Written by Rachel Arieff
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Counselors are people who are trained in methods of listening and problem solving around various issues. To give you some idea of the breadth of these issues, they can include the following: drug and alcohol addiction; anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorders; post traumatic stress disorder; grief counseling; and gay couples counseling.

Counselors can be doctors, but they don't have to be. Rather, "counseling" is a broad term that can encompass many fields of expertise. Don't ever assume that a counselor is a medically-trained, psychotherapeutic professional. If you have any questions about a person's credentials, by all means, ask. Never accept counseling from a person about whom you have doubts. You should always follow your "gut feeling" where psychological counseling is concerned. After all, this is your mental health. You deserve to be in good hands.

Common Sense about Counselors

If it's important to you to receive counseling from a medical doctor, such as a psychotherapist, then you should look for one. However, it is important to understand that this type of professional will cost more than another kind of mental health professional. In fact, in some situations, a non-doctor therapist can be just as effective as a psychotherapist.

Another thing to consider when looking for counselors is the cultural factor. For example, if you are a person of color and race-related issues play a major role in your life, you should seek a counselor of color, or one with expertise in this area. The same goes for gays and lesbians, immigrants, and other groups who come from a different culture from the mainstream. Finding a counselor who understands and is sensitive to your cultural specifics can make the therapeutic process that much easier for you.

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