Keith Nathaniel Partington BEd (Hons), MA, Integrative Coach & Counsellor SPECIALISING IN STRESS, ANXIETY, SEX AND RELATIONSHIP AREAS
Inverness & Great Glen Region

Stress management for you: What is stress management coaching?. Blossom2

Stress management for you:
What is stress management coaching?

Is stress management important, or even worthwhile, at all stages of life?

Yes, it is a crucial aspect of life, but most people rarely do anything to tackle it. I can promise you that staying healthy, vibrant, successful, self-fulfilled and cognitively engaged with life is possible at any age. That is, however, only the case as long as you make the effort to successfully reduce your stress levels, and create relationship dynamics and sexual expressiveness that add wellbeing into your life. I know this based on my MA training in integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy, followed by my extensive experience as an integrative counsellor. I know this also from twenty years as a psychologically informed coach, specialising in stress, anxious thoughts, self-esteem, insecurity, relationship, sexuality and associated areas and issues. But, most of all, I know this because I’ve also, successfully, made these areas a core element of my own personal life journey. Whether you are in your teens, twenties, forties, seventies or much, much older, I’m really saying that, quite literally, in most respects age is nothing other than a number! However, that’s only true if you decide to take (or take back from others) responsibility for proactively controlling and directing your own life journey.

Furthermore, you can live almost the same life in your sixties, seventies and upwards as you would have wanted to live (or maybe did live) in your twenties. And crucial to bringing this about for yourself is, first and foremost, getting your stress management and self-care in life, relationship(s) and sexuality working for you, not against you. Fact: As humans we thrive on calm, co-operation, security and contentment, and high quality emotional and physical connection with others. In stark contrast, we suffer and decline mentally and physically from stress-inducing conflict, hatred, fear, insecurity, loneliness, isolation and anger. Everything else follows from this.

Allied to getting your specific stress areas under control you will find it extremely helpful, or even crucial, to develop positive thinking in your life, develop the relating and sexual aspects of your life to where you would like them to be, and feed your body good quality naturally-produced food (goodbye junk "food"). You’ll also find it extremely important to develop improved breathing techniques, and give your body and mind the exercise they require to retain -- or develop -- greater flexibility / ease of movement and good cardiovascular health.

It takes the right approach, and consistency to achieve any of this -- and it's never too early or too late to make a start on changing your life for the better. As you'll see from reading through my website, I'm passionate about stress management and emotional, sexual and overall self-care and wellbeing, whether achieved through coaching for specific areas of stress and relating, or helped more generally to some extent through mind-body exercise or mind-body holistic healing strategies. I love the huge improvement in life quality, self-care and mind and body wellbeing that can occur over time as stress levels are reduced.

So, what actually is stress management coaching?

Stress management coaching is a form of coaching designed to help you develop the skills and knowledge which you need in order to recognise what causes stress in your life, then help you to manage or resolve these issues in order to achieve lower stress levels. In my case, this also includes stress management in your sexual and other relationships, as well as in your work, education, family life, and so on. Stress management may be offered along with some form of optional mind-body exercise (yoga or tai chi), or it may be offered by itself. The best-qualified coaches in this field almost always have a professional postgraduate education and training in counselling, psychotherapy, psychology, clinical psychology, positive psychology, or combinations thereof.

Such coaches help clients to identify their existing strengths and their stress-creating contexts and circumstances, then use this knowledge as the basis on which to move forward into applying stress reduction techniques to their lives. In my view, stress management, and overall self-care and wellbeing, are the most crucial areas of life served by coaching, because if a person is suffering from high levels of stress on a day-to-day basis, every single aspect of their psychological and physical health is suboptimal.

What areas does my stress management coaching cover, and do I coach individuals, couples or groups?

I provide a range of stress management and emotional self-care and wellbeing coaching across absolutely all aspects of your life, whether it be personal, work-related, sexuality-related or concerning stressful areas of loving intimate relationships. I also provide relationship and sexuality coaching that enables you to develop areas of communication, intimacy, self-expression, greater sexual knowledge and many other relational dynamics that you might wish to improve in your loving relating and your sexuality, thereby lowering your stress levels.

As a coach, I am also happy -- and very well qualified -- to answer worrying questions about sex and relating, and to discuss coaching or counselling ways forward from areas in your sexual and relating life that are causing you to feel stuck or trapped in worry and anxious thoughts. In my work I’m happy to coach adult individuals, relationship couples, or small polyamorous / ethically non-monogamous groups across all areas of stress management / self-care coaching, including relationship coaching where relevant to getting those stress levels down for you. You will find my approach caring, warm and professional, motivational, positive and relaxingly informal.

My aim is, as always, to help you discover how to get your stress levels reduced to where you’d prefer them to be. In this way you can avoid, or at least minimise, the potentially dire, medical, social and sexual and emotional outcomes that stressful living and a stressful sexual life or relationship may create for you.

