Life Coaching and Stress Management-Integrative Medicine Modalities for Dealing with Life-Threatening Illnesses
by Jaime R. Carlo-Casellas, Ph.D.
A diagnosis of a life-threatening illness can be frightening, if not devastating. Often, the patient and the family are overwhelmed with the "what ifs" in the past or the "what will happens" in the future-states of mind that hamper well-being and enjoying the exquisiteness and vividness of the present moment.
Stress management and life coaching, are two integrative medicine interventions that can mitigate the distress associated with such illnesses by showing the patient how to let go of or enjoy the pleasant memories of the inextinguishable past and the unpredictable future.
Perhaps because the value of stress management has been validated1, more patients avail themselves of the services of a stress management specialist than those of a life coach, and even fewer2 avail themselves of a combination of both.
According to the International Coach Federation (rCF), life coaching is a partnering with clients in a thought-provoking way, to help the individual define outcomes and plot a plan to decrease the fear, stress, and anxiety associated with a life-threatening illness. In essence, a life coach can help the patient, as well the family, discover the genius within them, laugh more, and move forward in a most remarkable way.
The problem arises when the time comes to select the right coach. This may be because the criteria for recruiting the right life coach are nebulous.
As a guide, the client should investigate the credentials of the coach by alluding to the International Coach Federation3-and organization that serves to protect and serve consumers. The organization assesses and certifies the competence of coaches and inspires the pursuit of continuous development in the profession. For certification, life coaches must clock up to 60 training hours, complete at least 250 supervised coaching hours, pass an exam, and abide by the Code of Ethics of the ICF.
Among other requirements, the Code expects a certified coach to:
• Accurately identify his/her coaching qualifications
• Indicate that he/she is not a psychotherapist counselor, or physician, and refer
the client to other professionals, as needed
• Store or dispose of all records created during coaching-assuring confidentiality,
security, and privacy
• Not take any personat professionat or monetary advantage of the client
• Not become sexually involved with any client
• Not give information or advice that may be misleading or false
In addition to those learning to live with a life-threatening illness, those who seek the services of a life coach and/or a stress-management specialist include individuals suffering from chronic illnesses, including diabetes, heart and lung diseases and high blood pressure, as well as state-of-mind conditions including, unwarranted fears, panic attacks, relationship issues, debilitating stress, including PTSD, behaviorat food, and substance addictions, and intimacy and sexual identity, including gay/lesbian issues.
It is important to note and emphasize that stress management and life coaching are not meant to be substitutes for the care of licensed health-care providers, despite the fact that they can be vital complements to such care. The primary aim of these modalities is to help those striving to live a happier and healthier life-a life well deserved.
Jaime Carlo-Casellas Ph.D. is a Stress Management Specialist, a Certified Life registered Yoga Instructor, and founding director of the Stress Management & Prevention Center in Rancho Mirage, CA.
For more on Jaime Carlo-Casellas, visit www.stressprevention.org.
His book, Chaos & Bliss-A Journey to Happiness, is available at Amazon.com.
1 Begley, Sharon: Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain-How a New Science Reveals our Potential to Transform
Ourselves, Random House, New York, 2007.
2 Author's Personal Observation