Learning how to tactfully suggest therapy can be one of the most valuable tools that we offer to our loved ones. Those of us who have benefitted from therapy ourselves know that it can help us through a variety of difficult experiences, ambiguous thoughts, and conflicting feelings. However, we also know that unfortunately in our society there still is a bit of stigma associated with seeing a therapist. While we may not subscribe to that stigma ourselves, we want to be careful when recommending therapy to others so we don’t unintentionally activate this existing stigma. After all, we want to be helpful, and we certainly do not want to offend the people we only mean to assist.
Plastic Surgery: An Especially Touchy Subject
Knowing how to thoughtfully suggest therapy is even trickier if we are faced with it during the aftermath of surgery, especially plastic surgery. Our loved ones may feel particularly vulnerable at this time. They have just taken steps to change their physical appearance, which can lead to a variety of feelings, including a strong impact on self-esteem. We do not want to suggest that there is something “wrong” with them at this time when they may feel particularly sensitive.
How Therapy Helps After Plastic Surgery
Suggesting therapy is easiest when we come from a place of knowledge, and when we are secure in our reasons for the suggestion. That is why we first need to identify our concerns and how therapy can benefit the other person.
For example, some ways that therapy helps after plastic surgery include:
- Helps identify depression, which may develop or increase after surgery
- Offers coping tools for any disappointment with the results
- Reduces anxiety and possible doubts that may set in after surgery
- Increases relaxation and patience while going through the post-surgery healing phase
- Provides skills for reducing self-destructive behavior that may present for some people following surgery
- Strengthens self-esteem and comfort with a new look
- Assists in practicing behavioral skills for social situations following surgery
If we find ourselves in a situation where it is important to suggest therapy to someone we know, how can we approach the topic in the best way?
How to Tactfully Suggest Therapy After Plastic Surgery
The key to suggesting therapy, especially after plastic surgery, is to be gentle and consider their feelings. We want to offer suggestions in a way that is empowering and express unconditional love for the person regardless of their decisions.
Here are some specific suggestions for how to delicately suggest therapy to a loved one:
Come from a Place of Compassion, Kindness, and Caring
The most significant point to express is that we are concerned and we care. How can we achieve that? Some helpful strategies to convey a sense of concern include:
- Ensuring we are not judging or criticizing the person’s decisions
- Letting go of attachment to a particular outcome
- Using statements such as, “I really care about you” and “I see that you are more down lately”
- Explaining gently why we are concerned
Normalize the Experience
A loved one may feel shame about needing therapy or having had plastic surgery—or both. Hence, it is helpful to normalize these experiences, as well as to validate all of the feelings that come along with these situations.
Some ways to do this include:
- Share our own experiences with these matters (if we have any)
- Express understanding of the person’s feelings and let them know their feelings make sense
- Share our observations of their struggles
- Convey the understanding that what they are going through is indeed challenging
- Let the person know that therapy doesn’t mean there is something fundamentally wrong with them
- Explain to them how normal and human it is to want to gain clarity about confusing feelings and find relief from emotional discomfort
Answer Any Questions
One valuable service we can provide our loved one is to pay attention to the way they respond. They might ask questions, but more likely, they may express concerns that convey an underlying question.
For example, a person might say, “I do not want to be in therapy forever.” What they are really asking may be:
- How long does therapy last?
- Will this be in my budget?
- What will therapy be like?
- Is there something fundamentally wrong with me for needing therapy?
We can work to hear those underlying questions, then provide reassurance that speaks to the heart of the matter. For example, if the person really wants to know how long therapy will take, we can help them find information about short-term versus long-term therapeutic approaches.
Similarly, if the person has a concern about cost, we can explain that there are a variety of payment options that range from insurance-based plans to fee-for-service concierge services. After all, our loved one likely already has a great appreciation for physical and mental health. Our support will validate this existing strength of theirs and help them feel more internally secure in the face of these rightful worries and doubts that they have been harboring.
Sometimes answering questions will mean helping the person to access specific information, such as finding the right local therapist.
Offer Unconditional Support
If we want to skillfully suggest therapy, then one of the most effective things that we can do is to offer support. This goes back to the aspect of kindness and caring, of course, but it also takes it one step further. It allows us to let the person know not only that we care but that we are truly there for them.
Additionally, it is important to be clear about the ways that we are able to be supportive, which might include:
- Offering to drive them to the office or even attend the first session with them if they want added support
- Being available by phone during the day as needed
- Scheduling weekly lunch dates to catch up on their progress and healing after the surgery
- Continuing to do the things that we have always done together while making appropriate modifications to consider their healing status
Knowing how to tactfully suggest therapy is not always easy. However, it can be one of the most powerful things we do for someone when we notice they are struggling. We may not do it perfectly or professionally, but we can be considerate, gentle, and loving in our approach.
Some people do not know this, but helpful therapy specifically designed for those who are considering plastic surgery is also available. This type of mental health evaluation can help people determine if they are a good candidate for surgery and receive the appropriate support to help them manage their expectations of surgery. Learn more here.