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The problem with giving advice

Updated: Mar 19, 2021

This past week we did a live stream on The Resilient Purpose Podcast and we talked about a variety of topics and one of them was on giving advice to people who are struggling. Below are some of the notes from this conversation and you can also watch on our youtube page!

"A lot of people aren't necessarily looking for you to tell them what to do."

"So there is a story that I tell a lot in training where I was working in a girls group home and there was a staff member that was wanting to talk about something that she was upset about or frustrated about with work. So I started just trying to solve her problems and she's like "don't do that like I didn't want you to solve my problem I just want you to listen."

"That's all she needed in that moment because maybe she's trying to work it out in her mind but she needs a sounding board or or human connection and so when we we jump right in for solutions it's like well that's not what i'm looking for don't tell me what to do just listen."

The Problem with giving advice

The problem sometimes with advice is that if you went through a car wreck and I went through a car wreck it doesn't mean that we experience it the same way. If you experience physical abuse and I experience physical abuse it's not the same thing. So I can't just tell you "Hey you should do this" because maybe you experienced it different or have a different perspective or you're affected by it differently than I am.

The other thing is that if I tell you what to do and it doesn't work... than it's my fault. My job as a therapist is to be a facilitator so I see myself as I'm going to take you on a journey to find out what's going to work best for you.

Ask "How can I help you?" or "What do you need from me?"

What can be helpful for people that are going through a crisis or really struggling with something is to ask the question "What can I do for you in this situation." As therapists we want to help you come up with ideas and walk with you through wether we think it's a good idea or not.

Examples to ask yourself in a crisis

  1. If you do this will it help your situation? If the answer is yes that's good.

  2. Does it address my concern? You probably have a concern or a problem that you are trying to solve, so does it address your concern?

  3. Is it realistic of what you are trying to do?

There are a lot of factors that play a role so try to be a facilitator or be a listener when someone is coming to you in a crisis.

#therapy #advice #listening #help

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