What does coaching have to do with chronic pain and illness? You may ask this and think “I am suffering, leave me alone.” Or “I have a doctor, what else do I need?”
Coaching is about taking an active roll in improving the quality of your life whether you are sick or well. In coaching, goals are set and plans are made to achieve them. When you are ill or in pain for any extended period of time, that is a chronic situation. In chronic situations we tend to put aside our goals or fail to adjust our goals to our new realities. As the saying goes, “I may be down but I’m not out.” We tend to put the time that we are ill or in pain as a time out from the rest of our living whether that time period is temporary or the rest of our lives.
Coaching can help make the time that we are “down” as “lived” time also. First is figuring out what your needs are. Second is making sure there is a good team behind you, supporting you. That team can include medical staff, family, friends, social services and employers, if you still work. Then it is matching the people to the needs.
Some examples of questions that can come up during coaching include:
Can I still work if there are some accommodation made by my employer?
Do I need to see the doctor every time I need, for example:my blood pressure checked, or are there cheaper alternatives?
How do I prevent becoming isolated because I am no longer working and I can not drive to see my friends?
How do I find someone affordable help do the things I can no longer do?
Are their any support groups for people like me?
Is their some other profession I can look into that would work better with my current level of ability?
What is the appropriate amount of information to give out to family, friends or employers?
What type of self-care can I do to keep my spirits up despite my physical condition(s)?
What do I do if I get conflicting treatment plans from different doctors?
How coaching works is through a process of inquiry, the coach helps the client define goals and objectives. Once that is done, the same process is use to develop plans and processes to accomplish the goals. The answers are within the client and the coach provides questions and support to elicit them.
Being ill or in chronic pain can be a lonely place even if your are surrounded by well meaning family and friends. Though sincere is their wishes to be supportive, they are not objective in their advice and have needs of their own. A coach can help you be the mediator of your new lifestyle whether it is temporary or permanent. Life can still be productive and full!