How to Help When Therapy Is Needed

How to Help When Therapy Is Needed

Sometimes we see friends, relatives, or even co-workers 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
  • 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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