Comprehending Mental Health
Is mental health a luxury?
What is mental health?
Life-coaching isn’t mental health.
Mental health is both an noun and a verb. It is also how we describe someone’s internal operating system (E-IOS). Ironically, much of mental health has to do with emotions, which are housed in the body. The field of psychology–the cross section of philosophy & biology–is where we learn how to study and treat mental health issues.
An advanced degree in the field of psychology equips an practitioner to better support individuals who have experienced rape, drug addiction, trauma, and those who suffer from mood or personality disorders. I am not a clinical mental health practitioner.
I hold a Masters in Counseling but I am not a clinical counselor not a marriage and family therapist. I am registered as a minister of the Universal Life Church . The purpose of services rendered may prove to be therapeutic but are not intended as therapy; rather as coaching, mentorship or facilitation of personal goals.
A vision-board session with a life-coach doesn’t treat mental illness. Having a better grip on how to schedule your day can be useful to a lot of people but does not help to manage OCD behavior. I can’t say this enough–LIFE COACHING IS NOT THERAPY!
Therapists are held to a code of ethics. The most prominent being that therapists have duty to keep what is shared as confidential unless the client plans on harming themselves or someone else, which then means psychotherapists have a duty to report. We cannot have dual relationships. For instance I couldn’t have my landlord as a client. There’s a long list of ethical guidelines psychotherapists must adhere to including getting supervision. Client privileges rely on the bedrock of ethical practices.
My Bias Towards Untrained Life-Coaches
The billion dollar wellness industry has a virus inside of it. There is a fine line between providing support and reinforcing disease. “Well that’s just your story.” “Do you work.” “Go inside.” Bla bla bla. Defining your goals is a mental act and the primary focus of life coaching. But, when aspects of the field of psychology are co-opted and diluted it opens the door to exacerbate anxiety & depression through subtle layers of comparison.
Humans seek completion. We like homeostasis and when we are not in that state it is due to stress. I can’t speak for everyone but when I see “have a six-figure” coaching program—it makes me feel like shit. Specifics aside, a lot of us are nervous wrecks because of the cycle of coaching programs and self-help garble that has flooded the “wellness” space. The seeking of healing can injure seeker.
Without being too philosophical about it, it comes down to everyone staying in their lane so for the sake of validity. What needs to be treated is actually being treated.
Comparison is the thief of all joy.
Clinical issues: Addiction, Abuse, Anxiety & Depression
Public figure Simon Sinek talks about millennial’s addiction to their phones and has predicted a rise in suicides & depression which we are now seeing. The suicide rate is skyrocketing with a strong correlation to social media as the catalyst.
- Suicide was the second leading cause of death in 2016 among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54.
The issue I have with untrained life coaches is that a sparkly media campaign that talks about Law of Attraction often attracts people who are in crisis. Life coaches are not trained to help people in crisis. The code of ethics specifies that psychotherapists do not practice outside of their scope or field of expertise. Yet, life-coaches, psychics, and healers often violate this ethical code and don’t refer out to a better suited practitioner.
Granted one of the skills the we learn as psychotherapists is the power of actively listening to or clients without an agenda. Is a life-coach able to do that? Yes. But what if that client talks about raping someone, or having been raped, or the intent to harm themselves? Is a “discovery call” where coaches are trained to “focus on the pain point” going to point the client in the right direction? It’s possible. But what often happens is that the life-coach has only a few tools to address a huge systemic issue and are in over their head.
It’s not that every person with a psychology degree is equipped to work with mental health clients. We can only take our clients as far as we have been ourselves. This means that the practitioner must be invested in their own help and healing. We must continue to educate ourselves so that we can know what clients we can and cannot work with.
Mental health is dynamic and cannot be managed by the tools that life-coaches use. This being said, many mental health practitioners choose to refrain from taking a licencing exam and therefore practice counseling under the umbrella of life-coaching.
What does all of this have to do with Mental Health?
The DSM is the primary resource that catalogs mental health disorders and courses of treatment. To paraphrase, a disorder is a set of behaviors that are maladaptive. There are two types of mental health disorders—personality and mood.
Anxiety and depression are the most common mood disorders. Narcissism has gotten a lot of airtime and is the most popularized personality disorder.
Disorders like schizophrenia, where people hear voices, can sometimes result in individuals killing or harming someone else because a “voice” told them to. Individuals who get an advanced degree in psychology such as a PsyD are equipped to treat people with mood and personality disorders. Life-coaches aren’t.
As a person trained as a clinician but who also incorporates psychic information into my sessions, my consent to treat form clearly states:
I understand that the purpose of services rendered may prove to be therapeutic but are not intended as therapy; rather as coaching, mentorship or facilitation of personal goals. I understand that Rebekah holds a Masters from Naropa University but is not a Licenced Psychotherapist but rather a Breakup Specialist who focuses on relationship & addiction issues.
*I am registered as an addiction counselor in the state of California.
What I offer can be labeled counseling or consulting. However, I am not a licenced psychotherapist and operate under the title of Breakup Specialist. Many people with masters have chosen to practice like this for various reasons. People seek spiritual counsel from me and I can consult on addiction issues.
As a client seeking help it is best to distinguish between if he or she needs emotional guidance or if they only need facilitation to achieve a specific goal. If anxiety, depression, addiction or abuse are a factor then working with a person with a Masters or PhD or PsyD in Counseling is the best choice. For a simple pep-talk, life-coaches are better suited.
A Note on the Origins of Life Coaching:
Thomas Leonard, an American financial planner, is generally acknowledged as the first person to develop coaching as a profession in the 1980s and the history of life coaching today really starts with him.
Leonard observed that his clients, though emotionally stable and hardly needing therapy, wanted more from him than just the usual tips on how to invest and safeguard their incomes.
They wanted help in their lives better and planning and achieving their goals.
( Retreaved September 22, 2018: https://www.lifecoachingprofessionally.com/history-of-life-coaching.html)
The Bottom Line of Mental Health
If people cannot afford my services I still offer a free session to make sure a person in need is resourced. I often charge students and past clients a fraction of my listed prices because it is important to me they are properly supported. It is ethically and morally important to me that I direct individuals towards the people that will best support them. What I have to offer isn’t always the best fit.
I also wrote the book Breakup Rehab (available on Amazon.com) to make the tools I share in my spiritually focused private practice accessible to everyone who reads (English). It is not on audio because reading this information is an important part of the therapeutic process.
The point is that therapy is good for what therapy is good for and life-coaching is good for what life-coaching is good for. Ethical practices keep clients safe. It is best to refer people to Psychology Today to find a therapist that takes insurance or best fits their needs. At the end of the day our well-being hinges on who we learn from and making sure we have the correct mentors for our life circumstances.
Thank you & Be Set Free!