Life Coaching: Healing and Wellness through the Use of Self-Care Practices

The Life Coaching program is a joint collaboration between Mental Health Connecticut (MHC) and the Contract Unit at Southwest Connecticut Mental Health Systems (SWCMHS). The following program description reviews the focus and approach that the Life Coaching Program has adopted in order to be increasingly aligned with the values of recovery-oriented, person-centered care that promote self-determination and personal choice. Additionally, life coaching has been designed to provide a range of wellness activities different from the more traditional case management interventions. If individuals or providers are looking for supplemental case management support for persons living in their own residence, it is recommended that a SWCMHS/DMHAS universal application be completed requesting either MHC or Recovery Network of Programs (RNP) residential scattered site/supported services as opposed to Life Coaching.

Life Coaching Program Philosophy
Wellness involves both emotional and physical wellbeing and is significantly impacted by our lifestyle choices and the stress involved in our daily lives. The goal of life coaching services is to promote self-care skills by offering natural wellness and healing activities that focus on nutrition and healthy eating, sleep hygiene, breath work, meditation and mindfulness practices, physical activity, creating a safe and supportive living environment, and fostering connection and a sense of belonging to improve mood and health.

A person’s daily habits and the interplay of their lifestyle choices are the cornerstones of a person’s emotional and physical health. There is a growing body of evidence that the way we eat, move, think, sleep, and connect with others impact chronic health and mental health issues.

The perspective of the Life Coaching initiative is that there are natural self-care skills and strategies that people can learn and incorporate into their everyday lives that can both enhance and promote their recovery. Life coaching is meant to serve as a complement to other clinical and case management services while offering participants information, opportunities to develop new skills, and natural venues for changing everyday habits and building people’s self-care practices.

Life Coaching Program Description
The program will offer life coaching in both an individual and group format. Individuals may apply to be part of the program by submitting a SWCMHS/DMHAS universal application. Once an application and clinical package is received by the SWCMHS Contracts Unit, the referral will be forwarded to MHC Life Coaching Supervisor who in partnership with one of the program’s coaches will contact the applicant to do an initial screening and assessment of the applicant’s Life Goals and Life Coaching interests.

In addition to individual life coaching, the program will also be offering a variety of wellness activities in a group format which will be determined based upon participant interest, seasonal considerations and will utilize natural wellness and healing modalities without focusing on symptoms or clinical plans. A person’s Life Coach will act as an ambassador to the various wellness offerings described below by introducing and talking about the potential benefits of each program vis-à-vis the person’s wellness goals, and if it would be helpful, even attending a program activity with a person till they are comfortable with the activity and individuals involved. Each month the MHC Life Coaching Supervisor will create a detailed calendar of wellness activities being offered. It will include the location and date of the activities are being held. For additional information or questions regarding the Life Coaching program or activities, you can reach out to Donna Kaine, Bridgeport Director of Residential Services at 203-365-8444 or dkaine@mhconn.org or the Program Coordinator Da’Jah Bradshaw at dbradshaw@mhconn.org.

The initial curriculum of wellness activities that will be offered include:

    Gardening, Recovery, and Opportunities for Wellness (GROW) – The GROW program is designed as a skill building and wellness program that grows healthy foods. Program participants gain the therapeutic benefits of gardening and healthy eating while producing fresh vegetables, herbs and plants and learning to use what they grow as part of their daily meal planning. The program focuses on healthy eating and nutritional issues, teaches the farm to supermarket process, provides opportunities for social connection, and a chance for participants to raise and care for another living thing. For a more complete description of the GROW program and its potential benefits, please contact lmossberg@mhconn.org or visit www.mhconn.org/GROW for more information.

    Mending Arts – Mending Art is one of a variety of programs that helps our program participants learn new skills, engage in the community, and find and utilize creative outlets of expression. Participants learn to express themselves through the medium of their choice, and are given the opportunity to share their work with fellow artists. Numerous studies and research prove how art is linked to wellness and recovery. For many living with a mental health condition, Mending Art has been a stepping stone towards rejoining the workforce, going back to school, reconnecting with family and friends, and becoming active in the community. For more information on the Mending Arts program, please contact asmith@mhconn.org or visit www.mhconn.org/mendingart.

    Write On! – Write On! is designed for individuals who want to find their voice and share their truth through the healing power of writing and storytelling. Participants leave Write On! with writing and storytelling skills, new ways to cope during times of emotional distress, and the confidence to share their story in a way that demystifies mental illness and ends stigma in their community. For more information, contact rkyek@mhconn.org or visit www.mhconn.org/writeon.

    Additional Recreational Activities – Recreational activities help manage stress and often introduce participants to new and interesting leisure time activities. It provides a chance to nurture oneself and provides a sense of balance and self-esteem. It provides a channel for releasing tension and anxiety, and an opportunity to connect socially with others thus facilitating emotional stability and resilience. Our participants will be able to engage in nature walks, basketball tournaments, arts and crafts, board games etc.

To Apply
Contact DHMAS for a SWCMHS/DMHAS Universal Application. Complete and return it by fax (203-579-7453) or scan with encrypted e-mail to Hoffman.Jeanluis@ct.gov. Be sure the person or the person’s conservator sign the ROIs for Community Resources & Special Projects (CR & SP) and MHC. If the person has a conservator, please send a current conservator decree. We will also be requesting a clinical package be sent to Hoffman’s attention to include the following:

    1. Face sheet Client Contact Information
    2. Most recent risk assessment
    3. Proof of PPD and/or CXR
    4. Psychosocial
    5. Functional Assessment or DLA-20