Is Therapy Really About Advice?
Many people enter therapy during a time in their journey that provokes a desire for “solutions.” They are often looking to “fix,” “solve,” and “cure” something that is causing them troubles. Totally fair. We have all been there (honestly, I feel like we are all there all the time to some degree or another).
There’s this common myth that therapists are “advice givers,” and clients are “receivers of this advice.” Perhaps this notion feels somewhat comforting, because when we are in pain, we naturally want to absolve ourselves of that pain. So, the idea of sitting in a room for a few sessions with someone who point-blank tells you what to do and the steps to take might sound quite appealing. I know it certainly calms the parts of me that want answers and directives.
However, this is so far from the way that I think of what therapy is, what it can be, and what my role is in the therapeutic space. In other words, I am no “advice-giver.” I don't have a crystal ball to "direct" you and "tell you what to do." The crystal ball part might be kind of cool, but I certainly have no interest in "directing" you... YOU are the emperor of your story, and I am, instead, someone who can sit with you as you experience the pain you are holding on to.
Therapy, in my worldview, is much more about asking the questions, rather defining and living for the answers. I am constantly struck by an episode of Krista Tippett’s “On Being Podcast,” where she states,
"When a question stops us in our tracks, those are moments that discovery and turning points occur."
Krista shares the notion that asking the questions is “life giving,” and the quality of these questions shapes our path to self-discovery.
By starting to ask the questions, we recognize that it is not the answers that we are searching for. Rather, we are searching for a greater alignment with what questions we are asking. By asking questions, we accumulate more questions. As experiences occur and the passage of time ensues, the questions become more specific, more in tune, and more authentic to what it is we are searching for.
Therapy, for me, is not about finding a solution or skill to mask a present-day issue. I believe in learning more about the questions that have led up to today. I believe in acknowledging and being curious to the parts of us that have developed through the course of our lives, to build a deeper understanding of the “why’s and how’s,” which can generate a more compassionate relationship to self and others.
Therapy is a relational process within a relational life – so much of our experiences, the positive and the wounded, come from the relationships we engage in: with our caregivers, peers, bosses, society, greater systems, ourselves, and so on.
I believe that the most inherent part of the therapeutic process is the therapeutic relationship. In order to heal relational wounds, we must heal within the relational context of others. Therapy can be a relationship that demonstrates that not all relationships are inherently unsafe, and that through this relationship, we can safely explore relationships to self and others.
Curiosity and openness (!!!questions vs solutions!!!!) are cornerstones to this relational work.
Therapy is so much more than what I can even begin inserting into a quick blog post. But, for now, therapy, in my mind, is about the relationship, the attachment, and the questions we ask ourselves and each other in the process of growing and working together.
Ready to start asking yourself the questions and align with your authenticity?