4
$\begingroup$

I’ve taken a course on counselling psychology and have attended a counselling sessions myself. All the literature I’ve read has said counsellors should not give advice. My question is why is this possible?

I know when talking to a counsellor they think they’re being self-empowering by not “giving advice” or asking leading questions, but I don’t believe it’s possible to have a neutral conversation with someone where they have no effect over you. In a sense, is the way councillors/psychologists speaking to people actually underhanded as they try to dress-up advice as non-advice? I know at advance stages of counselling the counsellor is supposed to challenge the client’s incongruent views. Which views the councillor challenges are up to him, so that’s exerting change on the client. Wouldn't it be better for a councillor to clearly say what he thinks instead of trying to trick a client into thinking they came up with the idea? For example if a counsellor says “you’ve listed many bad qualities about your girlfriend” while this may be a fact, the councillor is trying to steer you in a certain direction. Wouldn’t it be more honest to say “you’ve listed many bad qualities about your girlfriend, maybe you should breakup with her?” even though the breaking up bit is considered advice?

UPDATE: I think I've finally found the words to express what I'm thinking. I know councilors are not supposed to give advice and act in a very "neutral way" as to allow the client to sort things out for them self, as this is seen as self empowering. It's been my observation that councilors (inadvertently) just find ways to mask what they are asserting as a question or a seemingly neutral statement. For example, client "my neighbor was parked in my drive way and it made me late for work", councilor "I could see how that would make a person mad" (this implies the correct response would be mad). client: "my date cancelled on me", councilor "do you feel let down?" (this is planting the idea in his head). Now wouldn't it be better if the councilor gave advice like "there are plenty of fish in the sea". I know councilors are not trained to ask leading questions or make leading comments, but as humans, I believe it is inevitable to do this, and it's much better just to say something directly than to (subconsciously) think up a way to hint at it.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This question seems primarily opinion-based to me, and as such is off topic here. $\endgroup$ – Krysta Apr 29 '15 at 14:16
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ However, I think it would be on topic to ask about the techniques that councillors use to avoid "giving advice" and "leading the client". $\endgroup$ – Seanny123 Apr 29 '15 at 19:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Seanny123 that's sort of my point, do such techniques exist that 100% don't lead or give advice? It's sort of like inception, if a councillor asks "do you think about suicide?" just asking the question brings up the idea. $\endgroup$ – Celeritas Apr 29 '15 at 20:14
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ No one is going to argue for the absolute here. That's why I think it would be best (more interesting and productive) to assume that there's no way to successfully 100% not lead/advise the patient/client, but instead asking about techniques or heuristics used to minimize this "leading" or "advising". $\endgroup$ – Seanny123 Apr 30 '15 at 0:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ how can a counsellor avoid giving advice to a client $\endgroup$ – user8378 May 18 '15 at 0:54
3
$\begingroup$

Counselors can be taught to "not give advice" and there are good reasons for this school of thought. But in professional practice such passivity is only one style among many counselors may choose. If you find yourself unhappy with your counselor's style, do both of you a favor and keep looking for greater compatibility. Better results will follow from greater comfort in sessions. The burden of finding the best match is on the client - the counselor will try to help the client as well as possible with the style the counselor believes is best for the client, but if you don't like such passivity, look for another counselor and say what you want during the first meeting (on the phone, even better.)

As to "why" some counselors believe it is helpful to not give advice: much work in psychotherapy requires the client to make every step, every decision following the client's own insight; this is a process of internal awareness and growth which places the counselor in the role of facilitator. A facilitator will make it easier for the client to make progress, but will not tell the client answers even if the counselor has opinions or preferences. As you put it, the goal is for the client to become more "self-empowering."

I hope this helps. I have a Counseling M.A. and years' practice in a variety of healing arts. , , ,

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Are the different "styles" of counselors labelled differently? Like, do they advertise their style somehow that would make finding the one you seek easier? $\endgroup$ – randomblink Apr 30 '15 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, randomblink. Different styles are normally referred to on business cards and ads. Some phrases are too mysterious for my taste, for example, what does "Client Centered Therapy" mean? That's why I recommend calling several therapists and going with the one who makes the most sense to you and promises to treat you the way you want to be treated, conversationally speaking in particular. Watch for the "Freudian" label, they are everywhere and will not hold a normal conversation, they spend most sessions being quiet, letting you talk: that is not okay with everyone.... $\endgroup$ – Neil Alers May 7 '15 at 21:14
0
$\begingroup$

Asking “you’ve listed many bad qualities about your girlfriend, maybe you should breakup with her?” in many cases asking that question is going to cause the other person to defend the decision to be with their girlfriend.

There are cases where it can be useful to put the client in a defensive position but often it isn't. Often the role of a counselor is to provide the client space to look at uncomfortable issues without feeling judged or feeling like he has to defend himself.

$\endgroup$
-1
$\begingroup$

I am a counselllor and use many different therapies and techniques with clients. Different therapies offer different ways to work with a client. CBT is more of a teaching therapy teaching the clients strategies and coping skills to help them with solving their issues. Psychoanalysis as mentioned in an above comment as Freudian is one of the foundations of psychology and works with the belief that all disorder stems from the childhood. This is because this is when we learn the most and learn how to react and behave in certain situations. It is a very good way to work on issues stemming from childhood. Erikson's theory expanded on Freud's theory and included other stages we go through to become fulfilled as human beings.

As for the reason we don't give advice is not because we don't want to or we like to avoid it, it is merely a legal; one, we are not legally or ethically covered to give advice and if we did and it went wrong we would get sued. It is ok to ask the opinion of the counsellor however that is not important what is important is why does the client need to hear it from someone else and have trouble knowing what to do. This can also be stemed from a childhood issue where they don't have good enough boundaries and rely on the thoughts of others to make decisions for them so when it goes wrong they have someone else to blame other than themselves. Also it could be that they constantly need other peoples approval another issue stemming from childhood which caused them to not be strong enough in themselves to make sound decisions.

Good psychologists and counsellors are aware of a lot more than just issues and what should you do about it, we are trained in problem solving and helping people to become autonomous. The saying "you can give a man a fish and feed him for a day or teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime" applies here. Counsellors teach their clients about themselves and help them understand why they are like they are and then help them learn new ways to solve their problems. So they don't always need to be asking others what they should do. Be strong make a decision, learn from mistakes, readjust your goals and keep moving forward toward success. There is no need for approval, blame or asking of opinions. Sorry it is a long one but legally that is how it is.

$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ A reference to the segment of the law forbidding from giving advice would be appreciated. $\endgroup$ – Seanny123 Dec 29 '15 at 17:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.