Should you tell loved ones you’re starting therapy?
Susan MoskopChicago Tribune
Q: You’ve decided talking to a therapist would benefit you, but you’re unsure about sharing this news. How should you approach the situation?
The process of counseling can get hard, so sometimes adding that layer of sharing the news isn’t a good idea.
Generally, if you can share with people who love and support you, it’s a great idea. But if you know that there are going to be detractors, then you should reconsider.
Also consider the issues at hand. If it’s a personal issue, then it’s something you can keep to yourself. Some situations are embarrassing or very personal, and you don’t have to let people in on that.
If the reason you are seeking therapy involves a partner or a parent, it might be worth it to let that person know you’re going to seek help.
If and when you’re ready to open up, remember to do it compassionately. Say, “This is something that’s important to me. I think I need help with this, and I’ve decided to go see someone.”
Emphasize that this is something you need to do for yourself.
Above all, be steadfast in your decision and say, “This is important to me, and I hope you come around.”
— Leo Loukas, counselor, Chicago Therapy Solutions
It is important to be transparent and open about therapy, but when someone is hesitant to share, the reason needs to be examined.
If you are seeking help with relationship issues, you should definitely consider sharing with your partner. In cases of abuse, however, it’s important not to share because that could create more conflict.
Give people enough information to help them understand why this is important. Think about your goal by asking yourself, “Why am I sharing this with my sister?”
Avoid blaming, shaming and guilting when approaching the person.
If someone is reacting defensively, practice empathy and reflecting. Say, “I can understand why this feels overwhelming, but I want to clarify that I’m going because there’s some difficulty in our relationship.”
— Elizabeth J. Burke, owner and founder of Empowered Therapy Inc.
Social Graces is a series asking two experts for advice on awkward situations. Responses are edited for space and clarity.