As people have become more accustomed to owning and having instant and easy access to computers and the web it is becoming increasingly popular to turn to websites for information, help, advice and sources of knowledge. There are online courses,
advice columns, problem pages, agony aunts, relationship experts, life coaches and therapists, all offering to inform you, advise you, support you and help you.

You might be housebound because you are looking after tiny children and cannot get a baby sitter, you might live out in the sticks where there are no people to get to to help you, perhaps you have no transport or you are disabled or agrophobia. It may be that you have none of these problems but are very busy and lacking in time and cannot find the half day it takes to get to and from such a person in real life! Hence websites come into their own because we can look things up and find out facts in an instant with no time and expense or inconvenience to travelling or re-arranging our lives.

What do we expect to get from these sites? I am Beth Shepherd, a relationship expert, therapist and psychic and have worked as a leading full-time professional agony aunt for years. I now know for a fact that almost of the clients who go to someone like me for advice, whether this is face to face or online, are female and most of them are under the age of 25. Many of them are single or dating and are not going through situations like divorce or marriage issues. The usual problems they want help with are long distance relationships, dating a married man, finding out their man is a cheat or unreliable and other similar issues. Some of these girls are very emotional and sensitive with no family or friends to help them - and desperately need the right guidance. Which means that it is an enormous responsibility to not only care about them but to be able to give them sound advice and correct information. Most women under the age of 25 have friends and acquaintances or family they can speak to about things if they simply want to let off steam and they can speak to those people for free.

Some sites offer forums where it is possible to go online and give advice to others in similar situations and in return get their feed back on your situation, but the majority of people suffering from indecision and serious problems need more than that and are determined to consult an expert professional because they realise that support is not the same as accuracy. Unfortunately, it is not legally necessary to be qualified when you offer advice as an agony aunt. It should be but it is not. Even though giving the wrong advice and information can be harmful and upsetting. I set up The Association of Agony Aunts because it is such a huge responsibility and I made sure I was successfully tested by experts, professionals and the Press myself before having the cheek to say that my advice was worth having. But many do not do that. Just as you have people who like to believe they can write, sing, dance, act when they cannot you have people who like to believe they have what it takes to be therapists or an agony aunt.
But this is not a guarantee that they are being honest about it or that they are good enough to listen to.

If someone comes to me for a job as a paid expert and they are not good enough then they do not get in. I do not care how much they are in need of finding a way to earn money from home or bored, that is not the issue. Giving wise advice is far more important. I will only accept people who have been properly trained, if they need training, or have the experience and expertise. I do train up people who have what it takes but need that help to get there. But there is no point if they are simply wanting to do it to suit themselves rather than because they are suited to the job. If someone gets annoyed about being tested to prove their advice is good then you know they are not genuine in their desires to really help.

The best advice column will be one that is run by someone with a lot of experience, who is properly qualified, who has been tested to prove themselves and who you know is not doing it simply because they are bored or because it boosts their ego or because they are desperate to earn a few dollars.

Author's Bio: 

1 2 1 consultations by phone and email. She has been a leading expert for 40 years recommended by the Press, experts, professionals and celebrities.