College & high school are transformative phases in life, filled with opportunities and of course, challenges.
For many students, these challenges can take a toll on their mental health, making the presence of a supportive friend invaluable. While you don’t need to be an expert, your understanding, empathy, and encouragement can make a significant difference in your friend’s journey. Here are my 10 tips to keep in mind on to effectively support friends who are going to therapy.
Being a good listener is foundational. Create a safe environment where your friend can share their thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment. Sometimes, all they need is someone who will listen and validate their feelings without immediately offering solutions.
Respect your friend’s boundaries regarding the details of their therapy sessions. Allow them to open up at their own pace, without prying. Respect their decision to maintain confidentiality, as their therapy journey is their own.
Express Empathy & Understanding
Empathy is a powerful tool. Try to genuinely understand their perspective and acknowledge their emotions. Let them know you’re there to support them and that their well-being matters to you.
Avoid Giving Unsolicited Advice
While your intentions are pure, be cautious with offering advice without being asked. It’s often better to ask if they’re open to suggestions before providing them. Sometimes, people seek validation and comfort before they’re ready for solutions.
Remind your friend of the importance of self-care and encourage them to engage in activities that bring joy. This can also be an opportunity to practice self-care together! Simple acts like taking a walk, practicing mindfulness, or spending time with loved ones can contribute positively to their overall well-being.
Offer Practical Support
Everyday help can go a long way. Offer to study together, share notes, or assist with errands. These small gestures show your genuine care and can alleviate some of their stress.
Set Boundaries for Yourself
Supporting a friend in therapy can be emotionally draining. Establish healthy boundaries to safeguard your own well-being. It’s okay to take a step back when you need to recharge.
Therapy often requires regularity for progress. Encourage your friend to stay committed to their therapy sessions, especially during tough times. Be willing to help them remember appointments or act as an accountability partner.
Start by learning about mental health and the importance of therapy. Understand that therapy is a positive step towards self-improvement and emotional well-being. Learning about common mental health concerns and their manifestations can help you better understand your friend’s situation.
Know When to Refer Them to the Professionals
While your support is invaluable, remember that you’re not a substitute for professional help. If your friend’s well-being is at risk or their struggles are complex, gently guide them towards seeking guidance from their therapist.
Supporting a friend in therapy is about being present, understanding, and compassionate.
Your companionship, empathy, and willingness to lend an ear can make a difference in their healing journey! Keep in mind that you’re part of a team that includes professional help, and your role as a friend is invaluable in their journey toward healing and growth.If you want to learn more about therapy or being there for your friend, call for a free 15-minute consultation call at 512-522-2765.