Will my counsellor give me advice?
This will depend on the type of counselling you engage with, however, counsellors typically approach their role as facilitators of self-discovery and personal growth rather than giving direct advice or guidance.
The therapeutic process is typically focused on helping you explore your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, thereby gaining insight into your challenges, and helping you develop coping strategies. Therapists may offer some degree of guidance, support, and different perspectives, but the goal is usually to empower you to make your own decisions.
The reason for this approach is rooted in the belief that individuals have the capacity to understand themselves and their situations, and that self-discovery and self-efficacy are crucial for long-term well-being. While therapists may share their expertise and knowledge, the emphasis is on helping you tap into your own resources and resilience.
Why counsellors may avoid giving direct advice
There is a range of reasons why counsellors may avoid offering explicit advice, including the following.
Empowerment and autonomy
The therapeutic process is often designed to empower individuals and promote their autonomy. Instead of giving direct advice, counsellors aim to help clients explore their thoughts, feelings, and options, enabling them to make informed decisions on their own.
Many counsellors adhere to a client-centred approach, which emphasises the client as the expert on their own experiences. This approach focuses on creating a non-judgmental and supportive environment in which clients can explore their concerns and find their own solutions.
Counselling often involves fostering self-awareness and self-reflection. By refraining from giving direct advice, counsellors encourage clients to delve deeper into their own thoughts, emotions, and experiences, fostering a greater understanding of themselves.
While advice might provide a short-term solution, the long-term goal of therapy is often to equip individuals with the skills and insights needed to navigate future challenges independently. This approach can lead to more sustainable personal growth.
Direct advice might inadvertently create a dependency on the counsellor. By encouraging clients to explore and make decisions for themselves, counsellors aim to help build resilience and coping skills which are longer-lasting and more deeply rooted.
Advice can be subjective and may not align with a client's unique values, cultural background, or personal preferences. Counsellors aim to respect and consider these individual differences, allowing clients to shape their own paths.
Types of approaches
It's important to note that counselling approaches can vary, and some therapists or counsellors may incorporate advice-giving in certain situations, or on occasion use a more directive approach. More directive approaches would include:
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)
While CBT primarily focuses on helping individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours, it can involve some directive elements. Therapists may provide specific strategies, homework assignments, and coping skills for clients to implement in their daily lives. These strategies, assignments and skills are developed through the course of therapeutic consultations and are personal to the client.
Some therapists, regardless of their theoretical orientation, may adopt a more directive stance when they believe it is in the best interest of the client. This might involve offering specific advice or solutions to address immediate concerns. This can happen, for example, when the therapist believes the client is at risk of harm.
If you have specific concerns about your counsellor's approach or want to discuss whether advice is appropriate in your situation, it's important to communicate openly with your counsellor. Different therapeutic modalities and counsellors may vary in their styles, so discussing expectations and preferences can contribute to a more effective therapeutic relationship.