Foundational Point #1: The difference between Advice and a Suggestion

September 9, 2021

If you were my patient, there would be a point during the course of therapy that I would as you the difference between advice and a suggestion.

Devoid of any judgement, patients more often than not interchange the means or consider them to be one and the same.

But there is a difference—a big one! This must be clearly articulated so that moving forward there is hope that you—the patient—would take responsibility for your decisions…whatever they may be.

Here is how I define advice and a suggestion in my private practice:

Advice - Being directive (essentially telling someone what they should do and how to do it). Ideally, it should come from an individual who has experience in the area that they are given advice on. Being more senior in age isn’t always a prerequisite.

People have been giving all sorts of advice since the dawn of time. The danger is when the one receiving the advice takes it head on without regard for the consequences.

For instance, “Jack, invest all of your money in ABC Stock today! You can’t lose.” Without giving it a second though, Jack puts his life savings into ABC Stocks. The following day, the market crashes and Jack is ruined.

Jack immediate blames the individual who gave him the advice. “Why did you tell me to do this! It’s all your fault that I am in this predicament! “I’m ruined because of you!”

So, what is the lesson here? If one blindly receives advice, there is a tendency for them to not take responsibility for their actions. Basically, it’s the fault of everyone else and not them if things end up not working out.

In my private practice, I hardly ever give advice (I know, it’s ironic that the the name of this newsletter is The Monthly Advice Newsletter. To be honest, it was catchy and if you’ve read this far, you likely started reading because of the title.) and instead focus on giving a number of suggestions.

Which brings us to the definition of…

Suggestion - Unlike advice giving, a suggestion revolves around presenting several options to the individual as well as discussing the pros and cons. It is imperative that the individual freely select their chosen option as…well, it is my hope that they will take responsibility for their decision

If you were my patient, I would end by saying—accountability is the key.

Stay safe!

- Dr. Tedi


Tedi Gustilo Villasor, Ph.D. has a private practice at the Makati Medical Center specializing in counseling and sport psychology. As of December 2016, he has also expanded his practice to Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa.

He is a former columnist for Baby Magazine (Philippines) as well as a past contributor to His other works include the indie comic books Lindol and OBIsessions.

Click here for more information on his work as a psychologist.

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