Expert Mentoring – A Key to Restoring Mental & Emotional Health
Escalating mental health, emotional or related health issues may signal the need for mentoring or guidance.
When help is needed, it can be difficult to find the outside expert support you need. Developing your own personal self as a resource can also be a challenge.
A person in distress often recognizes that their customary coping mechanism and level of support are inadequate. The dependence on learned ways of dealing with adverse life events often does not help for an overload of stressors and emotional turmoil. The experience for some is like being entrapped in a swirl of thoughts, painful emotions and images. Before distress reaches too high a level, is the time to reach out to others for help and guidance.
If a person is at the point where he or she feels overwhelmed, helpless, hopeless and has thoughts of harming one’s self or others, then it is time for emergency services. For immediate help or intervention, seek out an experienced community resource such as a mental health professional, health care provider or emergency services. If not an immediate or emergency situation, the use of a trusted expert, skilled guide and mentor would be an important consideration to:
look with you at the whole picture and uncover areas that may need attention;
lay out a plan of action for a steady course of recovery;
set up realistic objectives and goals;
advise of resources and treatments – holistic and integrative;
give caring feedback and support.
There may be
active listening, support, feedback on ideas
weighing of options
finding what is most important and practical for your situation and resources
discussing the current availability of desirable choices
By regaining self-esteem, confidence, and direction, in a supportive relationship, can tip the balance towards healing and repair.
Mentor-Guides to consider are those with a history of
education and training in holistic and integrative healing approaches;
psychotherapy, counseling or peer support training;
commitment to personal health and spiritual development;
Drifting toward increasing isolation, trying to figure things out from a limited repertoire of ideas and a narrow perspective, can be a recipe for disaster. Some anthropologists see human origins as evolving from the herd and tribal animals. Individuals may need to be involved in outside or external support for sustenance and survival. In ancient time, to be excluded from the group or tribe was tantamount to a death sentence - as survival out in the wilds was near impossible for the individual. Being able to connect to an outside resource, can be the way to find critical help when needed and a path to recovery. A more profound step is to develop a sense of connections with all things and living beings, beyond your self and survival needs - as seen and taught in both ancient and modern spiritual traditions. In health care work, utilization of peer support specialists has become an essential part of programs, where a certified individual with personal experience in the given area of needs, shares their support, experience, and mature guidance to an individual in need. In addiction recovery, a mainstay has been the Twelve Step Programs as AA and NA, where participant have both mutual aid meetings and sponsors. The sponsor is available to be an experienced support person, a mentor, and guide.
What is the difference between a coach, mentor or consultant?
The difference between mentoring, coaching and consulting may be a fine line. Generally, however, when a more experienced and more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less-experienced and less knowledgeable person, it is often referred to as a mentoring relationship. Coaching is a form of a more limited relationship in which support is given to a learner or client to achieve a specific personal or professional goal by providing training and guidance. A consultant is a person considered an expert and an experienced professional - with wide knowledge - in the area relevant to those who might seek the consultant's services because of specific needs. Education, training, and apprenticeships are often done under the guidance or mentoring of a highly experienced or expert in the area of the training, as seen in the healthcare fields.
Getting good direction at the onset can be critical to success.
. For example, in choosing a therapist or health care provider, the helper chosen may be a person with a lot or very little training or experience. The type of professional care or therapy may be quite varied and some suited only for specific problems. For example, someone with history of severe trauma or PTSD – nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks, severe anxiety, startle response, ADD-like symptoms with poor focus and concentration, self-isolating, depression, mood swings, etc. - may need a trauma trained therapist to do trauma-based work as EMDR, BAUD or Exposure-Response Prevention Therapy. Someone that has a major underlying health issue may first need focus on diagnosis and treatment. A person with a severe addiction problem as to opioids, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine or alcohol, for example, would need direction to addiction treatment. Some health care systems always have a person presenting with a problem: Begin with the most highly skilled and experienced clinician to diagnose and refer for the appropriate treatment. An example, at least in the past, would be programs like the Mayo Clinic or Kaiser. Unfortunately, due to many issues and lack of resources, a person may begin his healthcare encounter with the least experienced or trained person for appropriate interventions, referrals, and healthcare advice. Sometimes a person has no resources, ends up in the ER, or is limited to where he can go by his type or lack of insurance. Triage type of health care is what was taught in disaster training in the military, and for community disasters, where the best available person with whatever training they have had – hopefully specialized training - decides who gets placed where or is referred for specific treatments. The value of having a trusted on-going expert mentor-guide, or go to person, is that there is always change or new demanding situation where new direction or decisions need to be made – where careful considerations and deliberation is needed. Often, a close friend, family member, or a primary care provider will be the initial advisor or contact. The questions are whether this supportive friend or health care provider is the best experienced or knowledgeable person to be of help to you.
Places people look for healthcare guidance may be
lectures, books, and other written resources;
the advice of friends or someone in the healing professions;
internet, blogs, podcasts, a TV show about mental and physical health;
workshops, seminars, retreats, etc...
