Therapy is not magic nor is it a process where a therapist is able to “fix you”. Sometimes I joke with clients that if I had a magic wand under my chair (or on my desk in time of teletherapy), I could shake it and everything would be better. No doubt that would make the therapy go faster, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case. But it is true that many come to therapy with preconceived notions of what the process entails and one of the most common fantasies is that their therapist will give them advice.
“Just tell me what to do!”
That’s not to say there aren’t therapists who give advice regularly like I think there are. But those who see themselves as a guide to the growth and personal empowerment of their customers, will refrain. There are many good reasons why your therapist will probably not give you advice.
Your therapist is not you.
No matter how much your therapist delves into the complexities, characters, and emotional waves of your life, they are not in that life. Share a sacred space together to do your job, but he or she doesn’t follow in the footsteps of your day-to-day life.
Your therapist is no wiser than you.
Another common misconception is that therapists have perfect, error-free lives and surely need to be wiser. This is not true. Therapists are also human and may have similar challenges. Keep in mind that it can also be much easier to guide someone else than to see your own forest. Yes, therapists train to practice their professions and probably know more than you do about the dynamics of relationships, depression, anxiety, trauma, and the impact of family problems of origin, but they are not inherently wiser. You are also wise, but you may need help to harness your own inner wisdom.
Your therapist is probably trying to empower you.
Whatever obstacles have prevented you from creating the positive change you are looking for, you are in therapy to identify and understand your blogs and move toward resolving them. The most powerful work happens when you know all these markers, your sense of self-reinforcement along the way. This path to personal empowerment cannot pass if the therapist gives you all the “answers” or tells you what to do.
Giving advice is not therapy.
The work of psychotherapy involves training around the complexities of human behavior, the need for emotional security, brain science, and the many therapeutic modalities that therapists use in their toolbox. Some are true to a paradigm and others more eclectic. The bottom line is that it is a journey between the therapist and the client where trust is established for the deeper work to begin. It is not intended to be just a band, but ideally triggers changes for a lifetime.
If you are in therapy or are considering it and expect to receive advice, that’s fine. You are not the only one. When they ask me for advice, I always remind them of the importance of reaching their own conclusions. But of course I hope to help guide them to this place. Therapists have a unique perspective on their close knowledge of their clients without the emotional hindrances of being literally in their lives. They are trained to see, they seek to understand your whole image with curiosity, leading you gently to your own conclusions.
If you are anywhere in California, learn more about my online therapy and counseling practice in California. If you are outside of California, I also offer one-off consultations for specific topics that are psychoeducational and are not considered psychotherapy.
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