Research Paper By Xenia Knapp
(Millennial Coach, GERMANY)
Suicide and depressions get more common in our society.
Suicide increased up to 25 percent since 1999 in the US due to research done by the CDC and depressions are globally increased by up to 4% due to data from 2016.
There are many advantages of the last centuries that influence this alarming trend: The fast-paced society, digitalization, and globalization, just to name a few.
Humankind gets overwhelmed and forgets to focus on the most important thing, connecting with themselves and stay true to their true self.
If our peers, our colleagues or our family members got depression and suicide thoughts the common treatment is anti-depression and a therapist.
But over the past years, experts get to the conclusion that existential crises are the base. They lead to existential depressions. More and more depressions are rooted in a leak of existential meaning.
With this new assumption, there are new possibilities. One thing can be to use Coaching as a prevention tool to work with people before they get into this crisis or if they are at the beginning of this crisis can be a way to reduce this trend. With this prevention method, depression and suicide can be decreased, for these, that is rooted in existential crises.
An existential crisis is a form of psychological crisis, some say it is also a spiritual crisis.
A psychological crisis a mental state of a person in which this person deals with certain life obstacles.
A spiritual crisis is based on a change of basic values or belief systems of a person.
Specifics for an existential crisis are the inner conflict of someone about, for example, their life purpose, their direction and/or spirituality. It is a search for identity.
The crisis can have obvious triggers (divorce, death,…) or can be seen within changes of behavior or mood.
For most people, a crisis is a chance for positive change and growth. People learn and grow from this crisis. However, not everyone comes out oft he crisis stronger and on their own.
Some people go down the loop to an existential depression that can lead to suicide.
To understand this kind of crisis better we have to have look at the theory of existentialism. This theory is a philosophy, based on the idea that life is what we make it. Humans have to live their life their own meaning.
The two main principles are the believes that on one hand the existence itself has no meaning and on the other hand that humans have the freedom of choice to make their life what they want.
As a result, humans have personal responsibility and choice, to create the existence they want to have.
According to experts, people in existential crises have a leak of meaning in their life. This leads to psychological vulnerability. This means, that this vulnerability is the base for the crisis.
If the crises lead to depression, common therapy is the use of drugs and psychological treatment, like seeing a therapist.
In this therapy, the search for the meaning starts. This helps people to focus on their possibilities, search for your passion, accept yourself and others and accept life as a journey that comes out of our of this crisis or even depressions.
Coaching as prevention
In many areas of our life, we already realized that we do not need to wait until something happens to start acting. We know that eating healthy and doing sports on a regular basis can prevent illness. For psychological topics, we already know that exercising is also an important factor, as well as reducing stress. More and more people start meditating and try to live a mindful life.
The idea of prevention is applying to a lot of fields nowadays.
Coaching can be a prevention tool in the field of mental illness, especially in the prevention of existential crises.
Coaching is based on the assumption, that the client has all the answers inside and that the client can take actions to create the life they want. Coaching supports their client to stop living on autopilot and stepping into a self-driven and mindful life.
With the support of a coach, people can get out of stuck situations and are able to adept new ways of thinking as well as new ways of living.
If we compare these principles to the idea of existentialism we can find a lot of similarities. Both ideas are based on the free choice of humans and the thought of personal responsibility. Humans have to decide by themselves which meaning they give their life and being responsible for their choices.
The search for meaning which is the base for the therapy of existential crises and depressions is something that lies in the roots of coaching as well.
Coaching is a way to help people to get out of or even never go into the psychological vulnerability that causes existential crises.
Therefore, coaching can and should be used as a prevention to support people before they are in existential depressions. Coaching is the way to support people before and during crises. The search for meaning that takes place in the work with a therapist can be done way before someone is in depressions.
By connecting, people with themself and their potential humankind can reach another level of happiness and will be prevented from an existential crisis. Even if people start with this at the beginning of a crisis it can help to get out of this loop before someone is down the road of having depressions.
