Global trends are taking a toll on physical human interactions, and as governments strive to put COVID-19 in check, the situation continues to worsen. This, coupled with workplace stress, family tensions, and relationship issues, can overwhelm individuals and compromise their mental health, necessitating mental health care.
With successful efforts in battling the mental health stigma, this field is growing, hence the need for more coaches to walk with individuals struggling with their mental wellness. While most countries do not have regulations for this field, knowing the prerequisites is fundamental for a successful mental health coach career.
Here are five things an aspiring mental health coach should know.
1. Understanding Mental Health Vs. Clinical Diagnosis
Mental health coaching is a recent development in the life coaching field, digging into the transformative inner work. While coaching is not therapy, improving a client’s overall well-being for a quality life is essential.
Mental health coaches also offer the tools and understanding that clients need to accomplish personal goals or those set by their counselors and psychologists. Therefore, a coach functions between clinical counselors and life coaches, but never a supplement.
Clinical counselors diagnose and treat patients with mental illness. Life coaches help clients with goal setting, accountability, and success strategies to overcome obstacles. On the other hand, mental health coaches support clients in overcoming nonclinical mental health issues. A mental health coach will walk with their client through their current obstacles to ensure a change in habit for the attainment of short and long-term goals.
Nonclinical mental health issues almost resemble clinical concerns. For instance, anxiety is nonclinical, but generalized anxiety disorder requires a clinical diagnosis. Therefore, as a mental health coach, know your boundaries to ensure confident coaching without venturing into restricted waters.
2. Understand The Roles Of Mental Health Coaching
Like physical health, mental health can vary with a person’s experiences and circumstances. Depending on an individual’s state, whether thriving, surviving, struggling, or in a crisis, coaching will increase their motivation to make changes or put in the effort required to improve their mental health. Mental health coaching, therefore, plays the following roles:
- Management of life transitions
- Prevention of burnouts
- Reduction of anxiety and stress
- Overcoming self-doubt and self-sabotage
- Building resilience
- Resolution of workplace performance issues
- Restoration of work-life balance.
While coaching will not diagnose clients, it can help tackle mental health disorders related to symptoms such as PTSD, addiction, trauma, and depression. Therefore, if your client suffers from mental health conditions, your services are insufficient on their own, and you should refer them to a psychotherapist for diagnosis and treatment.
3. Academic Qualifications, Certifications, And Penetrating The Industry
While you do not need a doctorate for mental health coaching, taking the necessary courses is advisable. You will be dealing with sensitive issues, and the more understanding you have about human behavior, the better you will be at resolving them. Having a relevant course also contributes to the reputation of your practice.
After your initial psychology or related course, consider a certification to get an advantage over other coaches in your niche. You can become a solo practitioner or work for an employer with a certification. Working with an employer as a beginner as you plan for independent practice is advisable. Serving in a corporation ensures a steady paycheck. However, you may trade off your freedom, but this is worthwhile if the pay is competitive. Using your initial months or years to network with other coaches for industry experience is also advisable before venturing into independent practice.
You will get clients to kick-start your practice and grow your business through your networks. Shadow coaching sessions will also be useful for hands-on experience, and as you get more clients, consider building a website to attract clients to yourself.
Past the certification, you should become a lifelong learner, keeping up with the emerging trends to be effective in the practice. The international coaching federation offers the following accreditations that you can pursue:
- Associate Certified Coach (ACC), requiring 60 hours of training plus 100 hours of practical experience to your name.
- Professional Certified Coach (PCC), requiring 125 hours and 500 hours of training and coaching, respectively.
- Master Certified Coach (MCC), requiring 200 hours and 25000 hours of coach training and coaching practice, respectively
4. Skill Requirements For The Job
While you will not diagnose and prescribe medication to your clients, you will significantly affect their mental health. Given the unpredictable and fragile nature of emotional states, mental health coaching requires focus and care, and as an aspiring coach, you should possess skills beyond academic qualifications. These include confidentiality as you will be handling delicate information about your clients.
Being a good communicator is also necessary to improve your client’s mindset. You can build a good rapport by being non-judgmental, listening actively, respectfully curious, and warm in your communication. Finally, exercise patience with your clients who may not progress as expected. Everyone’s path is different, and the best coaches are sensitive to switching gears when necessary.
5. Understand The Market Trends
The mental wellness industry is growing by the day, making it a promising profession for aspiring coaches. While your income stability is key to your career and business success, your salary will also depend on the geographical area, services you offer, and how much you decide to charge in independent practice. Despite the above promises, your passion should drive your focus when venturing into this field. A previous depressing experience could drive your passion or have someone in your life struggling with mental health. The career includes long working hours and difficult conversations, and a passion for the job will see you and your clients find fulfillment.
Embrace Mental Health Coaching
As the mental health stigma continues to fade globally, more individuals are embracing coaching for a more focused and fruitful life. Therefore, if aspiring to venture into this field, understand what the job entails, the skill requirements, qualifications, market trends, and the roles for the job. This way, you will work within your boundaries to meet your client’s needs skillfully and professionally.