"Jack" has had a severe personal trauma in the 80ies as a young adult and as a result had a series of very unfortunate experiences with neurologists and psychologists within a confined hospital unit. Since then, he vehemently refuses to seek out any professional help with the argument that "psychologists" (referred to psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists alike, all thrown into the same pot) hurt more than they help and put financial compensation way before the well-being of the patient.

Jack is, from the point of view of several close friends, in need of psychotherapy (mainly because of depression and the unhealthily resolved trauma) but refuses to seek out professional help until today. Jack is of no threat to his surroundings and is able to get by without professional help but the external view of the quality of his life is stagnating at best and deteriorating at worst (which I know can also be seen as normal symptoms of aging, but it is the severity which is alarming). Jacks personal view of his life is often ambiguous.

My question is if there is any way I can argue to convince Jack to at least try out a few sessions of psychotherapy? What I've tried so far ranges from

  • trying to move the notion of psychologists and therapy in a better light
  • reporting on my positive personal experiences with psychotherapy
  • trying to shine light on the deterioration of the life quality
  • doing absolutely nothing and accepting the situation as is

I would like to avoid being a "know-it-all" by putting my perception about Jack above his own. But I know that Jack would be in a much better state of being if he could rehabilitate his trauma with the help of a professional and empathetic outsider.

  • How do you know this person? You describe them as a "close acquaintance", but that doesn't say much. – apaul Feb 16 '18 at 16:40

Instead of trying to push him down a road he clearly does not wish to travel, point him to other resources, and let him reach his own conclusions on whether he requires more help or not.

Some may not agree, but I would point him to Jordan Peterson's online (YouTube) video series on getting one's life in order, taming your inner demons, and taking personal responsibility.

His book - 12 Rules for Life - may be something that your friend would benefit greatly from reading. Peterson is a clinical psychologist by the way. If your friend likes the book, it may well change his mind on how useful the professionals in that field are to people.

There are many similar resources on the web, and your friend may become far more receptive after accessing some of them.

  • I would love it if down-voters explained their views, such that I can either improve my answer, or offer counter-points. Thanks! – AndreiROM Feb 16 '18 at 17:28

Does he know or is aware that he needs help? You said that he needs help from the point of view of close friends - but what does Jack think? Jack isn't going to see someone professionally if he doesn't think he needs it.

If Jack acknowledges that he needs help, he just doesn't think paying someone to do it is useful, then perhaps you or someone similar can play devils advocate, and suggest he talk to you about his problems. You may be able to help a bit, (which may even be enough), but you could point that your advice can only go so far since you don't have the credentials, and someone professionally would be able to help better. That might make he change his mind.

If he doesn't see that he needs help, then there's not much you can do. However if there comes a time where he is facing hard times, maybe PTSD, anxiety etc., you could say a few positives words but then suggest "if you don't want to talk or would prefer to let someone who knows this stuff more than me talk to you then I'm happy to help. I could help you make an appointment if you wish."

What I'm saying is, you may not be able to point it out in general, but maybe only when a certain point in time occurs.

EDIT: Maybe Jack just needs someone to talk to who has experienced what he has so that he feels he is better understood. Before suggesting professionals you could try to find a support group or a forum online for people with his condition/experiences


I would start with a medical doctor, who can do a number of things:

  • discuss the pros and cons of medications for the depression

  • do a depression screening (this in itself can help a person realize that life could be better, which can open a dialogue and/or create motivation for change

  • create better awareness of the relationship between mood and physical health

A good doctor can show earnest interest in Jack's well-being, overall. This can be a good start towards better health in all regards.

That's my main suggestion. Minor ideas: a clergy person he could talk to, a well-led support group, see if he would like to volunteer with the Mental Health Association by answering the crisis line or the warm line (another hotline people can call, but for non-crisis issues), watch a movie together where someone reaches healthy insights through therapy, make sure he's eating healthy and getting exercise, and if not, invite him to eat and/or exercise with you.

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