Friendships are so important. They enhance our self-worth. They make it easier to endure some of the challenges and obstacles that come with life. Good friends are there for us and remind us that we aren't alone-even when we feel like no one else can understand. Our friends cheer us up when we've had a crappy day and celebrate our accomplishments with us.
It's not uncommon to have specific friends that you can count on for particular needs. You may have a go-to friend for relationship advice, another who is always down for a good turn-up, and a different friend you count on for spiritual insight.
But what do you do when you know something seems "off" with a friend of yours? Perhaps you notice some changes, and you're concerned.
As we continue to strive to combat the stigma associated with therapy, we must consider that encouraging our friends to seek professional help is not offensive. It doesn't mean you are labeling your friend as unstable or crazy-it means you are a friend.
Still, I know that this can be a really uncomfortable situation to be in, so we've developed a list of signs that your friend could potentially benefit from the support of a therapist to help you decide if you should make the suggestion and why. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
6 Signs Your Friend Might Need A Therapist:
1. Not Enjoying Things They Used to Love- Perhaps you notice some of the things your friend used to love to do doesn't do it for them anymore. Maybe they've dropped a hobby or passion of theirs.
2. Breakups, Job Changes, Deaths in the Family, and More-We simply can't avoid hardships and challenges-they will happen. If you know you have a friend who has been through some stressors or life changes recently, and they seem to be struggling with coping, it might be time to suggest a therapist.
3. Increased Use of Substances-An increase in substance use can be a sign that your friend is using those substances to cope or numb.
4. Unhealthy Behavior on Social Media- Maybe you've noticed some posts by your friend that seem out of character for them. This can also look like your friend being consumed by social media or losing sight of their values based on social media.
5. They're Getting Sick, But Doctors Say They're Fine- Many people don't make the connection between how you feel emotionally and how you feel physically, but they are very much connected. A friend who reports not feeling well but with no medical explanation could be experiencing somatization. That just means their psychological distress is manifesting as physical symptoms.
6. Isolation- When we are in emotional pain, it not uncommon to turn inward and isolate. Sometimes it's because we tell ourselves we are burdensome to the people in our lives, and often times the isolation has a lot to do with feeling ashamed. If you have a friend who has been more "to themselves" than usual, it might be a sign that they need some help.
So now that you have some guidance as far as signs that your friend might need to talk to a therapist, now you might be asking, "well, how do I say it?"
If you are nervous or afraid to bring this up to a friend-as yourself, "What's the truth?" and let that guide you. For most people, the truth is that you are concerned about someone you love, and this is your way of trying to be helpful and supportive. Share what you notice that's causing your concern. Be prepared for your friend to either accept your advice or not. If she doesn't take your advice, ask her how you can be supportive of her moving forward. If she does, you'll be glad you dared to say something.