yes, therapy helps!
Why psychologists do not give advice

Why psychologists do not give advice

May 22, 2024

People who have graduated in psychology or work as psychologists know well that, in addition to asking for free consultation, there is another custom that leads many people to make a basic mistake when they hear that a friend or relative is a psychologist: ask for advice about life .

Of course, asking and giving advice is not a bad thing in itself. In fact, people who are psychologists can give advice quietly, and can even divulge advice in the media, but making it clear that this is not the activity that defines their profession. That means, in the context in which a psychologist talks about his work, he does not give advice ; in other situations, yes.


Assuming that the profession of psychologists consists in giving advice leads some people to ask for their help by posing a problem and finishing off the topic with a "what should I do?". But, although it may seem strange because of the myths that circulate about the profession, psychologists do not give advice. Next I will explain why.

Psychologists: dealing with individual or collective problems

People with a background in psychology know things about the behavior and mental processes that predispose them to know better how to deal with certain situations in a useful and effective way, yes. But that does not mean they can give advice to someone "on the go".

Actually, it is not even true that all psychologists are dedicated to dealing with the vital problems of specific people . This is done only by those who engage in psychotherapy and clinical intervention; There are also many other branches of psychology in which, either work for organizations and not for isolated people (organizational psychology or Human Resources), or is investigated from data on many people, as occurs in the psychological research and cognitive science.


In both cases, psychologists do not intervene in cases of individual psychological problems, so asking for advice does not make much sense. But neither does it have it when the person does psychotherapy and mental health . Why?

Magical solutions to universal problems

As we have seen, many psychologists do not direct their work to deal with collective problems, or with problems demarcated by legal entities, not people. However, those who intervene in individual cases do not give advice either, for three basic reasons.

The need to attend a consultation

If you want individual attention, you have to buy all the pack of individualized attention, not only the appearance of this.

That is to say, you have to attend a consultation , a context in which, despite having that name, the client will not ask questions that must be answered.


Psychologists do not have in our memory a book that contains all the vital guidelines to follow and what needs to be done in each case. First, because such a book does not exist , and psychologists are normal people, flesh and blood, and not oracles with the ability to come into contact with something like divine and universal laws.

But then, what does psychotherapy consist of? This brings us to the second point of why the task of a psychologist is not based on giving advice.

Psychotherapy is a task of two

Get to understand which options are the best to deal with a problem it is something that must be done by both the psychologist and the patient , not only for the first one.

Knowing what to do depends on the will of the person seeking help and the specific characteristics of their life, and the role of the psychologist is to guide on the fly , do not transmit categorical answers to vital doubts.

Of course, if psychologists had as a tool a list of laws of life, these would be so many that they would not fit in a room, and even less in the long-term memory of a psychotherapist. Simply, the characteristics of a person's problem can be so many and so varied that there can not be a defined action protocol for each one .

Thus, much of what a psychologist does in the consultation is simply listening to understand the client's problem and to have the opportunity to develop a series of individualized measures. Only for that reason, it is impossible that your work can be summarized with a "I give advice", something that can normally be done in a bar after 10 minutes of conversation. Do not; the psychologist listen and ask many questions for a long time and in several sessions .

But what comes next, when the psychologist understands the problem, is not giving advice either.

Act on the focus of the problem

Giving advice is simply that, issuing a series of statements in which people talk about what should be done in a specific case. But psychologists do not do that.Talking about what should be done is not, in itself, something that brings the person closer to solving that problem, because to believe that would be to fall into the error of assuming that psychological problems appear simply when a person does not know what It has to be done.

Thus, a person with addiction to gambling would simply need someone to insist a lot on the advice to stop playing. Once that person becomes aware of the problem from what he hears the other says, the problem will be solved. It's a pity that this does not happen in the real world: psychological problems are not born from the lack of information, but from something much deeper: Unsuitable behavior patterns that should be corrected doing more and talking less.

Thus, the work of psychologists is not to inform people about what they should do, but to guide them towards a model of behavior that is useful and that allows them to be happier. That is why the product of psychotherapy sessions are not aphorisms and maxims of life , but intervention programs such as Training in Self-instruction, something like routines that are used in a gym made for our brain.

Mental health psychologists they create the necessary conditions so that their patients can reorient their actions and their thoughts in a more appropriate way, according to their own objectives. Perhaps that temptation to ask for advice from psychologists comes, precisely, from the fact that the latter is not very clear, the idea of ​​what is wanted. In the councils, the objective to be aspired to is already given: "do this". Fortunately or not, what happens in a psychologist's office is much more complex.


5 Signs You Are Seeing a BAD Therapist! psychology & mental health with Kati Morton (May 2024).


Similar Articles