To prevent people from existential crises or even depression there needs to be fundamental work about connecting the client with themselves first. After setting this base there is a need to be a regular check-in about this connection and possible changes about themselves.
This situation can be compared with a house. It takes time to build a house. After this building phase it needs to be renovated, some things need to be fixed or rebuild. Sometimes people extend things, build a pool in the garden or paint it in a different color.
The whole prevention process can be done with the support of a coach. But the phase of “building the house“ is the one in which the support of a coach is most important. This part is the most difficult and intense.
The “building” phase can be split into three different parts. These parts are “be free”, “be enough” and “be your true self”.
“Be free” and “be enough” is the foundation for the house, to stay with this metaphor.
The part of “be free” is meant to set the client free of the values, beliefs, and emotions that are not really their own. Many people live a life created by the ideas of others. They create a life based on values, belief and emotions that they think are their own, but they are created by society and our environment.
For example, someone starts a career with the goal to gain status and money. This person is doing this because society and their family tell them this is the thing to go for. There are two possible outcomes. First, the person fails in the approach to be successful in this career due to the fact that this is not what this person really wants deep down inside. The second one is, that this person succeeds but isn’t happy due to the same reason, because it’s not what this person wants deep inside.
As a coach, we need to support our clients to find what keeps the client prisoner in their own lives and to be free, to build their own measuring system.
The second part is “be enough”. With this part, the client gets empowered to find their strength, basic values, and uniqueness.
A lot of people are not aware of their true potential and who they really are. The coach needs to support the client in a way that focuses on their positive tributes. Finding and building something for their own is really important for the client. Building something for their own can simply be the basic values or figuring out their unique combination of potential. Another aspect is to help the client not to focus on what they are not and rather focus on who they are, even or especially if they are different than others.
Based on this foundation the construction of the house can start. The client starts now with the support of the coach to “be your true self”. Based on their own potential, values, and emotions the client can find a way to use their strength and uniqueness to build their dream life. In this “construction” part the focus shifts from the main inner work to get more parts of outgoing action.
All of this will set the client in a place of adjusting their own meaning to their life and getting out of the psychological vulnerability. The client focuses on their possibilities, find their passion and learns to accept themselves and others.
The coach needs to find the areas in which the client needs the most support. Everyone is different. In coaching as well as in therapy we work with individuals. Everyone is on a different stage in life and on a different level of connection with themselves. Especially, in the foundation “be free” and “be enough” the coach hast to get a status quo where the client stands before the actual work can start. Not everyone will need the whole spectrum of coaching in both of these areas.
After this building process, a regular check-up is needed. People change, life changes, we get new opportunities. This means that the results of this coaching journey will not be the end. Life is a journey itself and therefor working on ourselves is a journey. The client will figure out that in this journey things change for them, this is normal. This is one reason for checking in, to realize if something changes and adjust it. With this in mind, the client can accept life as a journey and live it this way
With this foundation, the client can maybe continue working by themselves. Maybe the client needs a coach every now and then, maybe the client needs different coaches for different stages. It is up to the client.
This prevention will never be over. But that is the case with every prevention. The work needs to be done consistently to help.
As can be seen, all the aspects that are a part of the therapy work with patients that have existential depressions are covert in the prevention process by coaching.
Based on the existential theory existential crisis and depressions are rooted in the leak of meaning. With the basic ideas of the theory in mind, people have free choice and the duty to give their life meaning.
By supporting clients to work on the topics that are covered in the psychological therapy with the idea of making them free and enough to build their dream life with the support of coaching can be used as a prevention tool.
The coaching shifts the focus on their possibilities, their passion, the acceptance of themself and others and accepts life as a journey to get our of this crisis or even depressions.
This tool can not only stop or limit existential crises and depression but can also make people happier and satisfied with their life.
The most important thing in this prevention is the consistency in connection or reconnection with ourselves.
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