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Mental health and coaching

Mental Health and Coaching? Breaking Down 4 Common Myths

For many, the word “coach” may evoke images of the friendly teacher who ran you through drills during high school practice. Or it might conjure up visions of a life coach who helps inspire clients to reach their goals using positive affirmations, or a career coach focused solely on work-related challenges.I’ve noticed some common misconceptions about mental health and coaching. Some folks believe coaches are unqualified, or that they use a generic, one-size-fits-all approach with clients.

And while some coaches may fit that description, that is a generalisation. Coaches are specially trained professionals who help their clients develop greater awareness in themselves and implement effective tools to better manage their lives. This type of coaching is designed not only to get you back on track when you’ve lost your way, but to help you create a more rewarding, purpose-driven life.

Below, we debunk some of the top myths about mental health coaches.

Myth #1: A Coach Can’t Help with “Real” Mental Health Issues

While coaches aren’t therapists, they draw on principles and practices from evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

Extensive research backs the use of these interventions in a clinical setting to treat conditions like depression and anxiety. And emerging research on coaches’ use of these techniques for common problems like stress is promising.

Unlike therapists, coaches don’t specialize in treating complex clinical problems. However, they do help clients manage emotions, challenge negative thinking patterns, improve relationship skills, and reduce stress and anxiety — all of which bolsters mental health.

Myth #2: Coaches Aren’t Highly Trained

A common preconceived notion about coaches is that they aren’t highly qualified professionals. In reality, coaches undergo extensive vetting, credentialing, and training. But you must check their credentials- as the profession is still unregulated. A qualified coach must have graduated from a program accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF), one of the most rigorous and renowned professional coaching organizations worldwide.

And just like therapists, coaches are trained to maintain professional boundaries and confidentiality in their relationships with clients.

Myth #3: Coaches Use a One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Another recurring misconception is that coaches rely on generic, one-size-fits-all techniques with clients. But like therapists, coaches rely on well-established codes of ethics plus evidence-based techniques, while tailoring their approaches to best serve each client’s unique needs and circumstances. Much like therapists, coaches listen deeply to their clients to gain an understanding of their personal needs, challenges, and hopes.

Based on each client’s particular set of circumstances, coaches also do the following:

Ask powerful questions. Coaches ask the kinds of questions that help clients see themselves in new ways and open up new avenues for transformation.

They introduce new perspectives and skills to help clients develop evidence-based skills to help them overcome obstacles they’re facing. They also provide a fresh perspective to help their clients reframe their thinking and address problems more effectively.

Myth #4: Seeing a Therapist is Always the Best Option

Mental health is on a spectrum, and psychotherapy may not be the best behavioral health option for your specific needs and challenges. Or, perhaps you met with a therapist previously to better understand the effects of past experiences on your life, and are now in a position to focus more on personal and professional development. While therapy can be a great fit for many people, for others, there are numerous indicators that coaching may be a better match. These include:

The mental and emotional health challenges you’re dealing with are on the mild end of the spectrum.

You prefer a shorter-term approach to personal growth and development.

You want to improve your stress management or work-life balance

You want help in clarifying your values, goals, and purpose.

You’re interested in learning practical, actionable ways to address your personal and professional challenges


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