Coaching for Mental Health: Ethical Dilemma or Ethical Development?

Coaching as a Complementary Intervention

The National Service Framework for the care of the mentally vulnerable is undergoing a significant reassessment of its current practice as is evident with projects such as the coordinated primary care team (referred to earlier); and reports such as ‘Strategies for Living’ – “user-led research into peoples strategies for living with mental distress”

The report recommends a holistic approach, aiming to respect the individual and their experience, provide information, offer training, highlight personal living/coping strategies. It actively focuses on self help, delivery of life skills and support initiatives enabling clients to self regulate, recognising that people get themselves well. Appendix 2: NSF.

The premise that we have the solutions to our problems is integral to the Life Coaching model.

It therefore appears an optimal time to introduce Coaching into the expanding complementary provision for the mental health service. A further indication of this opportunity is a pilot partnership between Cornwall Primary Care and CHI : Complementary Health Initiative commencing in Cornwall May 2002.

Coaching is a practical, active partnership respecting each coachee’s individuality, innate abilities and their right to choose their own future; it encourages realistic aspirations. A partnership that supports and challenges for self-responsibility and targets the active learning of skills. It helps “clarify choices, create action plans and monitor results”, Co-active Coaching (p.xix). Coaching’s main remit is to assist with intentional and enforced change, therefore is applicable to everyone. Coaching “is about transformation” and “its ability to make your life better”. C. C.Edwards. The Thirty Minute Life Coach.p.9.

Coaching in practice appears to be the epitome of brevity with its ‘powerful questions’, commitment to the clients’ agenda, active short-term goals and creation of long term vision – in fact the healthy man’s Brief Therapy technique with consistent and extended backup. I accept that coaching is recommended only for the “worried well” but the coaching model already works as a therapeutic tool, helping people to increase physical and mental health and well-being. It supports the process of individual life long learning and changing old inappropriate patterns. Coaching aims to find the strong points, value and increase them; psychotherapy and psychiatry only deals with and so reinforces the weaknesses. Therefore I suggest the use of Coaching as a timely intervention to support and encourage mental good health.

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