A Research Paper created by Tom Seaman
(Health and Wellness Coach, UNITED STATES)
When it comes to health and wellness in today’s world, there is an increasing emphasis on self care/management. For individuals with a chronic illness, self care/management is often a significantly challenging task. In many cases, merely getting through the day doing basic tasks, let alone additional activities, is a major undertaking. Thus, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be quite challenging for people with chronic illness to do on their own. Studies indicate that the assistance of a life coach, people are better able to set realistic goals they can stick to and adopt into their lifestyle. In addition, Primary Care Practices are finding that the more they teach patients about self care, the more effective patients are able to improve their health. Unfortunately, many of these practices do not have trained staff or the time to spend with patients in a coaching/client relationship. As a result, primary care practices are seeing the need to employ life coaches. This paper will demonstrate the need for life coaches in chronic care situations, the benefits for both individual and professional settings, as well as coaching techniques.
Living with a chronic illness can be a life altering experience. Most people can relate to acute pain or some form of temporary limitation when they are sick, but life offers a whole new set of challenges when the condition is chronic, particularly for those who were once in good health.
While life is ever evolving for each and every one of us, adapting to a life filled with pain (mental and/or physical) and debilitation is a situation that offers additional challenges. Often times, support from an outside source is necessary for learning and applying appropriate coping skills. Research has shown that life coaching is extremely effective in helping those with chronic illness become better equipped with self management skills to live productive lives (Kelly, J., Lindner, H., Menzies, D., Shearer, M., Taylor, S. (2003).
As Louma states (Luoma, J. 2012), humans don’t just have pain; they agonize over their painful memories, uncomfortable emotions, and difficult self-evaluations. They worry about them and engage in all kinds of activities to avoid them. They value feeling better, but they do not merely value feeling better. They value a productive life much more than simply a lack of suffering. People want to feel well and make the best of their time on this earth.
Luoma describes an ideal environment for coaching intervention. Coaches are trained to support individuals in living their life to the fullest and engage in productive activities versus activities that promote solitude and avoidance. Learning how to adapt and accept one’s situation is where a supportive coach plays a significant role.
Living with Chronic Illness
People who are stricken with a chronic illness often ask, “why me?” which is a question that cannot be easily answered and thus, can be cause for grief. Many individuals living with a chronic illness often go through the stages of grief, not unlike a person who has lost a loved one. While it may seem odd to compare chronic illness with death, for individuals who develop a chronic condition (Diabetes, Cancer, Fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s Disease, Dystonia, etc.), they have, for all intents and purposes, lost a part of themselves they once knew so well.
The stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (Wright, J., 2012). Acceptance is one of the greatest challenges for individuals and also one of the most important to achieve for progress to be made towards living an abundant life. Life coaches are incredible resources for helping clients reach the acceptance stage and find meaning and purpose in their lives.