One of the trickiest distinctions in the coaching industry is between coaching and mental health services. Coaching is never clinical mental health care — even when it’s mental health coaching.
While coaching isn’t therapy, a great mental health coach will most definitely improve their client’s well-being. This article explores what a mental health coach is, distinguishing it from other healthcare professions to help you find the best career path.
What’s a mental health coach?
Mental health coaches motivate their clients, empowering them to make changes that will improve their daily lives. They provide the tools and understanding necessary for clients to accomplish personal goals or those set by other health professionals like psychologists or counselors.
These professionals will have some understanding of human psychology to ensure they can help their clients. A mental health and wellness coach will typically train in topics such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).
Mental health coaches versus therapists
Mental health coaches supplement therapy — they’re not an alternative. Here are a few important ways of differentiating between these mental health services:
- Time: Coaches help clients face current obstacles and make habit changes to help them obtain short and long-term goals. Therapists help clients unpack their past and attain a deep understanding of their behavior.
- Medication: Mental health coaches never prescribe medicine, but psychiatrists do and psychologists can refer clients to psychiatrists for medication.
- Diagnoses: Even if coaches recognize a mental illness in their clients, they cannot diagnose it. Therapists make diagnoses and suggest treatment plans.
How mental health coaches help
Coaching is great for anyone needing increased motivation to make the changes and do the hard work necessary to improve their mental well-being. Here are some examples of issues a mental health coach can help their clients with:
- Self-care habit creation
- Task prioritization
- Career success
- Stress management
- Narrative reframing
- Communication skills improvement
While coaches can’t diagnose clients, they can help them tackle symptoms associated with mental health disorders such as:
If your client has a mental health condition and isn't seeing a therapist, don’t consider your services sufficient. Offer a referral to a psychotherapist to ensure they’re properly diagnosed and treated.
Becoming a mental health coach
While a doctorate isn’t necessary, getting a psychology degree is recommended. You’ll be dealing with sensitive issues, so the more you understand about human behavior the better. Having a relevant degree also makes your practice appear more reputable.
Mental health coaches can also attain coaching certifications to ensure they have the skills necessary to coach effectively. Here are a few institutions that offer certification programs:
Before practicing independently, network with coaches in your area to learn more about the industry. If possible, shadow coaching sessions to gain hands-on experience.
Once you’ve received your education, training, and credentials, it’s time to set up your coaching business. Write a comprehensive business plan detailing your services and how you’ll market them, your target audience, and your financial goals. Then, register your business and start taking clients.
Mental health professionals do intense work, so accept a smaller workload while you get the hang of things, scaling as you become more comfortable.
Considering the numbers
The mental wellness industry is booming, so this is a promising profession to pursue. The U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics estimates a 22% growth rate for all careers that fall under the heading of Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors and a 12% growth rate for Health Education Specialists and Community Health Workers.
While income stability will depend on the success of your business, mental health coach salary expectations are promising. ZipRecruiter averages the salary at $68,000, with the cap being $142,000. Your salary will depend on several factors, including your geographical area, the services you offer, and how much you decide to charge.
Even though the industry looks promising and there’s money to be made, we recommend pursuing this career because you’re passionate about it. Perhaps you’ve suffered from depression in the past, or you know somebody who struggles with their mental health. Whatever the reason, this is intense work that involves long days and difficult conversations. Both you and your clients will have a more satisfying experience if you find coaching fulfilling.
Performing sensitive work
Even if you’re not diagnosing and medicating clients, you significantly impact their mental health. And emotional states can be unpredictable and fragile. This is sensitive work that requires focus and care.
Confidentiality is also critical in this profession. A good customer relationship management (CRM) system will store client data safely, so you don’t have to worry about delicate information becoming compromised. Try our platform today and streamline your business processes while alleviating cyber-breach concerns.