So often clients come in to therapy looking for “advice”.
More times than I can count I have been sitting across the room from a client who is troubled and confused and had them state, “just tell me what to do” or “just give me some advice”. Hmmm, this is a sticky situation because while I am thrilled that this client has come seeking change, I also don’t want them to adopt the belief or expectation that this is all there is to it, just come in, ask for advice, go away and everything will be better.
Therapy is about sitting still enough for you to tap into your own thoughts and beliefs about something and then have the therapist support you in whatever machinations are involved with facing or editing or managing that insight. We don’t sit across from people and tell them what to. Sometimes we do tell them what they are already doing and wonder how that’s working for them, but we don’t tell anyone what to do.
It’s so much more important for any individual to come to the conclusion or insight themselves and then access the belief or perspective or tools to do something different of their own accord and not because “the therapist told me to”. Because then the process is theirs and no matter how it evolves, it was their choice. If it were just us telling them what to do, how is that any different than other relationships in their lives?
In my experience, when people are told what to do they often rebel. Now, in some cases that may be an effective therapeutic intervention but I don’t believe we ever tell anyone what to do. We suggest. We wonder. We highlight options and possibilities. We clarify. We challenge and encourage and support. We do not give advice. Let’s save that for the syndicated columns.
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