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Caveat Emptor- let the buyer beware

posted Jan 25, 2015, 1:12 PM by Bruce Cowper-Smith
Canadian laws put a certain amount of responsibility on the buyers of goods and services to be aware and somewhat knowledgeable about the goods and services they are buying. Becoming knowledgeable often involves some shopping around and asking questions and comparing features and costs. When it comes to buying counselling services, I notice clients don't do much shopping around, and even when they do, they don't seem to know what to ask. Some clients assume counselling is regulated, like medicine for example, where services can't be offered by someone untrained. But in Alberta, counselling is not regulated. This means anyone could open a counselling office, and charge clients for their time. If you want a qualified counselor, then you are going to have to ask some questions. Besides asking general questions about specific training and experience, I think clients should ask about areas of specialty and what areas are beyond the capabilities of the counselor. I have found that people who are not properly trained tend to overstate their abilities and not be aware of their limitations. On the other hand, people who are well trained and experienced tend to be more comfortable acknowledging the areas where they are not proficient. If you speak with a counselor who can't identify areas that are beyond their abilities, thats a good sign they lack training, experience or both. You are the buyer, and its up to you to beware.