Many reasons bring people to the point of wanting to see a counselor or psychologist. In their quest for a quality provider, the question arises on how to find a competent and ethical counselor or psychologist. Some individuals are seeking personal development because they feel stuck, others suffer from depression, anxiety, OCD and burnout, or are having marital problems. Regardless of why someone is seeking services, they deserve to be well taken care of.
Are psychologists and counselors regulated in Dubai?
Yes, Dubai has a complex system of licensure. This means that the licensee must meet significant educational requirements (Master’s Degree or more from an accredited university), have several thousands of hours of supervised work experience, and be of good standing.
This means that when you seek the services of a counselor or psychologist, you will be well advised to choose among those professionals who hold a license through one of Dubai’s licensing agencies. This information should be readily available on the provider’s website.
How do I know if I need a psychologist, a counselor, a psychiatrist or life coach?
Psychologists and Counselors
The designations psychologist and counselor are terms that came about through boundaries set by professional boards and licensing. There are differences between these professionals and commonalities. Essentially though, they both provide psychotherapy. I have used the terms interchangeably for this blog. The important thing to note is that a qualified counselor or psychologist can facilitate personal development, will have the clinical skills to diagnose and treat mental health disorders (depression, anxiety, OCD etc.), and know when to refer to a psychiatrist for pharmacotherapy (when medication and therapy is used together). Furthermore, if you have mental health benefits on your insurance plan, most insurance companies request that you see a licensed provider.
A psychiatrist is a mental healthcare provider who prescribes medication. Psychiatrists are medical doctors with additional specialization in psychiatry. If you think you might need medication to treat a mental health disorder, e.g. depression, anxiety, or OCD, a psychiatrist would be the right choice for a consultation.
The difference between the first 3 professional categories and life coaching is licensure. Life coaching is an unlicensed profession in Dubai. However, they have set up their own standards of education and training hours and are self-governing. There are a number of fine life coaches in Dubai, but you will be well advised to have a closer look at their education (degrees) and training hours. I have meet a good number of people who with the help of a life coach made great progress towards the changes they wished to make in their lives. Please be aware that life coaches most likely do not have the education, training and experience to diagnose and treat mental health disorders.
What qualities do I look for in a counselor or psychologist?
This is a very important question, because a positive, therapeutic relationship needs to build between the client and the therapist. Every client has unique needs to feel safe and secure and understood. Think about whom you would be comfortable opening up to. Would it be a person of the same, or opposite sex? Would you like to speak in you native language to feel like the most subtle of nuances will be picked up? Is it important to you to make and understand cultural references? Is religion a factor? Does the age and personal status of the person working with you make a difference?
Clearly, these are questions that can guide you in choosing a provider. Most professionals post a bio from which you can learn most basic details. It will be upon meeting the psychologist or counselor that you will be able to feel if someone is a good match and you will be able ask questions. Personally, I am an open book, but a professional does have the right to respectfully maintain their privacy.
A few firm musts are that you: always feel respected, are not being judged, and are not being told how to manage your life. Therapy is a process through which you heal, gain insights, grow, and find a positive way to go forward in your life.