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Is therapy different from advice?

What is the first thing that one chooses when in a pickle?

It’s to TALK…whether it be with someone we trust or with someone from a more professional outlook.

Why do we do that? 

It is to find solutions to all our problems. We want to know the correct path to follow and we need someone to give us just that.

But how is talking to your friend different from talking to a therapist?

That is precisely the focus of this blog. 

Is therapy different from advice?

Among the many forms of communicating, therapy and advice sometimes happen to sound similar. However, at its core, these two are fundamentally different! 

Let’s take a look into these differences and similarities to better understand the two concepts.

Similarities between therapy and advice - 

The Dynamic - 

The most common aspect of therapy and advice is communication. These involve a heart-to-heart, ‘honest to God conversation’ conversation aspect. Which makes it easy to confuse the two to be similar. When in reality these are quite different. 

Aim of the conversation - 

Both therapy and advice are sought after with the aim of a solution. There is a sense of distortion or a ‘glitch’ that requires fixing and thus to fix it help is sought after and a solution is presented in each case, thus making them look like an overlapped phenomenon, when in fact the difference itself lies in the presentation of the solution.

Trust - 

Trust is an important factor for any healing to be incurred. Which is what makes it easy to confuse the therapy session with an advisory conversation. One would not ask for advice from someone they do not trust. Therapy too shares a similar situational setting as it revolves around building trust.  

Differences between therapy and advice - 

Here are some pointers on the differences between therapy and advice - 

Individuals involved - 

The therapist is an expert and they must tune in, comprehend, identify and give points of view to their client or patient. They are prepared so they could more readily comprehend the issues faced by the client and give a perspective to them to make the best judgement using their own understanding and circumstances.

The advice then again involves a discussion with somebody, whose solution to you comes from their emotional comprehension of the circumstance, hued in their persuasions, encounters, and convictions. This infests counsel to be, something of an idea towards one potential result, from one likely source.

Aim of the conversation - 

One engages with therapy with the aim of healing and self-actualization. Advice on the other hand does not always have an aim, a passing judgement at times can also serve as advice if perceived to be so.

The advice can also be asked for or offered freely. Therapy hones differently here as it is engaged with a specific purpose or simply to get to know yourself better. 

The possible action - 

As stated above, therapy comes to heal. This aim is achieved with the help of honest communication with the trained professional, who looks for distortions and makes the individual aware of them, leaving them with the realisation of the distortion, and then coming up with the most feasible yet healthy outcome towards it. 

Advice, on the other hand, offers a possible suggestion as to what one thinks could be done. Should you take the snippet of suggestion or not is entirely up to you.

The relationship -

The relationship between you and your therapist is absolutely professional when it comes to therapy. The only time a therapist and the client meet and interact is in professional settings and interactions outside the therapeutic setting or “safe space” are limited and avoided. 

Advice, on the other hand, is usually asked from a trusted someone, one who is known and trusted for advice and one that the individual is familiar with and has shared multiple settings as well as aspects of their life with. This can lead to a more biased opinion.

The setting - 

Therapy involves a safe setting where personal and confidential information is shared. It is free of judgments. 

Advice on the other hand, while building in backgrounds of safety, a sense of a casual conversation still lingers in the forefront. Ultimately making it a conversation yet again. 

The decision - 

The job of the therapist is to make the client realise the problem and this is done through carefully understanding and empathising with what is told in the ‘safe space’. 

Advice, however, presents a straightforward, subjectively evaluated solution to the problem. Making it more like instruction than realisation. 

In conclusion - 

Therapy and advice

 both share and deviate in many situations. Thus, choosing the pathway to solution depends greatly on the nature and the specifics of the problem. Advice might help someone with the generalised problems of life whereas therapy might work well for someone facing problems of a more specific nature like emotional dissonance, or cognitive incongruity. Needless to say, the individual facing the problem, is the best judge of the solution.