Now more than ever, our community is telling us that they need support when dealing with mental health challenges. Each of us probably knows at least one person who is receiving or has received counselling in the past. As a family member or friend of someone who is receiving counselling, it is important to recognize that your support is significant and there are many ways you can learn to best support your loved ones as they begin their journey through counselling.
You play a pivotal role
First and foremost, it is important to recognize that you play a pivotal role of someone’s support system – keep this in mind as you help your loved one work through counselling.
Be present, not just physically, but emotionally as well. By simply being there it shows that you believe in your loved one and support their decision to get help. It allows them to draw strength from you in their time of need and have reassurance that no matter what, you are there to support them. Being present can be as simple as talking over the phone, having a coffee in person or sending an encouraging text or email. Emotional presence is also a key component of showing your support. Emotional presence shows that you have acknowledged their state of mental health, accepted their choice to seek counselling and indicated your intentions to support them in whatever way you can.
Be open to invitations
Some counsellors may invite you, your family or friends to a session if he or she thinks that it is beneficial to the client in counselling. Be open and accepting of this, as it can be effective in helping your friend or family member create the positive changes they are looking for.
Acknowledge positive changes
Much of the work done in counselling is done outside of the sessions, where people put the lessons and thoughts they have learned into practice. When you notice a positive change, is important to recognize it. Acknowledging progress lets your loved one know that you are paying attention and are invested in their well-being.
Respect their choice to not talk about counselling
After counselling, your loved one might not want to talk about what was discussed in the sessions. The best thing to do is respect this. It is important to respect your loved one’s privacy and to not push for information before they are ready to share. Often it can be difficult to pass off the role of confidante to someone else, but becoming too emotionally involved may have a negative impact on their progress. You shouldn’t take offense if your loved one hasn’t talked to you about their experience, or never talks to you about it at all. Sometimes people just need support outside of personal relationships.
If your friend or family member does open up to you about their mental health challenges or counselling experience, the best thing you can do is simply listen. Resist the urge to offer any guidance that may contradict what their counsellor has said.
Continue praising their decision to get help
The hardest step to making your mental health a priority is acknowledging that you need help. For those new to counselling, it can be intimidating at first. Many people wait years before making the decision to seek help. By acknowledging and supporting your loved one’s decision to get help you can help to improve their state-of-mind every day.
For more than 55 years, Calgary Counselling Centre has been helping Calgary and area residents make positive change in their lives.
To learn more about our programs and services or to register for counselling, call 403-691-5991 or click here to schedule an appointment with a counsellor today.
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