Why Don’t Therapists Give Advice?
We have all seen the memes of counselors, quietly sitting in their counseling chair patiently nodding our heads when the client divulges vulnerable information.
Or worse yet, the dreaded question, “how does that make you feel?”
I get it. I have been in your seat. I am a therapist who has seen therapists. We’re all different.
- I have sat with a therapist who kept saying “ooo weee,” which did not make me feel particularly encouraged.
- I have sat with a therapist that simply reflects what I say.
- I have sat with a therapist who takes what I have said and challenges my thinking.
Therapy comes in all shapes and sizes. What has not worked for me has worked for others. I will never profess that there is one right way to do therapy.
What I will profess is that therapists do not give advice.
But I Came Here for Answers
Yes, I get it. You want answers. I do too. Like, why do microwaves heat things but not cool things?
But more seriously, I want someone to tell me what I need to do to fix me. This is normal human want. After all, what you have been doing up until now is clearly not working. Didn’t you seek a professional to guide you?
Guiding vs. Advising
Here’s the good news. You came to the right place.
As mental health clinicians, we are trained in nuances.
- The inner workings of the brain that lead to emotional discord
- Historical messaging that may be inhibiting to future success
- The complex stories that we tell ourselves that support the rules that we have created about how we should live our lives.
All of these things help us to help you discover your own voice, your own inspiration, your own inner peace.
Therapists are human too. With that in mind, we understand that our advice to you may be biased by our own historical messages and reasoning.
We want more for you. We want you to make decisions based on your values and goals. Decisions that will empower you.
The Therapist as an Advisor
Advice is too easy. Anyone can give advice. We all have opinions.
Your therapist is not an expert in you. YOU are an expert in you.
If your therapist were to just give you advice, you would not learn how to navigate your world free of all of the thoughts and feelings that keep you stuck, and lead you to therapy in the first place.
The therapist is there to help you to discover your best you. Think of it like your favorite flavor of ice cream.
Would you ever be able to discover that mint chocolate chip is your favorite if all the advice you were ever given was to eat moose tracks?
The Therapist as a Guide
The goal of the therapist is that you don’t need us anymore.
We want you to feel so empowered that you leave a more self-aware, empowered person than you were when you came.
In order to empower you, we guide you.
- Guide you to understanding triggers
- Guide you to understanding patterns of behavior
- Guide you to understanding yourself
We want you to have those “ah ha” moments. The ones that make you feel alive, aware, reflective and empowered.
None of those moments can happen with authenticity if we spoon-feed you what you should or should not do.
It would be a disservice to you if your therapist to gave you advice on how to live your life, because your life is not your therapist’s to live.
What to Expect from Therapy
The short answer is that you get out of therapy what you put into it.
I always tell me clients that the therapy happens between sessions. I give you the tools to put into practice, but you have to do them.
I believe that everybody has purpose, potential and resilience. Sometimes you can feel beat down. I mean, let’s be honest, life has been brutal to all of us lately. But my job is to help lift you up.
You have a story. A powerful story. The therapist’s job is to help you to tell it.