How To Help Someone With Psychosis Who Doesn’t Want Help

Posted on September 12th, 2023

Life isn't always predictable. I recall a dear friend who began acting out of character, seemingly overnight. 

Their perceptions shifted, and they began expressing beliefs that just didn’t align with reality. 

As concerned friends and family, we felt lost. How do we help someone who doesn’t even believe they need it? 

This scenario isn't uncommon. Many families grapple with the challenge of supporting a loved one experiencing psychosis, especially when that individual doesn't recognize the need for assistance. In this journey, understanding psychosis and its implications is paramount. Not just for the affected individual, but for the entire family unit. 

As experts in Individual and Family Counseling, we're here to share insights and guidance on how to approach and help your loved ones.

Understanding Psychosis

Psychosis is a complex mental health challenge. It alters how a person perceives the world, leading them to see, hear, or believe things that aren’t present. It's a jarring experience, not just for the individual but for everyone involved. Before diving into solutions, it's crucial to have a comprehensive understanding.

What is Psychosis?

Psychosis isn't merely a singular symptom or event; it's a syndrome with multiple manifestations. At its core, it involves disruptions in thoughts and perceptions. A person experiencing psychosis might hear voices that no one else can or hold beliefs with no basis in reality. These symptoms can be distressing and confusing, often leading to significant disruptions in daily life.

Common Misconceptions About Psychosis

There's no shortage of myths and misunderstandings when it comes to psychosis. Some assume it's a result of a 'broken' mind or even possession. Others believe it's a sign of a flawed character. Dispelling these myths is crucial. Educated understanding is the foundation to offering genuine help.

Recognizing The Signs

Early intervention can make a world of difference. But to intervene, one must first recognize the signs. Subtle changes in behavior, social withdrawal, or vividly expressing unreal experiences might be early indicators. It's pivotal to be observant, understanding, and proactive in these crucial moments.

Barriers To Seeking Help

Every individual's journey with psychosis is unique, and so are the challenges they and their families face. It's not uncommon for someone experiencing psychosis to resist seeking help. But why? To offer effective assistance, understanding these barriers is essential.

Denial and Fear

Denial isn't just a river in Egypt; it's a potent psychological mechanism. Many individuals with psychosis may not even realize or accept that they have a problem, making the process of seeking help complex. Fear, too, plays a significant role. The fear of being labeled, stigmatized, or even ostracized can be paralyzing, preventing the individual from acknowledging the need for assistance.

Misunderstanding the Situation

For families and friends, recognizing the severity of psychosis can sometimes be a challenge. There might be instances where they misinterpret the signs as mere "phases" or "odd behaviors." Downplaying the symptoms or attributing them to other causes might delay the crucial help that the individual needs.

Emotional Struggles

Watching a loved one go through psychosis is an emotional whirlwind. Feelings of guilt, sadness, confusion, or even anger are natural. These emotions, if not addressed, can form barriers in the path of seeking professional help. It's essential to acknowledge and process these feelings for the well-being of both the individual and their caregivers.

Strategies on How to Help Someone with Psychosis

Helping someone with psychosis, especially when they're resistant, can feel like navigating a maze without a map. However, with the right strategies, you can provide the support they desperately need, guiding them toward a path of healing.

Creating a Safe Environment

Trust is the cornerstone of any therapeutic relationship. Establishing a space where the individual feels safe, heard, and not judged is essential. It's not just about physical safety but emotional and psychological safety too. Encourage open conversations, practice active listening, and always prioritize their well-being.

Engaging in Effective Communication

Conversations with someone experiencing psychosis can sometimes be challenging. Yet, effective communication remains the key. Techniques like reflective listening, where you mirror back what the individual is saying, can be invaluable. It's essential to approach every conversation with patience, avoiding confrontations or any triggers.

Encouraging Professional Help

This might be the trickiest part. Encouraging someone who doesn't believe they need help to seek professional assistance can be a delicate task. Instead of being forceful or insistent, try sharing stories or examples of how Individual Counseling has transformed lives. Plant the seed of hope and allow it to grow at its own pace. Remember, every journey starts with a single step.

The Role of Family in the Healing Process

The family unit, often described as a person's first line of defense, plays a critical role in the journey of recovery from psychosis. Their involvement, understanding, and proactive participation can make a world of difference in the life of someone battling this condition.

Utilizing Family Counseling Services

Every member of a family feels the ripple effects of psychosis. It's not just about the person experiencing the symptoms but also about those who live with and care for them. Our Family Counseling services are designed to bring the family together, offering a platform for open discussion, mutual understanding, and collective healing. It's about equipping each family member with the tools and insights they need to be a pillar of support.

Being Consistent and Patient

Healing and recovery don't happen overnight. It's a journey, often marked by its ups and downs. Families must embrace patience and consistency. It's essential to understand that there might be good days and challenging days. However, with unwavering support, the path to recovery becomes more manageable.

Self-Care for Family Members

Often, in the midst of caring for someone with psychosis, family members might neglect their own well-being. However, to be a beacon of strength for your loved one, self-care is paramount. Engage in activities that rejuvenate you, seek support when you feel overwhelmed, and remember that it's okay to prioritize your mental health too.

When Professional Intervention is Crucial

Recognizing when to seek professional help can sometimes be the difference between life and death. While the journey might be marked with resistance or reluctance, there are moments when intervention becomes non-negotiable.

Recognizing Critical Moments

Certain signs and symptoms act as red flags, indicating the need for immediate professional intervention. This could range from intense hallucinations to expressions of self-harm or harm to others. Being vigilant and observant can help families recognize these crucial moments and take prompt action.

Seeking Immediate Help

When faced with a crisis, time is of the essence. It's not the moment for second-guessing or waiting. Families should be equipped with resources and contacts to seek immediate help. This could mean emergency services or reaching out to mental health professionals familiar with the individual's situation.

The Value of Individual Counseling Services

There's a transformative power in one-on-one counseling. Our specialized Individual Counseling services offer tailored approaches that address the unique challenges and needs of each individual. Through these sessions, individuals can gain insight, develop coping mechanisms, and chart their journey to healing with the guidance of an expert by their side.


Navigating the turbulent waters of psychosis, whether as an individual or as a family member, is no easy task. However, it's essential to remember that you're not alone on this journey. Understanding, patience, and the right professional guidance can make all the difference. 

Encounters with psychosis bring forth a myriad of emotions — from fear to hope, from despair to determination. It's okay to seek help, and it's okay to lean on experts when the path ahead seems uncertain. 

Our mission at Sharon Dunas, LMFT is to be that guiding light for you, offering both Individual and Family Counseling services tailored to your needs. 

Remember, every challenge presents an opportunity for growth and transformation. 

As you navigate this journey, we invite you to reach out and get in touch with us at (310) 207-3505 or [email protected]. Together, we can pave the path towards healing and recovery.

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