Why don’t therapists give advice? This is a good question and a common one. A common misconception is that therapists give advice. Therapists aren’t meant to give advice. That might be shocking. The role of a therapist is not a friend. Therapists typically don’t give advice because we cannot know the entirety of your situation. We can’t predict how others in your life will react to you and, therefore, our “advice” can potentially cause harm. Therapists are supportive, sometimes challenging, professionals that create an environment for growth and processing. Clients often come to therapists during difficult times. Therapists can guide clients in handling the difficult emotions that come with hard experiences, but the experience itself is still your own. Advice is typically given based on experience. Experiences are quite unique. For example, if you and your friend experience the same traumatic event, you’ll handle it differently. Differences in experiences and genetics shape the way that you respond to events. You and your friend have had different experiences and different genetics and will likely respond to a similar traumatic event differently. It’s important to recognize that advice comes from experience and having different experiences from your therapist does not hinder therapy from being effective. If you’re wondering how a therapist can counsel you when they haven’t shared your experience, it’s likely that you’re expecting advice from a therapist.
Another important piece of information that does not require advice is that therapists hear things differently than non-therapists. For example, you may be upset about other people not following rules, but a therapist may hear a fear of lack of control. You may be mentioning things that you don’t like about your partner, but a therapist may hear your fear of commitment. A therapist’s personal experiences, or lack thereof, won’t hinder them from hearing patterns, challenging you, and discussing your experience. It won’t stop them from being empathetic in difficult times.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re thinking about therapy.