DEAR ABBY: In many advice columns it is often suggested to "seek professional help," such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. This is a practical solution, but most often quite expensive, to the point of being prohibitive.
Where else can one turn to find assistance that will be practical, ongoing and cost-effective rather than something that immediately throws up a roadblock to wellness? -- DETOURED BY FINANCES
DEAR DETOURED: Some of these suggestions might be helpful:
(1) Contact a university medical school if there is one in your community, and ask to speak to the Department of Psychiatry. Ask if it has an outpatient clinic. If it does, inquire there. If not, ask if someone on the staff deals with problems like the ones you're experiencing.
(2) If you live in a town with a college, find out if it has a graduate school. If so, does the graduate school have a psychology program and a clinic that charges on a sliding financial scale? If there is no clinic, ask if someone on the staff of the psychology department sees people privately and what's the person's phone number. Then contact that person.
(3) People can get referrals from mental health organizations. The largest credentialed ones are the American Psychological Association, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the National Association of Social Workers. These are legitimate organizations and have professional standards.
(4) You can locate government-funded agencies with psychiatric services by going on the Internet. Some hospitals refer to community service organizations. In any emergency room, you can contact the hospital's outreach to community development programs, as well.