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Encouraging Help: Tips for Getting a Loved One to Seek Treatment

Couple sitting on couch at home not talking looking like having a problem

When a loved one is battling an intimacy disorder, like a sex addiction, it’s only natural to want to encourage them to get the help they need. But getting your loved one to seek treatment often isn’t as easy as recognizing they need it.

Following a few simple steps can help you get your loved one to recognize their own need for treatment, start the process, and enroll in a program that can help them recover. 

Contact Begin Again Institute for professional guidance and support if you need additional support.

Recognizing the Need for Treatment

The first step in the process of getting a loved one to seek treatment is recognizing the signs and symptoms of an intimacy disorder. 

Intimacy disorders is a broad category that includes challenges such as:

Each disorder has a unique set of signs and symptoms. However, a few common threads tie them together and may indicate when treatment is needed.

The first is impairment. Actions that some people consider “normal” become dysfunctional when they begin to interfere with a person’s ability to live as they see fit. They may have trouble achieving their goals or maintaining healthy social relationships.

In other words, would life be better without the problem behavior? Does it hold them back from achieving a greater quality of life?

The next is an inability to stop independently. When people deal with challenges such as sex or pornography addiction, they can have multiple failed attempts to cut down or stop these behaviors. But despite these challenges, most people can achieve recovery provided they seek professional treatment.

Finally, the last hallmark of intimacy disorders is a progression of the behavior over time. Symptoms of intimacy disorders tend to get worse rather than better without the help of professionals.

Not sure if something is wrong in your relationship? Download our “What Am I Missing” checklist to see if an intimacy disorder may be a concern.

Why People Avoid Treatment

For an outside observer, the path to recovery seems clear. The person should admit they have a problem, get treatment from mental health professionals, and learn the tools to live a better life.

But there are hurdles on the path to recovery, including a tendency to avoid treatment. Each person faces different barriers, but some of the most common reasons people are resistant to treatment include:

  • Feelings of guilt or shame about their behavior
  • Refusing to admit that their behavior has become problematic
  • Feeling like they’re only harming themselves
  • Social and cultural stigma against intimacy disorders or help-seeking

Any one of these reasons, or countless others, may contribute to a refusal to seek treatment on their own.

While it may be difficult to break through, there are ways you can help your loved one recognize that they need help. You can gently convince them to start the path to a lasting and rewarding recovery.

Offering Support and Encouragement

You can support your loved one in many ways and encourage them to begin to heal. Some of the best types of support you can offer include the following.


Understanding how intimacy disorders affect people can go a long way toward showing your love and support. Learning about your loved one’s disorder shows that you care and can help you show compassion for their struggle. It can also help you understand and guide them to the treatments that work best.

Emotional Support

Living with an intimacy disorder can be extremely difficult. Show true compassion and empathy for your loved one’s position. When you help them through difficult times, you offer a vital source of support that can help them take the next steps to treatment.

Instrumental Support

Instrumental support refers to helping your loved one with the nuts and bolts of recovery. That may be finding a treatment center, taking them to an appointment, or assuming other tasks so they have the opportunity to seek help.

Recognize that many people facing these types of disorders feel overwhelmed by the prospect of seeking recovery. By taking on these steps yourself, you make it that much easier for them to seek treatment.


Ultimately, choosing to invest in treatment is a personal decision. You can’t force your loved one to get help. The choice is theirs. Provide encouragement and support, show that you’ll help them in the recovery process, and don’t pile on any further shame or guilt. You can empower them to make the best decision.

Want to learn more about communicating about treatment and how to support your partner and yourself? Download our Partner Support Guide

Seeking Professional Help

Most people with intimacy disorders need the help of trained mental health professionals to recover. Trained clinicians can offer treatments to help your loved one achieve success, including options such as:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Brainspotting

Each technique takes a different approach, but they can all provide tools such as healthy coping mechanisms, alternative rewards, teaching emotional regulation skills, and improved communication between loved ones.

At Begin Again Institute, our intimacy disorder treatment programs offer unique pathways to help your loved one get the treatment they need. This includes:

This is in addition to our Partner Support Program and 5-Day Partner Intensives. By offering a comprehensive suite of options, we provide levels of care for clients with a diverse range of needs. We’ll ensure that you and your loved one have everything you need to succeed in your treatment goals.

Overcoming Barriers to Treatment

The barriers to treatment can seem overwhelming, but you can help in the process of working through them. While it begins with helping your loved one decide to seek treatment, barriers to care can be present throughout the treatment process.

Emphasize the support and encouragement techniques laid out above. Help them overcome transportation and logistical challenges. Face the cultural and social stigmas head on by assuring them that seeking help is the best way to resolve their feelings of guilt or shame.

Setting Boundaries

While encouragement and support can be pivotally important to helping your loved one, everyone has a personal limit. Don’t overextend yourself trying to help a loved one who isn’t receptive or wear yourself down in the path to helping them.

Your mental health, quality of life, and sense of well-being are important, too. You can provide better support when you’re in a good place yourself. As the old adage goes, “Affix your own mask before helping others.”

Part of setting boundaries is learning when to set healthy boundaries and limits with your loved ones. Decide what you are willing to do and what you aren’t. Focus on the things you think are helping your loved one move in the right direction, but don’t extend past your personal limits.

Ed Tilton, President of Begin Again Institute, said there’s no word or phrase you can say to get someone to seek treatment. Instead, you create a “challenge by choice opportunity.”

What that means is saying, “I’ve seen something in our relationship that I’m going to challenge. And the choice that I’m making is to do some of my own work. And I want you to do that work with me. But at the end of the day, that’s your choice to make,” Ed said.

“If there was a magic word or phrase that could unlock that opportunity and make somebody choose treatment, they’d lose their autonomy, and resentment would grow quickly,” he pointed out. “They would use phrases like ‘you made me’ or ‘you forced me.’”

The “challenge by choice” opportunity allows both parties to choose the best versions of themselves because the result will be a better relationship than you could ever have dreamed of, Ed said.

Seek Treatment at Begin Again Institute

Helping your loved one recognize the need for help and take the steps to seek treatment isn’t easy. Start to learn more about their intimacy difficulties and why they may be avoiding treatment. Offer support and encouragement to them. When they find the help they need, then they can start to feel empowered that recovery is possible and available to them.

At Begin Again Institute, we strive to make the recovery process as simple and effective as possible. Our dedicated intimacy disorder treatment programs can help you and your loved one finally start the path to healing. We want to restore the quality of life you both deserve. To learn more, contact us today.

  • Category: Recovery
  • By Begin Again Institute
  • April 26, 2024

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