Professional Coaches do not diagnose mental health risks, but they should know what to look for in case there is a need to provide referrals to another health professional, be it a psychologist, therapist, or appropriate coach – for consultation. The following indicators are examples to watch for:
Depression: Clients who are not eating or sleeping in a normal pattern, such as not sleeping or sleeping all of the time, have lost their appetite, or are binge eating, may be showing signs of clinical depression and may need to be referred.
Eating disorders: Clients who have lost a great deal of weight without surgery and/or medication, and continue to do so when advised it will be harmful to their health (anorexia), exercise beyond their normal physical capacity, or continue to gain and/or lose 20-30 pounds without stabilizing their weight may be showing signs of an eating disorder and may need to be referred.
Substance abuse: Clients who display unusual behaviors, such as acting out or violent outbursts, that are uncharacteristic of their usual behaviors may be showing signs of substance abuse, including steroid use, and may need to be referred.
Anxiety disorders: Clients who suffer from panic attacks, claustrophobic behavior, or shortness of breath may be showing signs of anxiety disorder and may need to be referred to their physician.
Honor your Intuitions
If you have a sense that a client should seek further medical attention or needs resources beyond your expertise, respectfully yet candidly express your concern. If the client then chooses not to engage with additional resources, it is recommended that you terminate the coaching relationship until the client has received the appropriate assistance.
Using Other Health Practitioners and Providers
It is valuable to build relationships with highly- respected therapists and therapist groups in your area. Situations may arise where you work with professionals in your network with your client concurrently. You can – and should – then refer clients to professionals whom you know and respect. This may also lead to cross-referrals and a lot of targeted business-building.
If you don’t have the ability to make such a referral directly, always recommend that clients see their primary care coach or provider for a referral (be sure to document the date and time that you make such recommendations in case it comes up later).
If you seek advice about a client that you believe has a mental health problem, be sure to follow the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules (privacy of personal health information), taking full precautions not to share the client’s name or any revealing personal information.
How You Can Help
Become a Certified Holistic Health Coach. Holistic health and well-being are essential to overall life success. Now you can earn a credential and gain the skills to help your clients achieve this success.
The time is now for you to enjoy this exciting and rewarding career, which offers you personal fulfillment while improving the lives of others.
Our programs are open to anyone with a desire to learn and help others. There are no prerequisites.
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