If you, your partner, or both of you are working through a mental illness diagnosis and considering working with a coach, know that a coach does not provide counseling or psychotherapy unless individually licensed to do so. However, if you already have a strong relationship with a counselor or other mental health professional, then a life or personal development coach could be of added value in your mental health management and healing process.
Our society still pushes mental illness to the margins as taboo. Even discussing it is difficult for many with an outsider perspective. This can force those experiencing it themselves (or those supporting a partner experiencing it) to feel isolated and without resources. Knowing that a mental health professional and a coach are there to provide multiple levels of support is an important structure to consider when working with mental illness in any capacity.
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The first step, no matter what severity or type of mental illness, is to seek support from a mental health professional. Whether that is in the capacity of licensed counselor, psychologist or medical mental health professional, taking this initiative is key. This can also be the most difficult step. It can be hard to overcome the first challenge of seeking help. Once you make that step for yourself (or with your partner), a plan to manage mental health can be put in place with the expertise of a mental health professional. Once the mental health plan is in place, a life coach can also be a great partner in the healing process.
An Accountability Partner
One aspect of coaching can include playing the role of supportive accountability partner. An example I can provide from my work with clients is that I support the healing process by scheduling weekly check-ins. When serving in the role of accountability partner for a client, I work with them to develop weekly points of progress. This could be as simple as a "Go-To List" of reminders for when things get tough to handle. This list can be referred to when challenges get in the way. Then, at the scheduled weekly check-in, we work together to reflect on progress and focus on moving forward — not just on the challenges.
Goal Development and Evolution
No matter the situation, goals are of utmost importance to create progress. A coach can be an effective resource in developing additional goals (secondary to those set by a mental health professional) to support mental wellness. These goals can serve as inspiration for moving forward in the healing process by serving as affirmations of progress when challenged.
Developing a Personal Mission Strategy
I have taken the "Go-To List" strategy, as well as the goals of clients, and incorporated them into a personal mission strategy. This is developed over a short period of time and can be displayed in a prominent area for the individual or couple. Mental illness doesn't take a day off, so neither should management and healing. The personal mission strategy is a consistent reminder that there is a plan in place to fall back on when challenges overwhelm.
Again, I stress that adding a coach to your healing and management of mental illness can be helpful, but only after help from a mental health professional is solidified. All great coaches will refer clients they feel are in need of more in-depth mental health care, and will want to work in collaboration with the care provided there first.
A coach is there to support the client by providing space for them to explore their own path of success. It is important to remember that despite what society puts forth, you are not alone. There are many coaches with tons of talent and resources who can support your mental wellness in addition to your counselor, psychologist, or medical mental health professional. Seek a coach to support your progress and explore your best self.
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