The first thing to appreciate in this regard is that a coach is not a therapist as such, and not clinically trained. However, if appropriately trained, a coach is on hand to help the client become the best person they can be. Ideally, not to just be ok, but to harness all the appropriate mental tools and resources needed to actually thrive in their lives. This process can work perfectly well alongside a client receiving medication to assist with their depression.
Much of what happens when someone is depressed relates to how they’re thinking and feeling. A coach can help a client understand what beliefs are driving these thoughts and feelings and, hopefully, help them come to understand that maybe, just maybe, there might be another way of thinking and feeling. This can be very exciting for the client and achieve a turnaround quite elegantly, assuming the client is well enough to engage and commit to the process – much as an athlete does with their sports coach; they have to commit to work hard and try to appreciate that there may be more than one way to achieve their goal.
As mentioned earlier, beliefs are very important because they influence us so strongly. Sadly, some of the things we believe strongly might actually be harmful to us, or at the very least, unhelpful. And yet we were born with NO Beliefs, so we must come to understand that EVERY belief we have has come from somewhere or someone else! This is key to understanding what is influencing us. Are we in charge of the thoughts that influence us, or do we let others have that power over us? In other words, our thoughts and beliefs may be external and beyond our control, or internal and managed well by ourselves.
Technically, this is to understand where our ‘Locus of Control’ lies. So many people who are struggling to thrive in life are intelligent, sensitive people who have simply found themselves wanting to be IN control (often perfectionists), but who are struggling because they have ceded control of what influences them to unhelpful external beliefs. They can end up believing that their lives are beyond their control, which makes them sad.
So, how can a coach help? The coach is there to help you with your thinking – being curious and gentle but holding you to account in your efforts to review your thoughts and beliefs. A coach will help you to relocate your sense of power & control from external to internal, and encourage you to review and manage unhelpful thinking styles, such as ‘catastrophic’, ‘black & white’, ‘paranoid’ and ‘’perfectionist’- (there are 9 principal styles).
My own background in coaching has come from training over two years to become an NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) Coach. The core belief underpinning this coaching style is that ‘the client is the best expert of themselves’. The coach is there to help clients dig deep, to understand what’s going on in their lives, and to make the changes that will enable them to regain control and start to thrive in the ways they will come to believe they can.
Wishing you renewed mental health for the New Year,
Alan Everett, Life Coach