The Role Of Life Coaching In Healthcare

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Ask anyone what comes to mind when they hear the word ‘healthcare.’ Nearly all of them will answer somewhere along the lines of physical health: healthy diets and regular exercise, to name a few. It’s easy to see why this is the case––physical fitness is measurable with metrics like blood pressure and body mass index. Doctors can easily see something wrong if the numbers seem off. 

On the other hand, mental wellness is more challenging to quantify; scores on a personality test or a self-assessment checklist don’t necessarily imply a condition. But make no mistake, it’s as much ‘healthcare’ as physical health because both are inextricably linked. The result is often a vicious cycle: an illness can yield a mental condition, which can worsen that illness.  

Sometimes, physically treating the illness won’t be enough. If the person remains sad after the treatment, there’s a chance that the disease may return. There’s also the need to inspire them to live the rest of their lives well. For this, adequate life coaching has a role to play in healthcare.  

Life-changing motivation 

People coming from a severe health ordeal may find themselves lost. Hearing the grim diagnosis of a chronic illness is no less devastating and will require coming to terms with a different reality that may come after surviving it. One study of limited literature found several instances where disease influenced life choices. 

  • Breast cancer survivors electing to have children 
  • Poor health among couples resulting in divorce 
  • People with eczema choosing to leave their jobs or move to a new one 
  • People living with fibromyalgia refraining from social activities  

(1) 

Life coaching aims to set them straight, as it aims to develop a long-term plan for advancing further in life. If the ordeal results in realizing newfound strengths and weaknesses, life coaches can help think of ways to harness them. If post-chronic disease life is causing undue stress, life coaches can aid in assessing the situation and mitigating it. 

The motivation that life coaches deliver doesn’t necessarily translate to a medical cure, as they aren’t medical practitioners. Because of the valuable insights they contribute, they should have undergone accredited coaching certification. There’s a major difference between just knowing where a troubled person is coming from and fully understanding how their minds work. 

As such, life coaches learn to utilize some approaches and theories when providing life advice. One of these is neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), which will be explained in the following section. 

Language and therapy 

For decades, psychotherapy has been a hit-and-miss affair; some therapies work, others don’t. It becomes more mind-boggling when considering that many theories used in therapies come from the intrinsic principle of the individual facilitating change in a person’s thinking or behavior. (2) 

For NLP, the solution may lie in knowing what guides a client’s perceptions and using the right choice of words to communicate with them. First conceived in the 1970s, this model has seen use in dealing with anxiety and various phobias and improving personal happiness. (2)(3) 

So, exactly what is NLP? The following breakdown of its acronyms best defines it. 

  • Neuro – how states of mind affect communication and behavior 
  • Linguistic – the choice of language reveals a person’s state of mind 
  • Programming – the mind operates on preset values (e.g., habits, beliefs) 

NLP relies on finding unconscious biases in a person’s thinking, notably preference for a feeling or sense, and creating a framework based on those biases. According to one study, when people say something, they usually convey only 7% of the intended meaning. NLP is concerned with the 93% that often goes unnoticed. 

How does all this relate to healthcare and, to an extent, life coaching? There’s reason to believe that life coaches trained in the NLP doctrine can urge people to change any beliefs limiting their ability to live life to the fullest. It explains its widespread use in handling phobias, which hinder everyday life in a way. 

Pursuit of happiness 

Lastly, it’s safe to say that a healthy person makes for a happy person, given that studies show that negativity can impact the body in many ways. One study suggests that psychological stress affects wound recovery among post-surgery patients and are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital. (4) 

It’s in a life coach’s best interest to help a person pursue happiness following any health ordeal. After all, life coaches are the go-to people for those without any idea where to go next.  

Conclusion 

While life coaches aren’t necessarily trained in medicine, the nature of their work shows how integral they are in providing adequate healthcare. Combining medical treatment with valuable life advice moving forward can be effective in building a healthy and happy post-disease life. 

Sources: 

1. “Chronic diseases influence major life changing decisions: a new domain in quality of life research”, Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110968/  

2. “The Structure of Magic: A Book About Language and Therapy”, Source: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1545-5300.1976.265_1.x 

3. “What is NLP and what is it used for?” Source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320368 

4. “The Impact of Psychological Stress on Wound Healing: Methods and Mechanisms”, Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3052954/ 

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