Psychiatrist:  There used to be a time where - while one part of society considered the psychiatrist the new caste of gurus - other people looked at them as butchers who turn our kids into drug addicts and fry our brains with electric shocks.

Neither one of these views is valid anymore. Psychiatry, at the moment, is a field where the paradigm changes chase each other in shorter and shorter intervals. Yesterday everybody prescribed serotonin reuptake inhibitors - today a study is published that they increase the suicide risk 68 times, and the patients get weaned from them within two weeks. Neuroleptics are found to create an artificial hateful personality - responsible psychiatrists start looking for alternatives.

Some psychiatrists go a "velvet route" and try to work entirely or nearly entirely without drugs. There is a child psychiatrist in Austria, Max Friedrich, who talks and writes - at the moment unfortunately only in German - about "emotional tentacles" which "bleed" when they are injured - this is a clearly spiritual concept which cannot be traced back to any biological structure. Others are experimenting with "rebirthing" and past lives.

For more and more psychiatrists, the times are over where a human personality has been solely seen as a collection of bioelectrical currents produced by a brain. Even if this were really true and all the reincarnation stories and collections of near death experiences (which seem to prove that the personality is not the brain and that it survives physical death) were just a delusion - even then the personality would need a different treatment than a chunk of meat, and psychiatry is beginning to realize that.

Making the choice between a psychiatrist and a mental trainer is, first and foremost, a legal question. Mental training is a "cutting edge" field. If it works with more than the human (physical) aspects of a person, it dances on thin ice. Official certification does not comprise those parts of the training which deal with the spirit - this is a field which traditionally has been covered by religion, but religion typically lacks the methodical approach. Can we afford to work with methods which neglect the spiritual half of our nature?

Of course not even a psychiatrist with a triple doctorate can keep a depressed mother from throwing her kids off the balcony and then jumping herself (this happened in Vienna, Austria). Nor can he keep freaked out kids from shooting around in their classroom (keyword "Colombine"). But he has gone through the motions of becoming a legally approved practitioner, and if he is not found guilty of malpractice, nobody can blame him for such a tragedy.

If something like this happens to a non-certified mental trainer, he is in trouble. On the other hand, the university training of the psychiatrist next door may never have touched spiritual basics which have been mainstream religion 3000 years ago, then were ridiculed yesterday, might be considered "cutting edge" tomorrow, and might be considered an indispensable foundation of training in 50 years. Remember the chaos in the professional field which was caused by Ignaz Semmelweis' discovery of the little crawlers which infected young mothers who got examined by students who came with unwashed hands from the autopsies they had done a few minutes earlier? Today antiseptic treatment is standard operating procedure in any hospital. Semmelweis would be amazed about how much has changed.

As always, there is a choice. We can go with the legally approved, have our human issues nicely straightened out and wait until next lifetime to get proper attention to our spiritual "hot spots". Or we can go with a "cutting edge" spiritual thinker and later find out that he was dead wrong and could not help us with our marriage trouble in the least.

There is no replacement for a good balance of conservatism and courage, and for a fine nose which will sniff through the bulk of options until the perfect match is found. Maybe you are the one lucky person who finds a psychiatrist with a spiritual understanding, or maybe you have found the mental trainer who duplicates you so totally that all your troubles fall apart if you only enter his office, and nothing could bother you less than his missing certificate. And of course, a trustworthy personality who will pay genuine attention to you is worth more than anything else.

If you are wise, you put some of your time into the study of books and internet websites. This should tell you after a short while whether you can make a connection with a practitioner or not. There is a lot you can do on your own - for instance, by browsing through our website and having a look at the manuals!

Think "out of the box" and be bold, but not too much. Don't hesitate to correct your opinion if you have made a mistake. Your mental/spiritual condition is the heart of your existence. Any reasonable investment in it will pay off big time.