How to Support a Loved One in Cognitive Therapy

Going through cognitive therapy can be difficult and frustrating for patients, but it can be incredibly rewarding. Supporting a loved one in cognitive therapy can be very helpful in their recovery. Studies have shown that family support may help patients recover faster and more effectively. 

Here are some ways to support a loved one going through cognitive therapy.

offering support cognitive therapy

Take care of yourself

Of course, the reasons why someone does cognitive therapy can vary widely. If the patient is going through a severe condition and life change, it can be scary for them and their loved ones. Even if you’re dealing with stress and fear, you’ll be the most helpful to your loved one if you take good care of yourself as much as possible. Get plenty of rest, and stay hydrated and fed. Try to complete self-care practices that help you feel refreshed. This could be anything from exercising to taking naps to reading or watching tv. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so take time to recharge when you can.

Involve your loved one

Keep your loved one involved in interactions with family and friends. Even if they can’t speak or understand as much as other family members, you can involve your loved one in conversation as much as possible. Not only can this help to exercise cognitive skills, but it can help them feel connected and may keep them in high spirits.

Help with home workouts

If your loved one is working on cognitive exercises with a clinician, they may be asked to complete cognitive exercises at home as well. This helps to continuously exercise the necessary cognitive skills and may lead to faster improvement. You can help by reminding your loved one when they should work on their home exercises and setting up a computer or tablet for them to work on. You can also offer encouragement when they have completed their exercises, helping them look forward to continuing recovery. This can sound like, “You did an awesome job on that exercise,” or “Don’t worry about it! As you keep getting better, this will get easier.”

Speak with clinicians

Don’t be afraid to ask the clinicians questions. If you have any concerns or questions about cognitive therapy and your loved one’s progress, the clinicians working with them can help to clarify. There isn’t always a clear-cut answer about how much or how quickly the patient will heal. The process takes time, and everyone’s brain and situation are different. However, speaking with the clinician can empower you with knowledge and confidence in the cognitive therapy process.

Clinicians may ask for your help in the patient’s recovery as well. For example, if a patient is hospitalized and in an early stage of recovery from a brain injury, the clinician may ask family members to bring in familiar items or speak to the patient to stimulate their memory. 

Check in with your loved one

If your loved one is healing and can discuss treatment, ask how their treatment is going. Asking questions occasionally can let them know that you care without overwhelming them. You could ask, “How are you feeling about therapy?” or “What’s been the hardest part about treatment?” And really listen to their response. Showing your loved one that you care and are there for them can help them feel supported during the cognitive therapy process.

Seek support if needed

While your loved one needs support, you might need support too! Asking friends for help with child care, pet care, grocery shopping, or housework while you attend to your loved one can be a huge help.

It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed while a loved one is experiencing a life change due to a TBI, stroke, or other condition that has affected their cognition. If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious, seeking counseling may help you process those emotions and begin to feel better.


There are many ways to support a loved one in cognitive therapy. The best ways to do this depend on the individual’s situation, but regardless of the methods, offering support is a wonderful and loving thing to do. The support of family and friends can make all the difference during recovery. However, it can also be a very difficult and emotional process for both the patient and caregivers. Utilizing the tips in this article can help you support your loved one while also caring for yourself.

Aly Castle

Aly is HappyNeuron Pro’s Content Specialist. She is passionate about mental health and well-being and loves utilizing her design background to share important cognitive information clearly and understandably.

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