Human suffering is difficult to abate. Insight, awareness, the ability to change our behaviour, our thoughts, our actions, or even take responsibility for why we are unhappy in our lives, based on the choices we have made, are some of the greatest challenges we will ever face within our life experience as human beings. These challenges become so overwhelming sometimes that it is normal to feel like we need talk to someone to help us gain clarity of overwhelming situations and circumstances.
However normal this may be, a disturbing trend has emerged. It seems that as the general public, we would never go to an untrained hairdresser, nail technician or even car mechanic, but with our deepest thoughts, our biggest problems, our most desperate time of need, we immediately turnover our trust to someone to solve our problems that is no more trained in the human mind than a check out attendant at a local grocery store. The stigma of addressing mental health issues is dire.
So dire, that the emergence of an un-regulated sector in the United States and in the UK called Life Coaching has been born in the last decade. Seeking services for our mental health issues has now morphed into a culture marred by the stigma of therapy, and the public now seek out Life Coaches instead of trained experts such as Psychologists, Marriage and Family Therapists or Mental Health Counsellors as a result. The issues sought in Life Coaching include, but are not limited to relationship problems, career dissatisfaction, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, behavioural problems in children to bereavement and even thoughts of suicide.
Did you know that the majority of Life Coaches have no clinical training and can easily receive their Life Coaching certification from as little as a weekend course given by someone that is also not clinically trained? Notwithstanding, there are a small number of Life Coaches that have excellent clinical training. They will have a Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology or a Master’s Degrees in Social Work, Mental Health Counselling or Marriage and Family Therapy. If they do not hold graduate (Master's level) degrees in these areas they do not have adequate clinical training. In addition, all of these specific degrees require thousands of hours of supervised training with direct client contact, rigorous licensing exam requirements to ensure the clinician is versed in the complexities of the human mind and human behaviour and can successfully help a client get to the the root of their issues and find resolution successfully.
There is a misconception that mental health industry cannot help you. I have met many a client in an intake interview that walks in with the attitude "You can’t help me!". But I challenge any person with this attitude to then walk in to a Life Coach. Can the untrained, clinically uneducated Life Coach help more than the trained mental health clinician? You decide.
The next time you are dealing with a mental health issue that you feel you need to seek assistance for, please research the person you are seeking help from. How much clinical training did they receive in which a supervisor monitored their ability to counsel clients, what type of clients do they work with, how do they know they are succeeding with their clients? Recognize and be aware of your own prejudice of seeking out a mental health clinician verses a clinically uneducated Life Coach.
Lastly, ask yourself; are there other areas of your life that you demand a minimal standard of training? Do you demand that your children teachers be trained in their field, your electrician to be licensed, a plumber to have a standard of credentials ? If this is the case, then for the most precious of all things, your mind, trust it to someone that cared enough about you to dedicate themselves to many years of demanding training just to make sure they could guide you in the right direction. Make an informed decision, not one clouded in stigma. If you have to choose a Life Coach, choose one that has extensive history of dedication, at least a master's level education and experience dealing with the human mind and human behaviour.