Saturday, February 2, 2008

"How do we determine a competent professional?" asks a reader in South H.

Dear Dr. Jim

Very frequently, you advise that people seek professional help. But many of us have lost faith in the professional community because of the many reports of their members' ineptitudes.

So how do we determine a competent professional?

Ray asked from South H.

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Dear Ray

Here are some rules about finding a competent professional:

1. Talk with your friends. They may know of some good professionals in the area you wish, or they may have had personal experience with some. Remember, you are looking for good points and bad points, no one, not even a professional, is perfect.
Note also that this makes you vulnerable, your friends will be asking (perhaps not to your face), 'why is Ray concerned with finding a good professional?'
I generally work around this problem by talking in disguised content, like 'my friend--a name you make up--is trying to find ...'

2. Make an appointment. Your gut feeling and instincts are good here. If you feel uneasy tell the person you think you will be getting several opinions.
Don't hurt the professional's feelings here. I once told an ear doctor who was having trouble diagnosing the ringing in my ears that 'it was all in my head, right?' That doc got mad, left the room and slammed the door on his way out. That was the end for us two.
He couldn't take a joke, at least not this one!

3. Do you realize you are writing a book of your life? Many don't. So is your professional, try to read his or hers the best you can.

The first volume is the e-mail log. Big brother can find those old risqué e-mailings and use them for evidence. Just look at our astronauts here in Houston and the poor District Attorney. Each of them have lost their jobs because of what was said (real steamy stuff) on cyber-space.

The second volume is in what you see on your computer. Not everyone can boast that they always watch and read just the good stuff. When I run into something on an acquaintance's blog or e-mail that is in poor taste, I remark to them that I had a hard time bringing it up. That I had to override my kiddie filter. Most times they will appologize and promise to straighten up some. Other times, they just Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: it without reading to the bottom. I did this once, to my own kids. It was embarassing, the punchline, which I didn't read, was not good.

The third volume of your book is compiled from your check book and credit card transaction records.

The latter tells where your practical values are. The first two reflect upon your moral life.

There is a saying, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Here and Luke 12:34)

4. Check with the professional registry. For example, the State Bar of Texas has on their Web site, after a search for a given attorney, all disciplinary actions taken against the lawyer for a period of ten years. Many other professionals have registries similar.

5. Be sure to check on your state on-line Sexual Preditor Search Registry (link) (Texas). You can search for problems here by entering the professional's home address. While you're at it, do a check on your own address to find any of those preditors who might be living near you and your children.

My list in not nearly comprehensive enough, but I feel it is a good start for you.

And as always, I hope I have helped you, Ray, and all the others who read these pages.

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Dr. Jim also tells us here:

... where a persons treasure is, there ...

Three indicators of what is important to you

e-mails and computer use
credit card use

So, keep on keep'n on, and till then,
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