I came across this great article from www.psychologytoday.com and thought I would share the key takeaways. To read the entire article, click the link at the bottom.
- Some 40 percent of U.S. adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression during the pandemic, up from 10 percent pre-pandemic.
- There is a dramatic shortage of licensed therapists in the U.S. and beyond.
- Certified coaches trained in evidence-based mental health approaches could help fill the gap, new research suggests.
- 58 percent of patients with depression symptoms experienced clinical recovery after at least one session with a certified coach.
People are weary. They’re tired, burnt out, and stressed to the max—from two years of a global pandemic plus a growing list of stressors like a contentious political climate, race-based and gun violence, extreme weather, rising inflation, a stumbling stock market, and war in Ukraine. Brazen behavior is on the rise and mental health statistics are sobering: According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 40 percent of U.S. adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression during the pandemic, up from roughly 10 percent pre-pandemic.
What’s more, we’re now learning that the COVID-19 virus itself may contribute to mental health problems: Survivors have a 35 percent higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder and a 39 percent higher risk for depressive disorder in the year following infection. It’s clear that people need mental health support, and even the federal government is starting to heed the call: Efforts to support the growing mental health care needs of Americans are increasingly making bipartisan headway.
But what does “support” mean? To most people, mental health care means therapy. It’s a tried and tested approach to improving mental health outcomes, with decades of research behind it. That will never change, but therapy simply cannot reach everyone who needs support. There is a dramatic shortage of licensed therapists in the U.S. and beyond, and that problem is not solvable overnight. That shortage means new clients spend time on waiting lists, not getting care.
The Role of Coaching
Coaching could be one possible alternative. Many people need support with their mental health but their symptoms don’t require clinical-level care. Certified coaches trained in evidence-based mental health approaches can help fill the gap.
Evidence shows that subclinical providers can be effective in treating depression and other mental health challenges. Some of the most respected concepts in clinical therapy—like cognitive behavior therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy—can be applied by paraprofessionals to great effect.
In contrast to the body of evidence supporting clinical therapy for better mental health, coaching is a newer modality with less research behind it—but that’s changing. Recent research—conducted by the company Modern Health shows promising evidence in support of coaching.
In a peer-reviewed study just accepted for publication in the Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science, 58 percent of people who started care with symptoms of depression experienced clinical recovery after at least one session with a certified coach and saw a 76 percent increase in their well-being overall. These findings build upon our previously published research showing the more sessions people participated in, the more their well-being improved.
Ninety percent of participants were confident in their coach or therapist’s ability to help them and work on agreed-upon goals, and in both cases, a stronger therapeutic alliance predicted greater improvement in well-being.
This may be good news for the entire field and suggests that mental health coaching could be a viable alternative to therapy for moderate mental health needs. When trained and vetted, coaches can provide similar-quality care that improves mental health outcomes while simultaneously being more affordable in many cases.
It could also be easier for the field to increase the supply of coaches (versus therapists, whose credentials require years of training). And it may be more feasible for coaches to focus on early intervention by preventing clinical-level symptoms from developing, leaving therapists to treat those with more severe symptoms. Coaching is also appealing when considering individual care preferences; not everyone wants to see a therapist, even if one is available. Coaching can be a less stigmatized form of care.
Of course, coaching is not a panacea, and in this field we have our work cut out for us: We need to address institutional and personal stigma, an ongoing problem that presents a meaningful barrier to care for many people. We need to work to increase diversity within provider networks and to ensure individuals receive culturally centered care. We must improve access to care within communities not typically served and continue to ideate on how to bring effectively, sustainably priced mental health care to more people.
To read the original and entire article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evidence-based-care/202207/new-research-finds-coaching-be-par-therapy