friend or family member have their privacy and avoid asking this question, as curious as you may be. If you must say something, say you love them, say you admire them for going to therapy, say you’ll support them in therapy.
Support for someone in therapy means being available for them emotionally. If they want to talk, listen. Remind them of your love and support. Notice when they are looking after themselves or practising self-care. Invite them to do something with you that they also enjoy as a treat. Send them a letter of encouragement – it’s always nice to get a real letter in the mail. There are also practical things you can do, beyond the emotional support. You can drive them to their appointment or even help pay for a session, if you can afford it and if you know that, as essential as therapy is, they cannot really afford the money.
How often do you hear people say negative things about people in therapy or even therapy itself?
“The gym is my therapy.”
“You don’t need therapy. Just find a good friend.”
“You think too much about yourself.”
All these statements are difficult for someone who is hurting to hear, so avid them. If you hear someone making these statements to someone in therapy, counter it with a positive statement.
“It takes a lot of courage to go to therapy.”
“Therapy is hard work. I admire that you are doing this.”
Of all the psychological and pharmacological treatments, therapy has the best outcomes according to research. If one kind of therapy doesn’t seem helpful, suggest that your friend or family member try another. This article has some information about the types of therapy available.
Therapy can make the most difference in the outcome of mental illness. Those whose treatment is therapy or for whom therapy is part of their treatment manage best in the long run.
Photography by Priscilla Du Preez (Unsplash)