Helping a Family Member or Friend Begin Therapy
One of the most common calls I receive as an administrative assistant for Healing First Counseling comesfrom those calling on behalf of a family member or friend.
First, kudos for taking the initiative to help someone in need of mental health. It’s often hard to do research, make phone calls, and schedule appointments when you are not in a mental state of mind to do so.
We will discuss a few ways on how you can help, including:
– Calling and verifying insurance
– Finding a list of therapists who fit the criteria and needs of the friend/family
– Researching options for the best type of counseling
First, Is this an emergency? I always want to make it clear that if you are calling for someone in a crisis
situation, such as threatening suicide, please take them to the nearest emergency room or call 911.
Individual Practices with Licensed Professional Counselors are not set up as crisis centers. While they
can help with suicidal ideation, private practice therapists are set up to help individuals find tools to help
with anxiety, depression, relational issues, and other personal issues that may affect daily lives. They do
not prescribe medication for psychotic episodes or have facilities to offer in-patient services, which is
often needed when suicidal attempts are made.
Are they 18 years are older? If you are calling on a behalf of a teen, please refer to our blog on teen
counseling for recommendations on scheduling a teen. If you are calling for an adult, we are happy to
provide information including pricing, availability, and required documents. This allows the friend in
need to only think of what is in front of them, taking one step at a time. Present a list of 3-5 counselors
and their practice policies and therapist backgrounds. However, because they are considered an adult,
once they make their final decision, we would need a final phone call or text from the client confirming
they are in agreement to seek therapy. Counseling must be mutually agreed upon and wanted. You
cannot force someone to do counseling if they are not open to it. Encouraging them to try 2-3 sessions is
a good start. Letting them know that this trial period can be stopped at any time and that if the therapist is
not a good fit, they can always try a new therapist.
Create a List of Therapists. If using insurance, companies can provide a list of in network providers in
your required zip code. We offer availability with the best fit therapist depending on your needs. We can
also give referrals and suggestions for websites that may be of assistance. If you are not sure what your
family/friend prefers, try to include a variety of therapist including older, younger, male, female, etc.
Your list can include name, picture if available, insurances accepted, private rate pay, availability,
specializations, and any other information you may find useful. If you think they will contemplate this
list for a bit, you may include the National Suicide Prevention hotline number at the very bottom, 1-800-
273-8255 or simply dial or text “988”
Call and Verify insurance. Many insurance companies provide mental health coverage. Be specific, as
mental health coverage can be different from medical health coverage. Most insurance cards have a
phone number on the back for customer service. Inquire with their insurance to see if mental health
services are a part of the plan and the possible requirements for copay or deductible. If they have a
deductible that must be met first and they have not met it yet, learn the therapist’s contracted rate per
session. If your friend or family member does not have insurance, inquire the private rate for the
therapists you contact.
Lastly and most importantly, let them know they are not alone. According to the National Institution of
Mental Health latest statistic (2020), 1 in 5 adults suffer from mental illness. As with any other illness,
having support in family/friends is key.
Jennifer Ramirez, Administrative Assistant