Teaching mental health providers how to navigate the managed care industry and increase cash flow

Coaching: When to Refer to a Therapist

Posted by on May 28, 2013 in Addiction, Coaching, Depression, Mood, Psychotherapy, Refer, Trauma | 0 comments

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Let me start by saying coaching is not therapy. They have similar qualities and use similar techniques. But when you dig deeper, coaching and therapy serve different purposes.

When someone is in therapy, he is usually dealing with some past trauma or a current crisis that requires professional attention in order to gain mental stability. Depending on the person’s diagnosis, he may even require the use of medications to maintain stability.
Coaching serves a different purpose. Coaching does not focus on dealing with past traumas or crises. The typical coaching client is looking to tweak certain areas of his life to make it to the next level. 
When you are coaching a client, you may notice some things that may need to be addressed, but are outside of your scope as a coach. So here are some situations in which it is advisable to refer to a therapist. 
1. Past history of trauma – If your client reveals a past history of trauma or abuse and you suspect that it’s impeding progress, by all means refer to a therapist. It’s not your job as the coach to try to help them through the trauma. There are specialized techniques for this type of work. 
2. Unstable mood – It’s one thing to feel down every once in awhile. It’s another if you’re noticing constant mood swings in your client. There may be an undiagnosed mental illness that needs to be addressed. And most coaches aren’t trained mental health professionals. 
3. Addiction – Dealing with addiction takes a special set of skills. I’m a licensed psychotherapist and even I refer out if the person has issues with addiction. 
4. Depression – If you notice your client has been appearing more depressed than usual or begins expressing a desire to no longer be alive, definitely refer to a therapist. If the client mentions that he wants to commit suicide, call for help. 
There may be other situations that arise that are best suited for therapy. When in doubt confer with a therapist at the very least. 
Side note: Since I am also a mental health professional, for ethical reasons I avoid entering into a dual relationship with my clients. If I am seeing a client for coaching and I notice that there may be some mental health issues that need to be addressed, I will refer to another therapist. 
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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