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Becoming an Expert in Mental Health Coaching: What Sets Them Apart?
The Role of Mental Health Coaching: What Makes Someone an Expert?
Have you ever considered the benefits of mental health coaching? Wendy Nickerson, PhD, a licensed psychologist and professor of psychology at Calsouthern University, believes that mental health coaching can provide affordable and evidence-based care to patients immediately. With the growing shortage of mental health care providers, mental health coaches are becoming increasingly important in filling this gap.
According to a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), there is a surge in demand for mental health care appointments and new referrals, resulting in waiting lists at an all-time high. This shortage is affecting Americans from coast to coast, and the situation is predicted to worsen in the coming years. In this article, we explore the role of mental health coaching and what it takes to become an expert in this field.
Understanding Mental Health Coaching: What It Is and How It Can Help
Mental health coaching is a relatively new approach to supporting people struggling with mental health challenges. It’s a service that can help you develop a greater sense of self-awareness and learn effective tools to manage life’s difficulties.
According to Shane O’Neil-Hart, LCSW, a senior clinical manager of a mental health coaching program, coaches help clients manage emotions, challenge negative thinking patterns, improve relationship skills, and reduce stress and anxiety.
Melissa Segreto, a registered mental health coach, explains that coaches offer support, listen to their clients, and provide insight into what’s going on beneath the surface. They work with clients to identify their goals, introduce coping strategies, and encourage behavior change.
Here’s a closer look at what mental health coaches do:
- Ask Questions About What You Want Out of Life: Mental health coaches ask insightful questions to help clients identify their goals and see themselves in new ways.
- Introduce Coping Strategies and Skills: Your coach may teach you techniques such as calming your breathing, practicing mindfulness, or trying emotional freedom technique to help you cope with your challenges.
- Help Clients Design Their Life Path and Encourage Behavior Change: Mental health coaches work with you to design your life path and hold you accountable for putting the strategies you learn into practice. They may assign homework after each session to help you stay on track.
As more people seek mental health care, mental health coaching can help fill the growing need for support. If you’re struggling with mental health challenges, working with a mental health coach may help you improve your overall well-being.
Exploring the Differences Between Mental Health Coaches and Other Therapists
Mental health coaches are becoming increasingly popular as people look for new ways to manage their mental health. However, there are distinct differences between coaches and other categories of mental health professionals. Let’s explore these differences in more detail.
Diagnosis and Medication
One of the primary differences between mental health coaches and other types of mental health professionals is their ability to diagnose mental health disorders and prescribe medication. While psychologists, psychiatrists, and other therapists are equipped to diagnose mental health conditions and prescribe medication if needed, coaches cannot do this. If you require an assessment and diagnosis or medication, then you should see a licensed psychiatrist or other mental health professional with advanced training.
Focus on the Present and Future
Another significant difference between mental health coaches and other mental health professionals is their focus. While other therapists may delve into your past and developmental years, coaches concentrate on your present and future goals. According to Melissa Segreto, a registered mental health coach in Ontario, coaches steer away from past discussions and emphasize conversations about what you want to achieve, who you want to become, and where you want your life to go.
Limited Treatment for Complex Clinical Problems
Mental health coaches typically do not specialize in treating complex clinical problems. If you’re dealing with severe mental health issues, such as depression, suicidal thoughts, post-traumatic stress disorder, or trauma from abuse, it’s best to seek treatment from a licensed psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor with more expertise in these areas. Mental health coaches are, however, trained to recognize when a client’s needs are beyond their expertise and refer them to a mental health professional with more advanced training.
Referral and Consultation
Mental health coaches often work alongside other mental health professionals, and their role is complementary to that of a therapist. For example, Lyra Health provides its coaches with ongoing consultation with licensed psychologists to answer questions, prepare referrals, or provide additional resources. This helps to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate form of care. If patients require more specific care or would prefer to work with a therapist, Lyra Health will facilitate the transition and connect them with a therapist.
