There are many folk offering life coaching, but it is only by engaging a trained and registered psychologist that you can be assured of scientifically proven (or “evidence-based”) techniques and training, says Loganholme Psychologist Abra Garfield …
When your life coach is a psychologist, you benefit from the help of a highly trained professional to transform your dreams and life ambitions into tangible actionable steps and processes.
Part of the process will include setting up structures to help you access success and fulfillment, and equipping you to overcome the inevitable real-life and mental barriers along the way.
Is Life Coaching for me?
Life Coaching by a psychologist can benefit a vast range of people with variety of challenges, from high school and university students struggling with new sets of responsibilities, to people recently retired and looking for ways to enrich their day-to-day life.
It can also be incredibly useful to job-seekers and people wishing to improve their occupational life and daily work processes, such as time management, presentation/interview preparation, and goal-setting.
Life Coaching is about improving the richness and direction of your life, through personal reflection and personal development with the support of a trained psychology professional.
There are many life skills that a psychologist can help you develop in life coaching:
- Time Management – Learn techniques to organise your time and responsibilities efficiently on paper or computer/phone so you can create time for the things you enjoy doing most.
- Sleep, Nutrition, and Exercise – Get advice and support with making cost effective lifestyle changes crucial to emotional balance, health, and positive energy levels.
- Manage the Work-Life balance – Define your values and time accordingly to make sure that the things most important to you (relationships, personal development, sport, etc.) are progressing in parallel with the day-to-day work load. This not only helps to foster self-esteem and social support, it also helps to keep the big picture in perspective and set boundaries when work attempts to dominate your life.
- Job Seeking and Job Keeping skills – Prepare for interviews, CV/cover letter check, occupation transition and counselling for workplace challenges, phone and presentation skills including reducing anxiety. Job keeping skills include communication skills, conflict resolution, stress management, etc.
The job seeking experience can be stressful and negative with rejection, boredom and uncertainty all coupled with anxiety-provoking phone calls and interviews – and it may not always result in a suitable employment situation.
This can be taxing on your emotions, self-esteem, and worldview. Managing the transition into work can present new and unexpected stressors and pressures, that also lead to psychological distress. This can affect your performance at work and your workplace relations. Counselling and skills training can improve this experience and increase your confidence in your ability to succeed, through:
- Building Confidence, motivation and focus – By utilising techniques used in education and sport psychology, your self image, drive, enjoyment, and direction in life can be enhanced.
- Stress management – We experience stress when we interpret our psychological coping skills to be insufficient or outweighed in some way by our life challenges. This can be overwhelming and lead to anxiety and emotional imbalance, interfering with daily functioning. Stress management skills include coping strategies such as relaxation and emotion regulation. It also includes life skills such as time management, exercise routine and other behavioural skills to keep a balanced lifestyle.
- Emotion regulation – Anxiety, depression, anger and other negative emotions can sometime seem to control our thoughts, outlook, self-esteem and behaviour. Having a toolkit of emotion regulation strategies such as music, imagery, self-talk, mindfulness, relaxation and exercise, can allow you to become more aware of your emotions and how they influence you – and become more confident that you can influence them in daily life.
- Communication and assertiveness training – Clear communication and confidence in your interpersonal interactions can have a huge benefit to social and occupational functioning, self-esteem, and successful life processes (reaching your goals, sharing love, overcoming conflict). Communication and public speaking training based on education and sport coaching can help any individual to improve their ability to articulate messages clearly in a variety of settings.
- Managing unhelpful thought processes – Does your mind ever dish up thoughts that suck you away from the present moment and cause you psychological distress? Do thoughts ever seem to rule your actions, reducing your ability to do the things you enjoy, with the people you enjoy being with? Thoughts like judgments and worries about the world, other people, yourself, your past, and your future can become habits. This can be disruptive to daily functioning if you buy into these thoughts as if they represent reality perfectly. Our minds dish out an endless supply of thoughts, distracting us from the present moment and sometimes reducing our ability to function optimally.
Our ancient ancestors lived in a world where the mind needed to be alert to physical threat, attuned to problem solving and making accurate judgments of the physical world (like safe food choices). This survival programming is obviously designed for a good purpose, but it is designed for a different kind of world. We have adapted into a very intellectual species through language and social order, and have become somewhat safeguarded from the physical threats of the past. But this survival system inevitably still runs in our mind, influencing thought with information on threat (to the physical body and ego/self-image), problems, and black and white judgments about our world, ourselves and other people.
However, several techniques can help to reduce the influence of unworkable thinking pattern on our emotions and our actions. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is very effective at identifying and reducing or replacing thoughts and unworkable behaviour.
Mindfulness-based techniques are also effective at reducing the struggle we have with thoughts, and the idea that thoughts and feelings define who we are. Through mindfulness comes the emergence of the “observing self”, or increased self-awareness and the ability to step back from thoughts and view them as passing experiences without getting attached to them. This reduces the influence of unworkable thoughts on emotions and behaviour.
Goal Setting for Success
- Defining your values – what kind of person do you want to be moment-to-moment?
- Defining your goals – what outcomes would you like to work towards?
- Defining your everyday effort process based on “controllables” – what intentions do you have this week, what resources, plans?
- Putting in place systems to monitor your success and gains – how to efficiently track life changes in relation to your values and goals, and reward movement towards a more meaningful rich life.
- Addressing barriers to reaching goals, making adjustments – evaluate goals, values, strategies, effort, and life circumstances.
If you want to make some changes in your life, and give yourself the very best chance of success, I invite you to make an appointment to discuss life coaching and how it might work for you.
Author: Abra Garfield, BPsych, MPsych (sport & exercise), MAPS; Medicare ATAPS provider.
Abra Garfield is an endorsed Sport and Performance Psychologist, with a passion for helping others to achieve optimal performance whether on the sports field, in the classroom, home or office. By drawing on a range of therapeutic techniques including Mindfulness, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Motivational Interviewing, Abra helps many people with goal setting, motivation, and overcoming anxiety.
Abra is the Principal Sport Psychologist and founder of Summit Performance Psychology. Visit the Summit Performance Psychology website to learn more or like us on Facebook to receive Summit Performance Psychology Articles and event updates.
Psychologist Abra Garfield has moved.
Find his details on his website: Summit Sport & Performance Psychology.