Is coaching for stress management and self-care the same as counselling or

No, not at all, though a qualified psychological therapist of any kind may do both. This may be either as separate activities, or as an integration using something like the “Personal Consultancy” model, or the older UEL “Explore, Understand, Action for Change” model. Coaching is very different in most respects from counselling. However, they can be skilfully combined into a very complementary single approach.

The School of Psychology at the University of East London defines the difference between coaching and counselling thus;

“Broadly speaking, counselling concerns itself with the resolution of internal conflicts and psychological changes. Coaching deals more with goal achievement and behavioural changes that can be measured and perceived.”

In general, whether the coaching is “pure coaching”, or coaching with some counselling integrated with it, people come to coaching because they’re not satisfied with, or worried about, one or more aspects of their lives. They generally wish to make effective changes and achieve their goals, supported, guided and encouraged by a professional coach who is trained and / or sufficiently life-experienced in that area to motivate, support and help them. For example, as a coach focused on stress management, I work closely with you to identify your positive areas, your strengths (which you will certainly have, I promise you), and your wishes for where you’d like your coaching to take you to. By contrast, sadly, most counselling tends to be very focused on “fixing” people, “putting them right” and dealing with the perceived negatives in someone’s personality.

Whilst coaching deals with many of the same areas in life, sexuality, and relationships as counselling, the coaching approach is a very different and highly positive, motivational one. Coaching is also, not surprisingly, a much less formal and far more friendly, upbeat, and more emotionally comfortable process.

Unlike counselling, coaching focuses only on the present and the future. In coaching with you, I don't explore your past personal or family history at all, and I don't use any psychotherapeutic counselling models or approaches whatsoever. Coaching is based on taking you from where you are now, to where you wish to be, based on your personal goals that we will establish together at our first consultation. Sometimes, of course, coaching is not enough to get as deeply into the problems as might be necessary for your mental and physical health; this is where counselling or other psychological or medical interventions can be a great help.

What happens in stress management coaching?

Once we have decided to work together, during our first conversations and meetings we will need to identify your stress areas, the places, people, situations, contexts, emotions, self-thoughts, thinking patterns, etc., that create stress for you. Then, together as a team, we plan our pathway to helping you learn how to manage these, or even eradicate them from your life completely. A major parallel focus at this point will also be working closely together to identify your positive areas, your strengths, and your wishes for where you’d like your coaching to take you to.

As a coach I can help you to do this, and support and motivate you while guiding you through this process, for however long it may take. Unlike in counselling, in coaching our consultations or contacts after the first few sessions will not usually be weekly, and – depending on the complexity of our specific work together -- we may only have a few in-person meetings in total, usually being able to continue much of our work by phone and email. This means that we can work together at short notice more easily if this is necessary for you. It also means that it can save you a lot of money in the process, because a face-to-face consultation is obviously more expensive than email or phone contact.

Once we agree on your goals, our work together is all about helping you to get these stressful areas of your life under better control, thereby avoiding, or at least minimising, the life-changing or life-threatening outcomes that stress may create for you. Just that feeling of not being sufficiently in control of aspects of your life is often enough to initiate a chronic stress response within your body.

In this process of helping you to discover how to better manage your stress, our work together may involve me in guiding you towards new ways in which you can look at your life. This will probably focus on examining your existing perceptions, and challenging unhelpful beliefs and habits that are locking you into stress. This may also involve me in guiding you towards perceiving your life differently. We may need to work together on you re-framing unhelpful and stress-creating beliefs into a new, stress-reducing, life approach to achieve your desired goals. Inevitably, I will introduce you to new skill-sets and strategies to deal effectively with your stress area(s), giving you the feeling of being more in control of such situations and emotions. Prime amongst these will be various kinds of breathing techniques which I will almost certainly share with you. These are each scientifically shown to activate the relaxation response (Parasympathetic Nervous System), and one in particular (taken from traditional yoga and from counselling and psychotherapy) can be used virtually anywhere, anytime, for a fast-acting calming response. Other strategies / skill-sets that we may develop together for you include positivity of mindset and mindfulness. The following is a short sample list of some well-proven strategies and skill-sets that we may work on together (a complete listing may be found on the Stress management coaching and Coaching for self-care and self-development in sexuality and relationships pages):

*Positive thinking and self-talk.

*Mindfulness training.

*Learning how to feel in control of your life and events.

*Identifying toxic elements in your life, and then devising strategies to minimise their effect on you, or even removing them if possible.

*Reassessing your priorities in life.

*Improving your communication skills.

*Assertion training and learning to take, or regain, control over situations in your life.

*Anger management.

*Review of your decision-making and life-choices skills in life, at work, in relationships, etc.

*Cognitive behavioural (CBC) approaches to coaching.

