Choosing A Therapist That's Right for You! Over the course of this column, I’ve often encouraged people to seek help when they feel stuck in their lives. I realize though, that this is a foreign experience for most people. We are culturally conditioned to believe that it is weak to seek help for personal matters. This is a myth. In reality, it can take a lot of courage to take the risk of seeing past our conditioned ego and see what lurks beneath. We are also conditioned to believe it is weak to show our vulnerable side. Another myth! In reality it takes strength to show the vulnerable parts of ourselves we have hidden away. But even when we have decided our life is out of control and we need a neutral perspective, most people are unfamiliar with the helping network. Most clients find their therapist through word of mouth. But I have always been amazed at the number of clients who say that they just picked a name in the yellow pages. I realize that many people seeking help do not know their options. Here are some guidelines to follow when looking for someone with which to do personal growth work. 1) You must feel comfortable with your therapist. If you don’t feel comfortable you are with the wrong person. You do yourself a great disservice by staying with a therapist you don’t like. Nothing will happen! 2) You can ask questions about the therapist’s formal training. Personally, if a client takes the time to ask such questions, I know that they’re serious about finding a good match. Training for therapists crosses several formal educational disciplines. Relevant degrees can be earned in Social Work, Child and Youth Care, Nursing, Counselling, or Psychology. 3) I have found that often people are confused about the difference between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist. A Psychologist is a licensed professional with a Ph.D in psychology. Psychiatrists are physicians who has completed a residency in psychiatry and are the only mental health professionals licensed to prescribe medications. 4) You can also ask questions about your counsellor’s theoretical approach. Even if you are not knowledgeable about such theory, you will still be picking up clues as to whether or not this therapist is for you. Some of the approaches to therapy might be; behavioral, cognitive, humanistic, experiential, psychoanalytic, family systems, bodywork therapies, energy psychology and many more. 5) The field of energy psychology is relatively new and includes a large number of differing techniques. These techniques move beyond "talking therapies' and will incorporate both the body and mind to facilitate deeper and lasting change. 6) There are both public and private counsellors. Public counsellors work for community or government agencies where there is usually little or no fee for service. Private counsellors do charge a fee for service. Their fee usually depends on their level of experience and education. Some have a sliding scale. It’s like shopping for anything else; don’t forget to ask how much! Many extended health plans include coverage for counselling. 7) And finally, throughout your counselling experience, you need to be the judge as to whether or not this experience is helping you meet your change goals. Keep control of your own growth process.