How do you find a local helper?
Self-help is not for everyone. Often the best way to get career help is with a professional in your community. A professional helper can evaluate your interests, abilities, and values and help you integrate them so that you can make your best career choice. Professionals can challenge mistaken assumptions as well as provide emotional support and good local information.
Word of mouth tends to be the preferred way to find a professional helper. Ask family, friends, and colleagues if they can recommend someone. If you already have a relationship established with a therapist, your therapist may be able to make a referral to a career specialist. If you are in school or even just thinking of attending a school, you may be able to get career help there for free.
Two kinds of professional helpers have the best training and background for someone making a career choice: career counselors and vocational psychologists. You will find them listed in your telephone yellow pages under a heading like Career & Vocational Counseling. Feel free to interview them over the phone or in person--they should feel comfortable telling you up front about their services and fees.
These days some "professionals" take a two week crash course and then provide services. So it doesn't hurt to ask if the prospective helper is licensed to practice counseling and/or psychology in your state. Ask specifically about their training in counseling and career development. Or call your state licensing agencies to get the names of licensed career professionals in your city.
If the previous suggestions don't connect you with a good helping professional, then I'd recommend contacting your local university. Call their Counseling Center or Career Center (or something similarly named) and ask to speak to the director. Tell him or her that you are a creative person in need of career guidance and ask who they could recommend in private practice.
Look until you find someone you like and trust. If money is an issue, don't hesitate to ask if the helper has a sliding scale or does any pro bono work. There are capable career professionals in most communities who would be glad to assist you with making this very important life decision, one that affects yourself and your family for years to come.