Living with long-term health conditions - How coaching can help you find a way forward
Treat's life coach Cathy Eden tells us about how coaching can help people who live with chronic pain and other long-term or complex health conditions.
As a life coach, I support people through life changes and challenges. In addition to this work I also provide a specialist coaching service for people with long term or complex health conditions.
I have lived experience of a long-term health condition and understands the significant impact a change in health can have on a people's mental and physical wellbeing.
For some people who develop health problems, receiving a diagnosis is sometimes just part of a bewildering and isolating journey. They may experience feelings of grief, anger, shame and helplessness when they become ill and may even feel that they are less able to live a fulfilling life because of the changes caused by a decline in health.
Alongside coping with the physical and emotional effects of a long-term health condition, many people feel daunted by having to take responsibility for managing their health through diet and lifestyle changes. In short, it can be hard to live with long-term health conditions.
Diagnosis may help people understand what is happening to their minds and bodies, but it may not support them to deal with the psychological grind of living with symptoms and the change of circumstances that occur when people experience a decline in health. Coaching can help with this.
In my practice, I use traditional coaching tools and the mindfulness-based therapy ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). ACT is an evidence-based practice to help people cope and live well with a range of difficulties in life.
These coaching tools and techniques can help people to:
- develop acceptance so that they can make the most of today
- work on goals and actions that will move them towards the things that matter to them
provide accountability and build motivation
- stay on track and follow guidance from healthcare practitioners (ie diet and exercise treatment plans)
- develop personal ‘toolkits’ of helpful coping skills to manage flare-ups or setbacks and increase resilience and wellbeing.
I recently worked with someone who felt their life had been turned upside down by a significant change in health. They were looking for ways to move forwards and were struggling to make changes to support their recovery.
In our coaching sessions, we spent time exploring the thoughts, feelings and memories associated with their change in health. We developed self compassion and mindfulness skills to support them when their thoughts ‘got in the way’ and made them feel stuck in the struggle. Coaching sessions also were an opportunity for regular check-ins to create a sense of accountability for goals and actions set.
In coaching, they gained perspective and found a safe, non-judgmental space to explore difficult experiences. After coaching, they felt more acceptance around their change in health and that they were more able to plan and enjoy activities that were meaningful to them. Coaching created an opportunity for them to take some positive steps forward.
To find out more about the benefits of coaching support, please visit cathyeden.co.uk
I have a diploma in Resilience Coaching Skills and almost 20 years of experience working in complementary therapies. When I’m not coaching, I work for the NHS, supporting people in their mental health recovery.
I’m a member of the Association for Coaching, the National Council of Integrative Psychotherapists and the Association of Contextual Behavioural Science.
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