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How do I get started with mental health coaching?

By Your Headspace Mindfulness & Meditation Experts

So you’ve decided to find a mental health coach. Congrats — that alone is a huge step toward reaching your goals. But it’s normal to feel a little nervous about what’s next. How do you find the right coach? Do you need to prepare for your first session? When you open up your Headspace app to start chatting, you might be wondering — what’s about to happen?

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In this article

What is mental health coaching?

Mental health coaches can work with you on a wide range of issues from improving your overall well being, helping you with self-care practices, managing stress, developing sustainable coping strategies, boosting resilience, and building healthier habits. In short, coaches are dedicated to supporting you in creating positive changes in your life.

You may already be familiar with therapy and you might be wondering how coaching is different. Therapy tends to focus on diving deeply into past or present issues, expressing emotions, and better understanding patterns of thoughts and behaviors. Coaching on the other hand, helps you to work on immediate goals and creates an action plan with you to reach them. If you’re looking for a diagnosis or prescription, coaching might not be right for you.

Whether you want to manage everyday anxiety, sleep restfully, or deal with a life transition, a mental health coach will work with you to co-create goals and actively participate in making transformative changes. Your coach will help you break down these goals into manageable steps, and they'll guide you through overcoming any obstacles that might come up along the way.

READ NEXT: What is mental health coaching?

Finding the right coach

Connecting with your coach on a personal level can make defining and achieving your goals a smoother process, though trying to find a qualified and compatible mental health finding the right coach can feel like a daunting task. You will want to weigh factors like specialization, credentials, and personal rapport.

Headspace mental health coaches are required to be nationally board certified by an accredited institution, like The National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC), or have earned a Master’s-level degree in a psychology related-field, have over two years of relevant experience, and 200+ hours of supervised training.

It’s important to feel connected to your coach - Headspace emphasizes culturally responsive and identity-affirming care rooted in your environmental and societal realities. Coaches develop an awareness and integration of their own intersecting identities, and in turn, help those that they work with to do the same, through social justice and health equity frameworks.

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Preparing for the first session

Coaching is a collaborative relationship where you and your coach work together to help you reach your goals. You’ll work with your coach to identify small steps that you can take towards each goal, and your coach will help you make adjustments as needed to keep you on track. Here are a few ways you can set yourself up to make the most of your first session:

  • During your first session, your coach will want to understand what you're hoping to accomplish in coaching. Your coach may ask you to fill out an intake form to better understand your intentions. Some find it helpful to keep a notebook to track thoughts related to their goals.
  • Are you looking to manage stress better? Or work through important life decisions? It’s helpful to envision your goals ahead of time, so make a note of some key areas you’d like to discuss with your coach. You can learn more about what a mental health coach can help you with here.
  • As mental health coaching is done through text-based sessions, make sure to turn on your push notifications to receive important messages.
Headspace Mental Health Coaching

Headspace Mental Health Coaching

2 min

What to expect during your first session

Sessions are text-based, typically 30-minutes in length conducted on your mobile device. During your first text-based session, you’ll have a safe space to connect with your coach, share more about yourself, and discover how coaching can best support you. From there, your coach will work with you to co-create a personalized action plan drawing from evidence-based strategies - like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) - to help you make progress. Other wellness-based practices could include:

  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Teaching distress tolerance skills
  • Encouraging journaling to increase self awareness
  • Exploring and setting SMART goals
  • Co-creating an action plan
  • Reflecting and naming feelings
  • Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction techniques
  • Solution focused strategies
  • Content recommendations
  • Learning focus skills

Mental health coaches will help you develop new skills, healthy habits, and coping mechanisms and empower you to improve your mental health. Remember - this is an ongoing process, you can check in with your coach on how it is going over the course of follow up sessions.

"Coaching is a collaborative relationship where you and your coach work together to help you reach your goals."

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What happens after your first session?

Your first few coaching sessions are an excellent opportunity to connect with your coach and establish a path forward for your mental health. Try to pick a consistent time every week to meet with your coach so you can stay on track.

Your coach may ask you to fill out a Perceived Stress to help you better understand your current stress levels, mood, or worries. This will show you and your coach how you’re making progress throughout your journey.

Each session could look different as coaches draw from a variety of clinically validated techniques. Your coach will equip you with coping mechanisms to overcome what's weighing you down now while also helping you build a long-term plan to maintain good self-care practices and resilience, so you feel empowered to take on whatever comes next.

It’s important to take time to care for your well-being during your coaching journey - Headspace’s library of meditation and mindfulness content can be a great resource. You’ll find hundreds of guided exercises that can help with stress, sleep, focus, and much more. These can serve as a way to compliment your coaching sessions and learn to live more mindfully.

Get started with a Headspace Mental Health Coach

Mental health coaching is now available in the Headspace app. Connect with a trained expert for live, one-on-one care and support for everyday anxiety, stress, and big life challenges — on your time, from anywhere. Whatever you’re going through, your coach is here every step of the way.

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  • Three 30-minute text-based sessions per month
  • A personalized plan from your coach
  • Learn new skills and healthy habits
  • Get support when things get tough
  • Flexible availability to meet your needs
  • Includes the full Headspace meditation and sleep library

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