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  • Steven Sutton, LCSW

How to choose a helper

Robert T. Fancher's article "The Conundrum of Psychotherapy," originally published in The Washington Post, explores the complexity of seeking help from a helper. Whether you're seeking therapy, coaching, or any other type of counseling, Fancher's insights can help you make the most of your experience.

One of the key points Fancher makes is that helpers do not have objective truths on what makes people healthy or ill. While there are many different types of therapy, coaching, and counseling, none of them can claim to be "the truth." Therefore, it's essential to calibrate our expectations of helpers and view them as a resource for personal growth and change.

Fancher also emphasizes the importance of choosing a helper who aligns with our values and commitments. While we might not know what makes people healthy or ill, we do know what matters to us personally. Therefore, it's crucial to ask questions in the early sessions and choose a helper who shares our values and beliefs.

Beyond that, Fancher suggests that we look to our helper as a "third eye" – a source of independent observations and ideas for consideration. Instead of blindly following our helper's advice, we should take their feedback into account and make our own decisions. Additionally, we should expect our helper to support their ideas with reasons and take our reservations seriously.

Choosing a helper can be intimidating, but Fancher offers practical advice for making a wise choice. In addition to choosing a helper who shares our values and beliefs, we should also consider their clinical skills. Effective helpers are good at establishing rapport, communicating with the client, and offering feedback from a dispassionate perspective.

If you're interested in reading more of Fancher's insights on choosing a helper, you can visit his website at By changing our expectations of helpers and choosing a helper wisely, we can make the most of our experience and achieve personal growth and change.

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