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How To Get Men (and Women) To Go To Counseling

When it comes to mental health counseling there is no other being more afraid of the idea than Black men lol. In fact, I have many clients who are in counseling to cope with the stress of the person who really needs it (typically men) but refuses to go. It can really cause havoc on marital, family and even work relationships.

As a man I get it...we don't like to ask for help, admit fault, and/or feel like the problem. However, how can we really endorse a decision to not get help and intentionally stress our loved ones out (wife, girlfriend, parents, kids, co-workers, friends, etc.). How can fear or discomfort be a "manly" or "womanly" (trying not to get in trouble here) reason to not seek help or solution?

Let's be real. If we know you have issues with past trauma, anger management, being too passive (talking about what you want to do but not doing it), insecurity, trust, socializing, cheating, depression, anxiety, communication, relationships, substance abuse, etc. why would you not take action to be well?

It really doesn't make much sense if your goal is wellness, growth and joy. Personally, I could care less about the stigma of getting help. I care more about struggling and failing and the stigma of that! I refuse to stress, conflict or life issues to derail the life God has afforded me. Besides, this world is ROUGH and I need all of the help, wise counsel and therapy I can get. I have dreams, a family and my own joy to focus on.

Quick note, even though I am focusing on primary men in this post, there are plenty of women who resist going to counseling too. It pains me to see relationship after relationship suffer because the same issues keep causing conflict. Ask yourself, ladies, would you rather be proud or happy? Get those issues worked out so that you can take a whole, healthy woman into your marriage, friendships and business quests!

Okay, let's quickly address six solutions for convincing someone you love (male or female) to go counseling:

1) Choose the right time- Be both proactive and reactive in suggesting counseling. Many clients come into counseling immediately after a regrettable event (getting fired, wife left the house, etc.) and a loved one recommended it out of concern. Make sure you are strategic at striking when the iron is hot (after a problem) and often (when things are going well but they have a pattern of inconsistency). You would be surprised how well revisiting the suggestion of seeking counseling works after someone has failed to get better over time (doing it their way didn't work).

2) Approach with care vs. judgment- Make sure you start the conversation by expressing how much you care about them as a person. Judge the behavior (drinking, angry outbursts, anxiety, irritability, infidelity, etc.) versus the person. This helps to avoid defensiveness. Also, give them the vision- "I want to see you be well, happier and thrive in life or for our marriage to work." Market counseling as something that will make them stronger vs. feel stigmatized.

3) Carrot & Stick Approach- Tell your loved one what could be gained (the carrot) by going to counseling. For instance, "We could stop arguing and begin to communicate well enough to enjoy our marriage again,"

Next, tell them what could be lost (the stick) if he/she refuses to take action. "We can keep arguing, eventually fall out of love with one another and divorce and break our family apart." This is not an ultimatum but rather a dose of reality that many people need to hear to seek treatment before it is too late.

4) Overcome Objections Effectively- Be prepared to help your loved one out with some common objections:

"Counseling costs too much"

Response- "Your insurance probably covers all or some of the cost and aren't you worth it?"

"I don't have the time"

Response- "Interesting...but you have the time to stress me out by not changing and who better to invest in other than yourself?"

"I can beat this on my own"

Response- I agree that you can beat this but not on your own. Your lack of action and pride are hurting those around you. Are you aware of what this is doing to us?"

"I don't trust therapists"-

"They are bound to confidentiality, so you don't even need to trust them. You can sue if they tell your personal business. That's more trust than friends or family lol."

"What is talking going to do?"

Response- "How about lead you to get better, get rid of issues and improve your overall well-being? Is that enough of a reason?"

Do you catch the flavor for how you can overcome common objections when you keep the main thing (mental wellness and problem-solving) the main thing?

5) Share Your "Why" & Own Experience with Counseling- The most effective strategies for getting someone to go into counseling are actually:

A) Share your mindset about why you would go to counseling:

"I don't know much about therapy either, but I wouldn't risk losing my marriage because I didn't at least try."

"I don't know how much it will cost either, but our son is struggling and failing out of school is not an option."

"I don't know how to stop anxiety and need some advice from a professional because it is costing me too much joy."

B) Share your experience with coaching, counseling and consulting.

"I actually took our daughter to counseling for social anxiety and she is much happier and has a better group of friends now."

"I went to counseling a few years back when we started arguing and it actually helped both of us make changes. We decided we would not be a statistic and I'm glad we went."

"I just couldn't see myself losing everything I worked hard for due to depression, so I went in ASAP to get it fixed. Everyone noticed that I was happier, and I still go now because I need a place to vent, think, and not worry about what other people think when I talk."

6) Help with the Logistics & Scheduling- The biggest issue I see with men is not knowing how to search, schedule or understand insurance benefits. Looking for a therapist, especially during the middle of a mental health crisis in a pandemic, is a challenge but worth the effort. So, get your loved one to commit to going and then help him/her with the scheduling. Be sure to check for "fit" because all therapists are not created equal. You can even offer to give them a ride to the appointment for accountability and support or even go to the session with them as a "supporter."

I've done plenty of sessions with men with their wife who gave me some background and then disappeared and never came back in. All the brother needed was administration, support and a jumpstart.

In summary, your mental health is too important to ignore. It is often worth making a stand to create peace for yourself when a loved one is struggling. Who has time for prolonged stress, especially in times like these?

Imagine how relieved you will feel when your loved actually agrees to go and it works. Now that makes reading this post worth every second. Good luck and God Bless!


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