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Question Posted Monday July 6 2009, 6:27 pm

My boyfriend (24m) is having some problems with depression. He's on medication for it, but medication alone isn't a solution. I urged him to seek out counseling, and he actually listened to me.
He had one session and told me that he was incredibly frustrated and angry and didn't want to do it anymore. I convinced him to try again.
I've tried to explain to him that counseling helps because it allows the individual (or couple, or family) to speak with an outside, objective person, someone who isn't involved in the situation. The objectivity helps because the therapist's opinions and suggestions are unbiased and (usually) knowledgeable, and focus on finding the best solution to help the individual with the problem at hand. The purpose of talking is to address the turmoil going on so that the individual can understand it, and then move on from it, instead of suppressing it and allowing it to fester and cause further psychological distress and/or physical problems.
I have to point out that I'm not a professional therapist. I'm not even a psychology major (I'm doing a post-bacc degree), but I have a solid understanding of the concept, and he knows this. He's very resistant, and I feel like everything I say makes it worse, and makes him want to go even less.
I know I can't control him, nor do I want to, but I really really want him to go at least a couple of times.

What can I say to help persuade him to open up to his psychologist and give talk therapy a real shot?

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adviceman49 answered Saturday July 11 2009, 11:58 am:
I am a great deal older than most of the advisers on this site, so my advice will be somewhat different from what you have received and may continue to receive from others.

I agree with what the others have said about counseling. It is extremely important that the person being counseled be comfortable with the Counselor. Finding the right Counselor is to some extent like finding someone to work for you; you interview a number of people until you find that proper fit.

You say your boyfriend is on medication for depression. Did his family doctor prescribe this medication or did he see a Psychiatrist? If he was prescribed medication by his family doctor I would suggest he seek out a Psychiatrist to evaluate his depression and prescribe medication. No I don’t think your boy friend is crazy or that ill that he requires Psychiatric treatment. Family doctors are not fully trained in these areas, I know from firsthand knowledge as I suffer from Depression caused by Chronic Pain. I went through two psychologists before finding one who is both knowledgeable in the root cause of my depression and I was comfortable in talking with. The same holds true for the Psychiatrists as for as long as your boyfriend is on medication he will need to check in with the Psychiatrist on a regular basis for what is called med checks.

If you are not sure how to find these clinicians’ there are two ways to do so. The first and easiest way is to ask his family doctor for a referral to a Psychiatrist who you can then ask for a referral to a Psychologist. The second is to call the patient referral line at your local hospital and ask them to set up appointments for him.

Tell your boyfriend I know what he is going through and the pain he is feeling. There is light at the end of the tunnel. He needs to let his feelings out with his doctors, which may mean letting his guard down. This is okay to do for anything he says while in treatment is totally confidential. Nothing can be told to you, his parents or even other doctors without his permission.

For you, don’t ask him what went on in any of his treatment sessions. If he wants to tell you what went on is a session that is up to him. Just listen to what he has to say and take your queues from him. This is the hard part for you. If you question him too much he may close up, if you don’t question what he is willing to share he may feel you are not interested. My advice is to tell him that if you ask him a question he would rather not answer it is okay and you understand, that your feelings will not be hurt.

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mollyschroeder answered Tuesday July 7 2009, 2:55 pm:
Tell him that not talking about his problems will lead to even more depression and it will cause him to become even more frustrated and if it becomes bad enough he may eventually push you away. Guys don't like to talk about their feelings, but sometimes they have to. Tell him that if it gets bad enough he could end up pushing you away. He will try harder to keep you with him.

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dearcandore answered Tuesday July 7 2009, 12:50 pm:
Your boyfriend was angry and frustrated after his first session because therapy tends to dig up a lot of suppressed feelings. Its uncomfortable, and he was reacting to that. Try to keep encouraging him to return, no matter how uncomfortable it is. The longer he goes, the easier it will get, but he can't expect to just open up everything he's been pushing down for so long after just an hour of therapy. If he really wants to get better, he needs to look at therapy like working out. You wouldn't expect to get a "six-pack" by doing crunches for just one day. Same with therapy. It takes a while. Keep encouraging him, but don't push him. You may be coming off as a "know it all", and that doesn't help. Just be there, encourage, support and remember that he is the only one who can get help for himself. You can't MAKE him do anything. He has to want it for himself.

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WittyUsernameHere answered Tuesday July 7 2009, 5:08 am:
He needs to try other people. You have to be comfy with a counselor before you can open up, and you have to open up before they can do any good.

As a 24 year old guy who honestly needs counseling, and who has talked to a few before, I can attest to this. The first woman I talked to came across as a frigid bitch, and I simply cannot talk to guys about emotional shit, I have yet to find a woman that I connect to well enough to develop any trust and actually tell her whats going on with me.

He needs to keep trying though. Problems not addressed grow worse, not better. I'm dealing with my stuff decently well on my own, I'd do better if I had the time, energy, or money for a therapist right now.

But I know from experience how hard this shit is to confront. Keep encouraging him, and try not to turn this into anger or resentment on your part. He needs love and support, and gentle coaching when he refuses to do what he needs to. Don't back down, but don't bring it up every day either.

Also, try to talk to him yourself. Tell him you want to understand what he's going through. Don't be surprised if he can't open up, but let him know that any time day or night he wants to tell you something, that you're open and ready to help him.

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