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Celebrating a return to online advice giving

October 8th, 2012

Dr Petra

Last week I started a new post at The Telegraph’s Wonder Women section, where I will be answering reader problems.

Over the past decade I’ve given advice to women and men, Trans and Cis, teenagers and adults. To audiences who are straight, questioning or LGB. People from the UK and Internationally have asked for advice and I’ve been happy to provide it in in print, online and on radio. This has included working at Men’s Health, More!, Grazia, Beauty Zambia, mykindaplace, BBC Radio 5 Live and the World Service. Some of these positions I’ve held for several years, others only for a short time. All of them I’ve enjoyed and I’ve felt have been a real privilege to deliver. (You can find out more about this work here).

You can see the first two questions and my replies on the Telegraph site:

Sex, lies and a cheating wife: My friend is having an affair (a smart reader has already emailed me to remind me I didn’t make a point about the risks of STIs and unprotected sex in my reply. I’m hoping to have this amended shortly).
My boyfriend doesn’t want kids – should I marry him? Colleagues and friends have reflected back on this particular reply the importance of stressing how someone who does not want children is not necessarily acting from a position of past trauma or disliking children. But are making an informed choice that children simply are not for them. And that they are fine about this and do not need fixing.

Since starting the column I’ve had a number of emails asking me how people could become an Agony Aunt. You might find this guide to commonly asked questions regarding media advice giving useful. Or this post about How to become an Agony Aunt or Uncle may help if you are interested in learning more about this career. I also wrote about meeting a very famous Agony Aunt Claire Rayner who gave me an inspiring insight into how she worked as a media advice giver.

Agony Aunts (and Uncles) are not there to personally solve your problems (although with some cases you wish it were possible). They are best thought of as a signpost to existing services. If doing their work well they can reflect back to you a particular dilemma you might have and provide you with as many solutions as they can imagine – based on your situation, country setting and what details you have provided. Ideally they will give you ideas to help address problems yourself, but they can also refer to support services if appropriate (or available). This is the model of advice giving I work to and I actively encourage others providing this service to do the same.

If you’ve a sex and relationships problem feel free to email me at and I will do my best to answer. You may also want to check out my new Help and Advice directory that friends and colleagues have helped me create and I will continue to build (if you can spot an issue or resource that isn’t listed, please let me know). I’ve also already had a number of emails asking me questions about media advice giving, so if you have a question about being an Agony Aunt or Uncle that isn’t addressed in the links above again please drop me a message and I’ll aim to answer all questions in a future blog post.

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