Is Advice Really That Different from Counseling?
A caterpillar released from its cocoon of darkness too soon may not survive. Friends and family may advise sparing the person from their dark situation. Unfortunately, they could also end up sparing the person from learning the coping tools or strategies to minimize the occurrence of the problem. Advice is different from counseling. An individual can call up radio shows for advice or call their parents for advice. Maybe the individual needs additional coping skills to help get through the heart-wrenching breakup that friends are tired of hearing about. Maybe there is a need for enhancing critical skills on a work-related problem because if not the individual is close to having a disappearing act at work resulting in an individual quitting or getting fired. A trained clinician can help with target questions and methods best to apply to tough questions in life. Helping people to tailor to how to best respond and readily apply it in their own life. Not denying that advice is helpful. Sharing advice can offer a sense of connection to a community but, counseling allows for the individual to come to the ‘advice’ so to speak on their agenda, from their perspective instead of the perspective from the person offering the advice. This will also make the ability to change more permanent.
A person needs to come to this conclusion on their own because therapy is a place where a person can navigate through the heavy feels of emotions and learn more about their connections to their emotions. It will be uncovered with a trained professional how he or she creates their own “life” traps, and what are the ways they repeat them? Therapy will help an individual understand their inner world and how that impacts their relationships. Mental health professionals spend years and continued hours learning the fundamental language, various methods and modes of delivery to best format a life plan specific for the individual’s needs. Therapists can help narrate in a clearer light the insight of a person’s story.
This often takes time and reflection and does not come as a quick fix, despite how much a client and therapist would like. Most of the time it took a while for the individual to get into a tough situation so it will take a while to get out of the tough situation, to see patterns, or see alternatives. The same can be said for interpersonal relationships, for example, just saying “I’m done,” or “you should dump him/her” provides a loose plan at best but not how to handle the feelings that come along with the plan. It doesn’t tell the individual how to manage the symptoms or even what symptoms to look out for. To provide a further example, in the most extreme cases if someone is actively suicidal, the therapist may discuss a safety plan and list people to call and things to do when they are in such a state. Less extreme they would develop a plan for breathing or relaxation exercises, but these are specific treatment approaches to specific problems. Anyone can offer their experience or make the time to listen but only a licensed therapist can help the individual be enlightened and be the clear author to their story so that the long-lasting, empowering, change can happen.
*To learn more check out Daily Living Counseling blog: 5 Life Traps to Avoid