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Mental Health - A-Z of Coaching & Mentoring


A - Z Coaching and Mentoring - This week's extract highlights mental health and the importance of ensuring the coaching relationship is safe and appropriate for all involved. 

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Mental health can be defined as psychological and emotional wellbeing. Many coaches do not hold a licence or have an advanced education to practice in areas of low mental health, which may create an ethical issue when a client presents with poor mental health. Licenced clinicians who also coach, will be more aware of the issues of abandonment, liability, confidentiality and medication.
The boundary between mental health and mental illness isn’t clear, especially for coaches who have no clinical background. In the absence of a diagnosed mental illness, it is important for a coach to have awareness of abnormal or dysfunctional behaviours, low mood, hopelessness, emotional suffering or psychological distress as a starting point.
The responsibility of the coach is to ask themselves whether the coaching is within their limitations, monitor the pitfalls and then take ethical action. The coaching relationship must be safe and appropriate.
Buckley (2010) suggests a four-stage process to help guide a coach in making a decision:
  1. Recognise that some people may have mental health problems that make coaching inappropriate.
  2. Understand the signs and symptoms of mental illness and be able to question the client further when necessary.
  3. Understand the ethical, legal, and professional standards and practices.
  4. Ask “What next?” Continue coaching, stop coaching or refer for medical help?
Counselling or coaching psychology may be more appropriate for some clients. If the coach has concerns regarding schizophrenia, suicide, harm to others, bipolar disorder or dementia, the client should be formally and promptly referred to a health professional.

Taken from the A-Z Coaching Handbook by Clare Smale where you will find a comprehensive A-Z, plus a full list of references.

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