What to Do When Your Parent Refuses Professional Help

Conversation with a parent who refuses professional help.

Have you ever felt helpless or frustrated when a parent refuses professional help? You can see how troubled they are but you can’t convince them to talk to someone about it. If so, you are not alone. Here is a quote from a woman in that exact situation. She wrote:

“I moved in with my mother not long ago and have noticed how depressed she is over some family and personal issues she’s dealing with. I tried to persuade her to get professional help, but she’s not open to that. So what can I do? How can I get her to agree to talk to someone?”

Why People Refuse Professional Help

There are reasons why people, especially seniors, are reluctant to get help for personal, emotional issues. Some of it stems from an older adult’s need to appear strong. In fact, a mental health study found that only 1 in 3 people actually seek help for their issues.

Another obstacle: Often those with mental health problems don’t believe they’re sick, according to psychiatrist Dr. Mark S. Komrad. He says it’s critical for family and friends to step in. It’s possible they could improve or save a life.

Also, whether real or imagined, there is a stigma attached to therapy. Many seniors would rather talk to their hair stylist or golf partner than seek professional help. They don’t feel their issues are at a level that requires mental health support. But in reality, many are buoyed with the help of a therapist or counselor.

This is where sessions with a personal consultant comes in. Personal consulting is the path chosen by many with the credentials to work as psychologists, counselors or therapists. They opt to work as a personal consultant because they want to make a difference in people’s lives and counseling can be less intimidating and more accessible. It’s like a chat with a friend, which makes it easier for some seniors to accept.

What is Personal Consulting?

A personal consultant will listen to your problems with a non-judgmental ear, offer empathy, and provide feedback to help solve your problems. So you, or your parents, can feel better, fast. There’s no need to commit to years of analysis or travel great distances to seek help.

With personal consulting, the focus is on problem solving and conflict resolution in the here and now. And because it can be done over the phone or computer, your loved one doesn’t even have to leave their home.

Here are some paths to help persuade your parents:

  • Speak about the need for support with compassion and empathy.
  • Discuss the topic in a quiet, calm place.
  • Use “I” statements. For example, instead of “you need help” try “I’m worried about you.”
  • Explain an improvement would be a gift to you and others in the family.
  • Find a personal consultant for your parents and make an appointment.

Above all, explain to your parent the differences between psychotherapy and personal consulting so he or she will feel more relaxed in their first session. For instance, try showing them the benefits of connecting with a counselor who understands older adults.

Kendall Van Blarcom is a senior helping seniors. Contact Van Blarcom Consulting today for help with your personal problems. Or, reach out to provide support for an older adult in your life.

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