Sherrie Darnell is a Limited Licensed Counselor (LLC) in private practice at Trinity Family Counseling Center. Sherrie’s view of counseling is that it works best as a collaborative effort. She believes each person and situation is unique, and she works to facilitate her clients’ self-exploration to help them uncover the solutions that work for them and their unique strengths. She uses supported strategies and theories, combined with empathy and non-judgmental acceptance, to help you achieve your goals.
Clients often wonder why their counselor won’t just tell them what to do. Leave the job, lose the boyfriend, stay in the marriage, keep the baby, take the medication, confront the past. A decisive yes or no, do this not that, can feel like a lifeline when someone is drowning in indecision. By virtue of our title and training, professional counselors are the people qualified to dispense such “counsel,” right?
But often, if not mostly, counselors intentionally avoid giving advice. There are reasons we refrain from advice-giving in favor of helping you find your way to your own decision. Here are three of them:
Greater self-understanding. The road to making any decision is paved with your personal values and motivations, not your counselor’s. Helping you excavate what is uniquely important to you and explore what living out your values means is what your counselor is trained to do. The self-awareness you reap by engaging in this process pays rich dividends beyond your immediate dilemma.
Ownership. Daring to wade through your mire of jumbled thoughts and pain points is hard. Sitting in the struggle is hard. Committing to a choice that leaves some roads forever untraveled is hard. But doing this work is taking responsibility for your own life. As part of their role, your counselor may offer up perspectives and share relevant research. But ultimately, taking a step and owning it is your brave work to do and leads to greater maturity and authenticity.
Your spiritual growth, if that’s important to you. Your counselor wants to respect the role your personal faith may play in your decision-making. If you are a Christian, every struggle is a chance to draw closer to Jesus, search Scripture for guidance, and receive peace that surpasses understanding even within your turmoil. Your pastor or spiritual leader may provide specific guidance. But your counselor – even one who shares your faith – generally seeks to support your own spiritual journey rather than supplant it.
While we may not give specific advice, with reason, we have skills to help you draw out insights, clarify values, untangle thoughts, weigh pros and cons, and navigate emotions. And we are trained to do this with great empathy and without judgement. We will come alongside you on the challenging road to your own decision, which may be just the support you need.