People often call me, requesting an appointment so that I can give them advice on what to do or how to handle their current personal/relationship problems. If you’ve ever spoken to a professionally trained counsellor you’ll probably get the same answer i.e., counsellors do not give advice but rather help people figure out more effective ways to solve their problems. But what does that really mean.
The purpose of the document to further clarify the role of counselling and distinguish it from advice giving so you can better understand how it can help you.
So what is advice? The definition is advice
n advice [əd’vais]
suggestions to a person about what he should do You must seek legal advice if you want a divorce; Let me give you a piece of advice.
v advise [əd’vaiz]
1 to give advice to; to recommend My lawyer advises me to buy the house.
2 (withof) to inform This letter is to advise you of our interest in your proposal.
People who give advice may or may not have any qualifications or knowledge on what they are giving advice or opinions on. Some places we get advice from—friends, family, spouse, a lawyer, an accountant and even doctors will give you advice based on their area of expertise. Then it’s up to you to take that advice and accept it, reject or mull it over.
Typically relationship advice or mental health advice (whether we have asked for it or not) generally depends upon the perspective and capabilities of the person giving it. Most people do not have the proper training in mental health or relationships to really understand the mechanism of your problems and therefore are likely to give you, at best ineffective advice, or at worst, harmful advice.
The person telling you what to do, think or say is only telling you based on what has worked for them if they’ve been in a similar situation or what they think might work in general. Often they may never even have tried out their own advice! This is why whenever you are getting advice, your typical response is usually “Yes, but …” “Yes, but I can’t do that because XYZ” or “Yes but that won’t work because …” So in other words, rarely is advice helpful to you because it coming from the skills, capabilities and realities of another person.
Counselling, on the other hand, believes that the client actually has the solution within him/herself. Often the client may be asking him/herself the wrong question or they need to look at the issue in a different way. Sometimes clients need additional skills that they are lacking around anxiety, stress, depression or relationships. A therapist will help a client evaluate what is effective and what isn’t. From there, the client and therapist will determine the optimal solution for the client based on the e client’s entire life situation. If the client lacks some specific skills to solve their problem, the therapist can then supplement the client’s current skill level through specific training and education.
Counselling is really about evaluating a client’s wants and then evaluating what the client is trying to do to get what they want and if its effective. If it isn’t effective, the therapist will work with the client to become more effective so the client can get what they want.
How Our Counsellor Helps You?
U.S.A. trained Counsellors with their Master’s of science degree have training in human development, child development, psychopathology, assessment and diagnosis. They have additional training in relationships and other theories of human behavior. Our counsellor provides people with new skills and tools to handle their problems. Our therapist’s goal is your goal and she’ll work with you to evaluate whether what you are doing is going to get you what you think you want.
Risks of Seeking Relationship and Mental Health Advice
When we seek advice on matters related to our relationships, anxiety or other mental health capabilities from friends and family, the reality is that most people have not received any formal training in mental health, human behaviour or brain sciences. Therefore, while well intentioned, friends or family may be giving you what they heard somewhere else. A lot of people struggle to manage their own relationships and mental health so it’s quite risky to take advice from untrained people on issues of mental health and relationships. Implementing harmful relationship advice risks pushing a fragile relationship over the edge and into serious peril that the relationship may not be able to recover from.
A problem with mental health advice is that it cannot help you process and understand what thoughts and behaviors are driving your emotions and what you should with them to make a better decision. For many people, their feelings overwhelm them. If a person makes decisions based in feelings this can get them into trouble. Friends and families are not in a good position to advice you on what to do as well as they are often reacting from feeling. Often people seek advice on emotional charged issues like infidelity, money and parenting and bad advice runs the risk of destroying relationships that otherwise could be repaired with the right skills and tools.
Another issue with receiving advice is that the person suggesting options to you will not have to live with the consequences of what they are telling you. Advice giving shifts responsibility of behavior and choices to the person giving it and the person taking the advice will be happy if it happens to work out but often becomes very unhappy and possibly blaming to the advice giver.
Giving advice is risky!
That’s why counsellors do not do it. Giving advice assumes a certain level of responsibility or expertise about the recipient’s life that may not be accurate. When a person gives advice they are not able to assess your capability to pull off what they are suggesting. Also they may not be able to predict the multiple negative outcomes that could come from what they suggest because they are not an expert on your life, circumstances and the contingencies tied their recommendation.
So how does counselling differ from advice? Through counselling we teach people how to understand their emotions and separate them from thinking and their choices. Our counsellors teach people more effective skills to be able to communicate better and get along better with the important people in their life. We teach people better tools so that people can build their own state of happiness and manage stress, anxiety and depression. We don’t tell people what to do but rather we give them tools so they can figure out what is right and do it for themselves.
Examples of Advice vs. Counselling
Advice: “Ah just stopping worrying about it and focus on something else.”
Counselling: A counsellor will teach you actually how to do this!
Advice: Ah you should just do to him what he did to you to teach him a lesson and get him to treat you better.
Counselling: A Counsellor will help you understand how your behaviors and choices may be received by your partner and teach you more effective ways to get your needs met in a relationship.
Advice: You two need to stop arguing and just get along with each other!
Counselling: Our therapist will teach you and your partner how to manage conflict so that both of you can get what you want.
Advice: Stop being so immature and just grow up and get on with it!
Counselling: A counsellor will teach you how to do this and equip you with more effective skills to do that on your own.
Advice: You are so depressing to be around, why don’t you just snap out of it and focus on what you’ve got.
Counselling: A counsellor will equip you with more effective so you learn how to snap out if it and actually do it on your own!
If you want to learn more about how counselling for you or your relationship can help please contact us at 9030 7239 today.