The elder sister of my boyfriend is in a situation I would not envy: being in her 50s, jobless and no qualification, married to someone she doesn't really love and controlling her finance tightly, have an adult kid that is sometimes behaving somewhat selfish and careless toward them (e.g. invite himself with girlfriend home, doesn't contribute to chores nor financially, sometimes break stuff he promises to repair but doesn't). She often complains but may have difficulties getting things done from what I've heard from my boyfriend, since ever. From my experience, although she has moments of being happy with very simple things, she does speak a lot negatively of past events, although from a very nuanced language. In general I'd say she gives the feeling of being usually unhappy.

I'm nowhere near qualified to know if she would benefit from therapy, but recently she asked for my psychiatrist coordinates. In my book, if someone asks for that kind of detail, they qualify as being in need for help and sometimes urgently, so I gave it and started worrying a bit. Fast forward two weeks, she didn't give my psychiatrist a call. We have that discussion about why, she explains a few things about lacking courage and not feeling deserving it but my boyfriend cuts conversation a bit abruptly; he is convinced she will never go because he pictures her as liking to complain but never doing anything to change (which might be a reason she needs help, mind you, and we had a small dispute about it, but that's another story).

We're in a difficult setting to have long private conversations since she is married, have grown-up kid often home, I have my boyfriend, but we sometimes have a conversation in her garden when my boyfriend visits them (we often do since they are quite close-by). I have her number also, but I rather plan to have a in-person conversation about giving the psychiatrist a try since she felt the need for it.

I know that research for psychiatrists can be long and difficult since many are fully booked in my area. I'm not sure how well prepared for this she is, but I would like to give her any help I can finding and finding courage to go. From my experience, it's been very much worth it. I have been diagnosed and treated efficiently and got rid of my depressing teens much more efficiently than with any kind of self-help advice. Since we are quite different I have no idea how convincing my own experience will be, though.

How can I encourage her in her initial will to go to therapy, or convince her she hasn't much to lose trying? I'm not looking for specific arguments but general idea/strategy I could adopt.


1 Answer 1


I was in a similar situation myself, but I was the person who wants to find help for myself.

Two things helped me to overcome the initial pushback:

First I found a person who had used this help before (in my case it was a self-help group) and was comfortable with the circumstances, like house/rooms where it was and the other people and conventions/rules. So I had someone to ask questions to, for example what behavior is accepted, what equipment I should have with me or similar (maybe trivial, but for me helpful) things.

Second thing was a thinking-position I used to calm my mind. Especially this questions "What if all went horrible wrong?" - For this I used a thinking on the line "I could end it at every time. I could have a look on it, but could any time decide to not use this help. I am not owing anybody something. I am the only one who is allowed to make this decision for me."

It worked for me, I visited this help and used it for nearly a year. From previous experince I knew, that if this initial pushback is over, and I am starting something, then it is less stressful to do the thing itself, than this time before start, when I have a lots of thinking and "what if" in my mind.

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