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The Psychological ‘Approval’ Need Is Bankrolled by ‘Experts’

bigstock--141190793Not all experts feed financially on the public’s need for approval, but most of them do. We have this desire to always hire experts because we don’t trust our instincts, which often is a mistake. The need for assurance that what we think is OK is, in fact, truly OK really is profitable for many so-called experts. It is also an area of self-esteem that needs to be addressed.

If we lack self-esteem or confidence, then our life decisions — from business to fashion — become truly dependent on what others deem “OK”. Further, who are these others? Most experts aren’t really experts. They are readily available to help you believe in you, but they don’t have the genuine qualifications to help with small decisions- never mind the big life decisions!

Who you are and who you trust comes down to a need, or a lack of a need, for approval. Getting other opinions before making a choice is healthy, but not trusting ourselves and our instincts isn’t.

When we decide to bring in an expert, we have to assess what is most important to us and also what our motivation is. Here are things to keep in mind when deciding to hire (or not hire) an expert:

  1. Ask yourself what is most important. You have to start building a relationship based on trust — in a safe place, where what you say is confident. The relationship requires commitment from both the therapist and client, and in that way, the client begins to be able to take the risks needed to grow. Research now shows that the kind of therapy is not nearly as important as the relationship that is built.
  2. Seek out how much of an expert one truly is. This is a critical factor of professionalism — good boundaries, respecting the client’s time and expecting the same in return, knowing your field, and having the experience to be able to deal with the unexpected.  This is part of the trusting relationship — the client needs to know what the rules are, and that they are in good hands.
  3. Finally, genuine caring by the expert is required. Do the experts truly care about the outcome of their advice for your life, your fashion choices, your business choices? Whatever it may be? You have to ask yourself if the experts you’re working with have the capacity to understand their advice within your life? Remember, empathy is something that is essential — being able to put ourselves in the shoes of the client. Even if we’ve never experienced what they’re experiencing, we can imagine what it might be like, and draw on our own similar life experiences. This ties into Point 2 — having a depth of experience from which to draw. Does your expert come from this line of thinking? Do you trust him or her to step back and think within these terms?

Before heading out and hiring any expert to make your life choices, or at least advise you on them, consider where you are at psychologically, where your self-esteem sits, and the motivation for hiring an expert. If you’re not in a healthy headspace, make sure the person you are working with is fully credentialed as an expert and has a component of empathy when it comes to your work.

The Psychological ‘Approval’ Need Is Bankrolled by ‘Experts’

Maryanne Nicholls

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist (RP), Certified Gestalt Therapist (Cert. GIT), and trained in Narrative Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT), and Trauma & Attachment Psychotherapy. Her company, The Joy of Living, provides in-person and online therapeutic resources focusing on trauma and stress. Further, Maryanne is a professional speaker. More about Maryanne, The Joy of Living, and her specialty can be found here:

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APA Reference
Nicholls, M. (2018). The Psychological ‘Approval’ Need Is Bankrolled by ‘Experts’. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 4, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 2 Feb 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.