In conclusion, mental health coaches play an essential role in helping patients develop greater self-awareness and learn effective tools for managing life’s challenges. However, it’s essential to recognize the differences between coaches and other mental health professionals to determine the best type of care for your needs. Mental health coaches can be an excellent starting point for many people, but they are not a substitute for advanced mental healthcare when needed.
Exploring Whether a Mental Health Coach is the Right Fit for You
If you are struggling with mild mental health concerns, a mental health coach may be a good first line of defense, according to Nickerson. They can offer guidance and support, while you wait for an appointment with a clinician for assessment and diagnosis. Some clients continue seeing both a mental health coach and a psychiatrist or psychologist depending on their needs.
Here are some reasons to seek out mental health coaching before or in place of other therapy, according to O’Neil-Hart:
- Mild Mental and Emotional Health Challenges: If the mental and emotional health challenges you’re facing are on the milder end of the spectrum, a mental health coach can provide support and guidance.
- Goal-Oriented Approach: If you prefer a goal-oriented approach that focuses on personal growth and development, a mental health coach may be a good fit for you.
- Stress Management or Work-Life Balance: If you want to improve your stress management or work-life balance, a mental health coach can provide guidance on practical and actionable ways to address these issues.
- Values, Goals, or Life Purpose: If you want help with clarifying your values, goals, or life purpose, a mental health coach can offer support and guidance.
- Practical, Actionable Ways to Address Personal and Professional Challenges: If you are interested in learning practical and actionable ways to address your personal and professional challenges, a mental health coach can provide support and guidance.
- Willingness to Do Homework: If you are willing to do homework, including self-assessments, reading, journaling, or meditating, a mental health coach can help you get to know yourself better and get comfortable in your own skin.
Mental health coaching can help with a wide range of mild to moderate symptoms, including stress, anxiety, perfectionism, burnout, indecisiveness, feeling stuck in life, dealing with the end of a relationship, interpersonal problems, life transitions, and dealing with difficult emotions, such as anger.
However, mental health coaches are not the best option for everyone. They cannot diagnose mental health disorders or prescribe medication. Mental health coaches do not specialize in treating complex clinical problems, such as severe depression, suicidal thoughts, post-traumatic stress disorder, or trauma from abuse. If you are dealing with these issues, it is best to seek out a licensed psychiatrist, psychologist, or another counselor with more expertise.
In summary, mental health coaching is suitable for those looking for guidance and support for mild mental health concerns or who are interested in personal growth and development. If you are struggling with severe mental health issues, it is best to seek out a licensed mental health professional. Mental health coaching can help you gain insight into yourself and where you’d like your life to go, providing you with the tools to build resilience and navigate life’s challenges.
What Qualifications Should Mental Health Coaches Have?
When searching for a mental health coach, it’s important to note that mental health coaching is an unregulated field. As a result, it’s crucial to check on their training, experience, and legitimacy, according to Nickerson.
The Importance of Registration
Nickerson notes that when you’re searching for a mental health coach, make sure they are registered with an organization that is approved by certain bodies, such as the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, the Health Coach Alliance, or the International Coaching Federation (ICF). These organizations have rigorous training programs and ethical standards that coaches must meet to be registered.
No Prerequisites for Mental Health Coaching
There are no prerequisites for mental health coaching, though most people who enroll in Nickerson’s training typically have an undergraduate degree as a baseline, she says. This highlights the importance of doing your research and choosing a coach who has the appropriate experience and training.
Rigorous Vetting and Training
Lyra Health takes credentialing and training of its mental health coaches very seriously, according to O’Neil-Hart. Candidates must have graduated from an ICF-accredited program, and once they’re hired, they must complete a four-month orientation program overseen by a team of psychologists.
Checking Your Coach’s Experience
When looking for a mental health coach, consider their level of experience, the symptoms they specialize in addressing, and the tactics they are trained in teaching. By doing your research and choosing a coach with the appropriate qualifications and experience, you can feel confident in the quality of care you receive.