A search for help can be confusing, so the role of an expert mentor can be of extreme importance. In healthcare, the expert or person with the highest level of experience is often called in as a consultant for the person or a service provider - to work out possible options and to determine a path forward, especially in complicated situations. Expert mentor-guide is not a replacement for primary medical care, a local community therapist, specialty care, or for emergency services when needed and indicated. An example would be the need for a cardiologist for severe heart disease, an endocrinologist for severe hormonal imbalance, an orthopedic surgeon of broken bones, or heart surgeon to replace a damaged heart valve. Management of serious mental or physical health problems should remain under the care and guidance of your local primary care physicians, specialist, therapist or psychiatrists.
Is there a perfect, all skilled and experienced mentor-guide for you?
Maybe there is, or maybe there isn't, the perfect choice in your immediate reach. However, it is always worthwhile to search for such a resource person. Be aware in your seeking or search for help or relief. Exploitative and unscrupulous persons can present themselves as a teacher, guides, gurus, authority figures that want to take advantage of their assumed position of power and authority for their self-gain. These abuse problems are prevalent in many places in our society, as in business, educational, entertainment, religious, medical, and therapy settings where there can be a misuse of power and authority. So, it is important to check references, credential, and materials written by or about the person of interest. Look for public service or charitable work of a compassionate, caring nature vs. pursuits suggesting arrogance, self-serving and egotistical needs, and exploitation of others. Especially be in touch with your expectation. Be clear of offers as seen in business, from healers, or by politicians that appear to be magic or miraculous fixes for complex problems or situations. If there is a history of trauma, unresolved emotional or mental health issues, especially be aware of your vulnerabilities to be taken in by an unscrupulous individual. A personal vulnerability might be suspected if you have a history of getting into repeatedly “bad” relationships. So, go slowly, wisely, do what research you can, and get trusted recommendations.
The next best thing is to develop your “personal” inner mentor-guide to depend on at any time of need, by:
increasing knowledge and skill building;
the study of healing traditions from your own background and other cultures;
the development of community resources, a social network, and support groups;
building a better health reserve through the best possible nutrition, exercise program, spiritual, and holistic practices - as insight meditation and yoga;
developing compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, and giving a helping hand to others in need.
A person, to move towards the self-help, self-mentoring alternative, needs to get past or work through any past trauma that contributes to being stuck, or fixed in a reactive, defensive posture. Getting locked into the constraints of old learned ways leads to a constricted or inflexible mind state with less adaptive ways of responding to change or crisis.
Reliance on a trusted external mentor-guide or the development of a strong, inner, personal mentor-guide will give the best chance of recovery, restoration of health, survival, longevity, and well-being.
Ron Parks, MD - editing by Shan Parks
Why doesn’t insurance cover all needed health care services?
The “expert mentoring services” discussed in my recent blog post – as an important or critical needed service in certain circumstances (link) – are usually paid for as an out of pocket expense and are not covered by conventional or commercial health insurance. If you have a health care savings account, services sometimes are covered which may not be by other insurance providers. Presently, our health care and insurance-based coverage system is dysfunctional and lacking in many ways. Costs are excessive for insurance coverage provided – often with additional co-pays and disqualification clauses. There is a positive movement towards a one-payer system, like Medicare for all, that will hopefully allow for a fairer and broader coverage of more of our population. It is yet to be seen whether new developing insurance programs will cover what is now considered optional or elective services. “Expert mentoring” and guidance type of services are essential and critical when needed – either at the beginning or at any time during a health care encounter. If the advice or direction you get is working satisfactorily, and you are making the progress you expect, then continue with the guidance you are receiving. Good health care providers are trained to get a consultation from experts, or a more experienced person, when faced with a complex situation or where the provider has not had sufficient prior experience. If the provider makes a referral for consultation and it is considered a medical necessity, it may be covered by insurance. Unfortunately, referrals or consultations often do not happen, and the person with the health problem suffers as a result. At this point, there is the option of paying for the needed help, mentoring or guidance or finding ways to develop the self-education and the skills needed – to help resolve the problems or to improve on the current situation.
References - Resources
Dr. G. Frank Lawlis, Ph.D. “What Is THE BAUD,” http://www.baudenergetics.com/the_baud.html. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. “Exposure Therapy,” https://wiki2.org/en/Exposure_and_response_prevention. ———. “Motivational Interviewing,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motivational_interviewing. “Personal Session with Dr. Parks.” Ron Parks, MD - INTEGRATIVE + ONLINE PSYCHIATRY + HOLISTIC HEALTH, https://parksmd.com/consultation/consultation-dr-parks/. Steven C. Hayes (Author), Kirk D. Strosahl (Author), Kelly G. Wilson. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Second Edition: The Process and Practice of Mindful Change Second Edition. 2nd ed. The Guilford Press; Second edition (August 29, 2016), https://amzn.to/2AY1JBT. Sune Rubak, Annelli Sandbæk, Torsten Lauritzen and Bo Christensen Br J Gen Pract 2005; 55 (513): 305-312. “Motivational Interviewing: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” 2004. © British Journal of General Practice, 2005. 55 (513): (n.d.): 305–12. “The Center for Spiritual Emergence.” http://www.centerforspiritualemergence.com/ Web MD. “EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing,”. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/emdr-what-is-it#1.
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