Coaching Tips

It’s really all about perspective. And both psychotherapy and coaching can help you shift perspective to a happier, healthier and better functioning-- YOU.

Perhaps you are interested in this idea, but want to know more about it. Maybe you are one of those “strong, silent types” who tends toward self-reliance, despite persistent unhappiness, ineffective work habits or unsuccessful relationships.

Maybe you don’t have much money, or aren’t sure if you have a medical or mental health problem which could require a qualified medical or mental health professional* instead…

*In the absence of substance abuse, which should be treated first, as it affects a person’s baseline functioning and renders the use of therapy or coaching seriously compromised, the following questions can give a guide to the direction you take. In addition, if you have suicidal or homicidal feelings or thoughts, consultation with a licensed mental health practitioner is imperative immediately.

Let me start with a checklist of “symptoms”, or “lifestyle issues” (adapted from the DSM-IV) which trouble you. By answering these questions, you may be able to get a better feel for which direction you might take—psychotherapy-- or coaching --or both…

On a scale from 1-5 please rate yourself on the following: 1=never, 2=rarely, 3=sometimes, 4=often, 5=always

In the past 30 days I have experienced:

1. Appetite disturbance (loss or increase) 2. Sleep disturbance (insomnia or hypersomnia) 3. Loss or increase in energy 4. Loss of self esteem 5. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions 6. Feelings of hopelessness 7. Elevated mood 8. Irritable mood 9. Grandiosity 10. Talkative or pressured speech 11. Racing thoughts 12. Distractibility 13. Pursuit of self destructive actions such as gambling, substance abuse, unprotected sex

Someone has told you that you demonstrate:

1. Delusions 2. Hallucinations 3. Incoherent or idiosyncratic speech patterns 4. Disorganized behavior

You have noticed:

1. Recurrent, intrusive thoughts, impulses, images that you can’t suppress 2. Repetitive behaviors, driven to perform, which you can’t stop 3. Recurrent, disturbing recollections, or dreams of a traumatic event 4. Hyper-vigilance 5. Hyper-avoidance 6. Unexplained memory loss 7. Periods of intense, physically debilitating fears 8. Excessive worry 9. Chronic headaches 10. Chronic abnormal pain 11. Chronic muscle tension

If you score between 85 and 140, or a 4 or 5 on more than 1 question, then I recommend a consultation with a mental health professional to rule out a psychiatric condition.

If you score between 45 and 90, then coaching or work with a qualified mental health practitioner is indicated. Either or both would probably be effective. If you score between 0 and 60, you will certainly benefit from coaching and may also be successful at the self-help route.

In either case, because I have 30 years of mental health experience, I could assist you in making an informed decision, and give a proper referral, if necessary.

For those of you who are interested in coaching, a good place to start is to read the book--Taming Your Gremlin  by Rick Carson. Despite the cutesy title, it offers in-depth, user-friendly and substantive information about techniques and coping skills for managing the universal condition of self sabotage. Rather than viewing self sabotage as an illness or immaturity, Carson gives the perspective that we all experience it, and managing it requires a balance of energy, both positive and negative, like yin and yang, which is fundamentally human.

According to Carson, this sort of self sabotage is simply the counterbalancing opposite of animalistic survival, and it needs to be respected and accepted, rather than railed against as many of us typically do with ourselves. Like in the popular book/DVD, The Secret Carson argues his own version of the Law of Attraction, which states simply that “positive begets positive” and “negative begets negative”—or let’s say—“what goes around comes around”.

While somewhat clichéd and simplistic, these concepts have survived the ages, and probably retain substantial merit as a result. Other ways to retrain and manage ineffective habits, such as addictive behaviors and negative self talk, is through hypnosis.

Simon Edwards, a highly qualified and credentialed hypnotherapist, offers hypnosis CDs and mp3s through his website, These products can be used all by yourself or in consultation with him personally.

Certainly exercise is an integral part of any self improvement program, as it provides structure, routine, cardiovascular strength, and a surge of endorphins—hormones that bathe the brain in a totally natural wash of “feeling good”.      

Meditation and yoga are increasingly popular ways to provide relatively inexpensive and portable means of managing stress and obtaining mental and physical balance.

Beyond that, the multitude of martial arts such as Karate, Tae Kwan Do, Tai Chi and Budokon, among many others, help create a mental, spiritual and physical discipline which integrates and balances mind-body energies.

One last suggestion for someone seeking the self help route, is a book by Julia Cameron, called The Artist's Way. Written by a highly creative woman, recovering from a substance abuse problem of her own, it documents through anecdote and literary references, techniques to hone and develop a lifelong practice of self care, aimed at nurturing the creative and productive potential within all of us. Breathing fully and intentionally is at the foundation of all of these practices. The simple act of oxygenating the cells of the brain and body has enormous implications for the relief of many stress and anxiety related problems. Our bodies are amazing works of art and suppliers of information to us.

Learning the cues, noticing the warning signs built into our limbic systems (fight/flight/fear response), and developing a positive attitude of acceptance, altogether create one of the easiest and most natural states of being. Yet, for many of us, it is the hardest to achieve, thanks to our stress-filled reactions to modern life. I know that life-skill-coaching, which expands upon many of these tips, and developed out of my extensive background in mental health care, will help you reclaim your most natural, pleasurable and productive state of being.

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