Depression is a complex mental illness which manifests itself in many different ways. While some people living with depression may struggle to complete everyday tasks such as doing their laundry, others will experience feelings of hopelessness and despair, even if they appear to be taking good care of themselves.
There are many treatments for depression: some are scientifically proven, while the more abstract methods are usually supported by testimonials of those who have used them.
Treatment for mental health conditions comes in all forms. When it comes to treating depression in particular, patients are typically prescribed oral medication as well as talking therapies such as counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in some cases, however, the treatment depends on the patient and the severity of their symptoms.
For some, the treatments prescribed by their GP are not as effective as they would like them to be, and so, they seek alternative treatment options. One such type of therapy considered by people with depression is life coaching sessions.
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Life coaching is a type of one-to-one talk therapy in which a personal coach explores the way in which a client’s mind operates and discusses ways in which they can achieve their goals by improving their view of themselves and changing their mindset to grow into the person they wish to become.
There are several types of life coaching, as well as lots of advice on whether life coaching is a viable option for mental health patients.
How Do You Define Life Coaching?
Life coaching is a practice in which a life coach helps their patients reach their goals in life through regular discussion and by empowering them to move towards their goals with a holistic approach which takes all aspects of the patients’ lives into account.
During sessions, coaches will seek ways to empower their clients to overcome any obstacle standing in the way of their goals. Obstacles can be rooted in the psychology of the client, such as their self-confidence, or they can be related to lifestyle, such as diet, for instance.
Personal coaching (not to be confused with mentoring) is an ongoing, one on one training program in which the life coach works together with their client to work on implementing strategies which will ultimately help the client transform their life and enjoy fulfilment as their attain their personal goals, whether it be in finding a work-life balance or fulfilling their personal strengths and exploring the possibilities of their life as a whole.
There are many reasons that people seek professional help from life coaching, and there are also various styles of life coaching to suit the varying needs of clients.
Here are just a few of the types of coaching you may come across:
- Professional coaching: Professional coaching, also known as career coaching, is aimed at those who want to work their way up the career ladder and advance professionally but need to gain confidence in themselves and their professional skills before they attempt to make the leap. There are lots of professional coaching clients who are also looking for guidance as to how to move forward and succeed in their profession. There are also lots of sub-categories of professional coaching, including leadership coaching, business coaching, executive coaching and corporate coaching.
- Relationship coaching: For those struggling in their long-term relationship or marriage, relationship coaching (which shares similarities with relationship counselling) helps couples address their problems and move on in a positive way. Couples may approach a relationship coach if they are having new issues in their relationship, whereas, if the problems are stemming from past trauma or mental health issues within the couple, counselling may be more appropriate.
- Wellness coaching: Health and wellness coaching covers a broad range of issues, so services may differ from one coach to the next. In general, wellness coaches focus on helping heir clients improve their health, whether they are looking for weight loss coaching, or simply want to eat more healthily and be more active, a wellness coach is there to advise on making lifestyle changes that will help their client enjoy an improved level of physical health in the long term.
The word ‘coaching’ evokes images of athletes being coached in any number of sports. But how is sports coaching relevant to life coaching?
The answer to this question is simple. In sports coaching, there are three types of approach: autocratic (in which the athlete is to obey the training plan laid out by the coach), democratic (in which the athlete and the trainer work together to work towards goals, and laissez-faire (the athlete makes their own decisions and the coach supervises their training). The first two of these approaches, autocratic and democratic coaching, are also present in life coaching.
When looking for a life coach, it’s important to do your research and ask the right questions about each coach’s methods and coaching techniques in order to feel that you are making the right decision for your personal needs.
How Might Coaching Services Help You to Manage Depression?
So, is there a particular approach that is better suited to helping mental health patients cope with their depression? Or is it down to the personal preferences of each client?
There are many uses for life coaching when it comes to improving your self-esteem, getting your life in order and changing your outlook on life in a way that helps you overcome the obstacles standing in the way of your goals.
Depressed individuals often experience feelings of worthlessness, distress, and despair in addition to other symptoms including a lack of motivation and little enjoyment or interest in doing activities they usually enjoy.
It would make sense, then, that the benefits of life coaching may be able to counteract some of the symptoms of depression and help others to get motivated and set goals. Depression can be physically and emotionally tiring, and many of those who live with the condition fall into a constant spiral of mental exhaustion due to the impact that their illness is having on the organisation of their lifestyle.
As a type of talking therapy, life coaching may be beneficial in the way that it helps individuals get to the root of their view of themselves and their lifestyles in order to address the underlying issues.
However, since depression is not to do with someone’s character, personality or level of confidence, but rather, it is a mental illness which varies greatly from person to person, mental health patients who are living with depression should at least seek medical advice from a GP or mental health professional before calling on the help of a life coach.
There are life coaches available who specialise in helping clients overcome their depression. Depression coaching can be used in conjunction with other treatments and may even have the effect of enhancing them. Nevertheless, it’s always wise to seek a professional opinion before opting for depression coaching.
Should You Find a Life Coach if You’re Depressed?
Many people who have depression have exhausted all of the treatment options offered to them by their doctors. For some, life coaching offers a promising alternative to the traditional counselling and talk therapy sessions available on the NHS.
However, when it comes to treating mental illnesses, doctors recommend against using more than one type of talking therapy at one time, as this may complicate things and affect the success of each treatment.
It can be incredibly useful to talk to both your doctor and therapist or counsellor as well as your prospective life coach about the suitability of life coaching for you and your condition.
As medical professionals, doctors, psychologists and therapists are highly trained in the areas of depression and its treatments. In addition, they will have seen many cases of depression, some with conventional treatments, others with alternative options – so asking about the suitability of finding a life coach will not shock them.
Of course, when it comes to your experience of depression, you are the person who knows best, and if you feel that being in regular contact with a life coach will help you better manage your depression and give you a better quality of life, the decision is yours to make – even if your doctor or psychologist advises against it.
Another reason for finding a life coach may be the suspicion of depression. If you have not been formally diagnosed with depression yet you are experiencing symptoms which point to the possibility of depression, it’s best to make an appointment with your GP before thinking about life coaching.
Even though you may feel that your symptoms are mild, getting them checked out by a qualified doctor is essential to preventing them from worsening. A doctor will be able to prescribe treatments which are proven to help with depression, whereas life coaches are not qualified to diagnose or advise on the treatment of such illnesses.
So, what’s the real answer? Can life coaching help with depression?
There are many sides to the arguments for and against hiring a life coach to help with depression, but the main thing to remember is that no to cases of depression are the same, and medical advice should always be sought before starting life coaching for depression.
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