Many people who engage in therapy will often ask for advice on managing anxiety, their relationship situation, what to do about a tricky work situation or even just general life advice. However, what a lot of clients are really asking for is reassurance on their decision.
For many clients who come to us looking for advice to stop a certain behaviour or habit, we may ask ‘why don’t you?’. A common answer is that they don’t know. The truth is that the reason they don’t stop is that another part of them doesn’t want them to as it is serving some sort of purpose. In a lot of cases, this could lead to compulsively doing things that the client knows are hurting themselves or others.
It is for this reason advice on stopping a behaviour rarely works, as the addiction or compulsion is often a solution to another, sometimes, unconscious problem.
Why We Tend Not to Offer Advice
It’s not that we don’t know what the right thing to do is. If someone asks for tips on how to manage their anxiety, we may advise them to search the internet where they can find general tips like eating well, having a regular sleep schedule, exercising and practising yoga.
But for many, the struggle isn’t knowing what the healthy thing to do is, it’s doing it. And this is where we are conflicted.
As therapists, it is not our role to tell you what to do. It’s our job to present our clients with a better understanding of what motivates them to act or think a certain way. We give our clients the tools to make their own decisions.
How We Help You Without Giving Advice
Many clients come to us looking for a quick fix to their problems, and hope we give them the perfect solution. Unfortunately, this is never the case. Together, we work to explore choices.
Our psychotherapists work tactfully to not push our clients beyond where they are ready to go. However, it’s important to realise that destructive behaviour is always the result of past hurts, and unless worked through, we will find ourselves at a stalemate.
The difficulty in stopping a certain behaviour or habit lies mostly in beginning therapy. A client and therapist need to work together to determine the issue and create a strategy to work on them through a contract of works.
It’s important as a client to understand that we can’t give you the advice you want, but we will work with you to understand why you’re facing the issue in question. With patience and confidence, we can help you see your options and guide you to choose the best for you.
Brighton and Hove Psychotherapy is a collective of experienced psychotherapists, psychologists and counsellors working with a range of client groups, including fellow therapists and health professionals. If you would like more information, or an informal discussion please get in touch. We also have online therapy available.