Why psychologists do not give advice

People who have graduated in psychology or who work as psychologists know well that besides asking for a free consultation, there is another habit that leads many people to make a fundamental mistake when they feel that a friend or a family is a psychologist. : ask for advice on life.

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

Assuming that the job of a psychologist is to give advice leads some people to ask for their help by raising a problem and ending the subject with a “what should I do?” But while it may seem strange given the myths that circulate about the profession, psychologists do not give advice. Below I will explain why.

Psychologists: dealing with individual or collective problems

People with a background in psychology know things about behavior and mental processes that predispose them to know better how to handle certain situations in a useful and effective way, yes. But that doesn’t mean they can give advice to someone “on the go”.

In reality, it is not even true that all psychologists deal with the vital problems of specific people. This is only done by those who participate in psychotherapy and clinical intervention; there are also many other branches of psychology in which you either work for organizations and not for isolated people (organizational psychology or human resources), or you do research from data on many people, as it happens. produced in psychological research and cognitive science.

In either case, psychologists do not intervene in cases of individual psychological problems, so asking for advice does not make much sense. But this is also not the case when the person is engaged in psychotherapy and mental health.. Because?

Magical solutions to universal problems

As we have seen, many psychologists do not focus their work on solving collective problems or problems delimited by legal persons and not by individuals. However, those involved in individual cases also do not give advice, for three basic reasons.

The need to attend a consultation

If you want individual care, you have to buy the individual care package, not just the look of it.

In other words, that is to say a consultation is required, A context in which, despite this name, the customer will not ask questions to which he will have to answer.

Psychologists don’t have in mind a book with all the essential guidelines to follow and what to do in each case. First, because such a book does not existAnd psychologists are normal people, flesh and blood, not oracles capable of coming into contact with some kind of divine and universal laws.

So what is psychotherapy? This brings us to the second point about why the job of a psychologist is not to give advice.

Psychotherapy is a two-person task

Learn to understand what are the best options for solving a problem it is something that must be done by both the psychologist and the patient, Not just for the first one.

Knowing what to do depends on the will of the person asking for help and the specific characteristics of their life, and the function of the psychologist is to orient himself on the fly, Do not give categorical answers to a vital doubt.

Of course, if psychologists had a list of the laws of life as a tool, there would be so many of them that they wouldn’t fit in a room, let alone in the long-term memory of a psychotherapist. Simply put, the characteristics of a person’s problem can be so many and so varied that there cannot be a defined action protocol for each.

Much of what a psychologist does during the consultation is simply listening to understand the client’s problem and to have the opportunity to develop a series of individualized measures. Just because of that, it’s already impossible for your job to boil down to a “I give advice”, which can usually be done in a bar after 10 minutes of conversation. no; the psychologist listens and asks many questions for a long time and in several sessions.

But what comes next, when the psychologist understands the problem, also does not give advice.

Act on the focus of the problem

Giving advice is just making a series of statements in which they talk about what needs to be done in a particular case. But psychologists don’t do that. Talking about what needs to be done is not, in and of itself, something that brings the person very close to solving this problem, because to believe it would be to fall into the mistake of assuming that psychological problems simply arise when a person does not know. not what to do. do.

So, a person with a gambling addiction would simply need someone to put a lot of emphasis on the advice to stop gambling. Once that person became aware of the problem from what they heard, the problem would be solved. Too bad that in the real world this does not happen: psychological problems are not born from a lack of information, but from something much deeper: inappropriate behavior patterns that need to be corrected do more and talk less.

So the job of psychologists is not to educate people on what to do, but to guide them to a pattern of behavior that is useful to them and 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 self-study, a sort of routine used in a gym designed for our brains.

Mental health psychologists they create the conditions necessary for their patients to reorient their actions and thoughts more appropriately, according to their own goals. Perhaps this temptation to seek advice from psychologists comes precisely because the latter is not very clear, the idea of ​​what one wants. In the advice, the objective to be achieved is already given: “to do this”. Fortunately or not, what happens when consulting a psychologist is much more complex.

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