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Finding Help For Others

Reviewed by Psychology Today Staff

It can be incredibly challenging to watch a friend, family member, or romantic partner struggle with emotional or behavioral problems. Many people avoid or delay seeking treatment that could improve their lives, which can make those who care about them feel powerless to help. But there are a variety of steps people can take to encourage someone they care about to consider professional support.

How can I convince someone to seek therapy?

While you cannot force anyone to enter therapy, you can ask about what they are struggling with and how they are coping, anticipate potential resistance to therapy, listen to the reasons why they might be hesitant to try therapy, and speak with them about why therapy could be worthwhile, despite these concerns.

What if my loved one refuses to go to therapy?

If the person is resistant to therapy at first, you can follow up on the possibility at a later point. You can assure the person that you will respect the privacy of the conversations they have with a therapist, and offer to make the process easier by helping to find a therapist, arranging a consultation, providing transportation and, if desired, accompanying them to their first sessions.

What if a loved one needs inpatient care?

For someone who poses an immediate danger to themselves or to others, more intensive, inpatient treatment may be an option. This can include voluntary as well as involuntary hospitalization, though the latter may be less effective than a voluntary stay. In-patient treatment can last roughly a week to a week-and-a-half, but may be shorter or longer depending on the individual’s symptoms and recovery.

What if a loved one needs inpatient treatment for substance abuse?

Individuals with a severe drug or alcohol use disorder may benefit from long-term inpatient treatment. The steps their loved ones can take to help research and obtain the best treatment possible include the following:

Should I consider a family intervention?

Loved ones of someone struggling with drug or alcohol abuse or another mental health condition may be tempted to aggressively confront that person, perhaps together as a family—but there are serious limitations to this approach. It may be more advisable to avoid negativity and threats, offer kindness and encouragement, and clearly communicate your care for and desire to support the person.

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