Don’t Fix Anything

When someone is hurting or struggling and they want your help, your impulse may be to go for the quick fix, to offer up some advice or to try to solve their problem. It’s natural to want to fix what’s wrong, to make it feel better, to make it go away, and this is why one of the most basic instructions I give to my counseling students is, “Don’t fix anything.”

Trying to fix a problem often runs counter to a much richer kind of activity available in counseling relationships, that of deepening a person’s relationship to the problem. Often, however, people don’t seem to want this. They want you to fix them, and they want you to do it by understanding and working with the problem in exactly the terms they have come to understand it in. Don’t fall for that trick. Whether or not they know it, you have something to offer them far more beneficial than a quick fix . . .

About the Author

Steve Bearman, Ph.D., earned his doctorate in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He founded Interchange Counseling Institute in 2002 and is the lead teacher of Interchange's San Francisco-based year-long counseling and coaching training. When he's not counseling people, leading workshops, and advocating for social justice, Steve climbs mountains, adventures in the urban wilderness, explores the edges and limits of what's possible, deconstructs everything, and finds new ways to put it all back together.