Who should you let inside your head?

Life coaches, counsellors, therapists, business mentors, support coaches – when life gets tough or you simply want to enhance it, today's corporate worker has a plethora of 'professionals' to choose from.

In a world of smoke and mirrors, many of those claiming to have healing powers often have little more skill than a fortune cookie.

Like most things in life, there are those that excel and those that don't, so do your research and ask for referrals. Once you find an effective person to guide you through your life and career, you won't want to let them go.

Life coach

A life coach targets those looking to work on goals, personal growth and wellbeing in their whole life, not just their career.

However, there is no national regulating or governing body.

Anyone can call themselves a life coach, whether they have done a four-week online course or a four-year certificate, so tread carefully.

Life coaches may use a variety of neuro-linguistic programming, hypnosis, counselling, reading and motivation techniques to help clients attain their life goals. Sessions can be undertaken by phone, Skype, email or in person.

Cost: anything from $80 to $250 an hour

Executive coach

An executive coach tends to work with management level employees climbing the career leader. They address challenges at each step, with a focus on managing people.

Executive coaches help clarify problems and support the client to find a solution that works. Many corporations employ executive coaches to work across their management teams. Executive coaches often, but not always, have a degree or history in psychology.

Cost: around $500 per hour for face-to-face meetings

Mentor

Think of a mentor as someone more experienced than you are in a particular area of life.

That area will traditionally be something you are seeking yourself; be it success in your own business or a chosen industry. Mentors offer their time for free and focus on sharing their own knowledge, experiences and connections.

You may find a mentor within your own company or through an organisation you are part of. You might also reach out to someone you admire but haven't met yet.

Cost: free

Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists undergo 11 years of training in order to be accepted as a psychiatric fellow. They will complete a full medical degree plus a 12-month internship. This is followed by three years of basic psychiatry training and another two years of advanced training.

They are authorised to prescribe medications for mental illnesses and also often offer psychotherapy.

Cost: from $200 an hour with some Medicare benefits

Psychologist

In order to have 'psychologist' written on your business card you must first be registered with the Psychology Board of Australia.

The board is the governing body for accountability and psychologists will have traditionally completed a four-year degree with a two-year postgraduate masters. Psychology is then defined by specialty, such as clinical, health, forensic, neuro, community, sports and exercise, organisational, educational and development.

A minimum of two years' supervised practice is expected for accreditation.

Cost: from $90 an hour with some Medicare benefits

Psychotherapist

There is currently no legislation around psychotherapy, which remains an unregulated title. However the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia does have a national register of psychotherapists who have been assessed against an eligibility criteria to an approved level of professional training and ethics.

Be warned: anyone can use the term psychotherapist in their business title. While many will be well trained, others may have only completed a short diploma course or may even be simply a massage therapist or an intuitive person who likes to give.

Cost: from $90 per hour one-on-one

Counsellor

Again, this is not a legislated title. There are both diploma and degree courses available in counselling, but often someone who has a good ear, likes to listen and has a kind heart can call themselves a counsellor.

Counsellors often have a specialty such as relationships, grief, childhood or career.

If trained well they are able to handle emotional events with their clients in an understanding and compassionate way, but may not always have the capacity to handle more difficult mental health challenges.

Cost: anything from $60 to $200 an hour one-on-one