There are, of course, many, many other strategies and skill-sets that we can work with, depending on what you desire from your stress management coaching with me. Even the way in which you hold your body, your posture, and your physical tenseness can initiate a severe or even chronic stress response.

Some positive mental health aspects to bear in mind regarding your stress management coaching journey.

Together as a team, we can begin to put whatever is necessary into your life and relating to begin the stress management coaching changes that you wish to develop. From that new space in your life you’ll find that almost any desired changes can be achieved by you, and challenges in your life can be successfully dealt with. This is providing that you re-frame negative perspectives into positive ones, remaining flexible in your thinking and attitudes. Coaching can help you to develop such flexibility of thought and action, and break free from unhelpful habit and conditioning that holds you locked into stressful and unhelpful life-choices.

A structure for your life is important, but rigidity of personal and occupational life patterns, and feeling eternally stuck in your relationships and sexuality, is not a structure, it's a prison into which you've either placed yourself, or, more than likely, you've allowed someone else to place you! Always doing life in the way someone else expects you to do it, rather than feeling free to develop your own patterns of living in these areas of life, leads only to high stress levels, frustration and psychological and physical illness. Reinvention of yourself, of how you do life and relating, and learning to move with your own flow, thereby self-defining your own life-direction, is crucial. And, if you apply consistent effort to changing your life, or dealing with a challenge, such changes needn't feel like hard work! If you approach a task from a highly positive perspective, with consistency, enthusiasm and determination, then it's possible to make everything feel so much more fulfilling and carry it through with far greater ease.

Stress management coaching can help you to discover what changes you need to make to advance on this stage of your life journey to where you would like to be. And, it can support you to achieve all -- or some -- of this, making the necessary changes in your life, one gentle step at a time, of course.

In addition, where helpful, I also offer mindfulness training as part of my coaching strategies. Mindfulness training can help you in learning how to be mentally present and fully aware of the present moment, appreciating and understanding what you are currently experiencing in order that you avoid spending all of your life lost in fantasy escapes that will never become reality. Mindfulness training, when taught properly, can be a highly effective aid to reducing stress by helping you to stay grounded and avoid focusing on your fears and anxieties. Furthermore, it's also highly effective in reducing stress and fears in sexual situations.

What areas am I qualified and experienced in working within?

All of the above are areas that I have many years of professional experience in, and I can offer to help you with any of these as part of my stress management, self-care or allied relationship and sexuality coaching services.

Some general coaching and mind-body self-care points to ponder on!

Three important points need to be made here:

Firstly, if at any time I feel that your needs will be better met by a deeper psychological or medical intervention instead of, or concurrently with, my own work with you, I will immediately discuss this with you. And I'll then help you to consult with the appropriate psychological or medical professional.

Secondly, just as in counselling, for your protection and peace of mind all of our stress management coaching together will take place with a written contract between us. This will incorporate our agreement to a strict code of professional ethics and client confidentiality, which you will have a signed and dated copy of.

Thirdly, I wish to make an important point regarding my respect for your personal physical / bodily boundaries.
As an experienced psychologically-trained helping-professional, used to working in-depth with people who have suffered greatly through sexual abuse and unconsented physical and psychological boundary infringements, I will NEVER make physical contact with you without receiving your consent. I respect, and wish to validate completely everyone’s right to maintain their own established boundaries. I also appreciate that, in many cases, once you are touched without consent it’s already too late, since the traumatic effects of that unwanted touch cannot be undone. I understand how important this is to you, and I also understand how difficult it often is to construct your boundaries in the first place, let alone maintain them.

Life is a journey of exploration, and the quality and pleasure of your life-journey along the way is absolutely crucial to enjoying any goals that you may seek to attain. Stress destroys the quality of both your psychological and physical health, thereby severely impacting the quality of your life. If there is any stress in your life that's causing you problems, then I'll be more than pleased to turn my attention to it and work with you on helping you to manage, or resolve, the necessary stress and tensions.

And, of course, ideally, a high quality life-journey requires good nutrition from wholefoods, and a proactive self-responsibility for maintaining your psychological and physical fitness through a healthy level of regular, mind and body-challenging physical exercise.

Finally, I also offer you the thought that it's helpful to develop and maintain a large dose of kindness and compassion for yourself (you are certainly worth it!), and to offer this to others in your life as well. And, one final stress-reducer, we all need to show respect for our fellow humans, and for the environment that we all share together.

Who do I work with as clients?
Well, my practice has always had an international and cosmopolitan emphasis. Since 2000, my clients have represented a wide range of nationalities, linguistic groups, ethnic groups, and every possible socio-economic level. I've worked in-person with clients living just a few houses away, ranging to clients as far afield as Vietnam (by phone and internet). I'm very comfortable working with people from all lifestyles, sexualities and orientations, whether traditional monogamous marriage or heterosexual partnering, LGBT, asexual, demisexual, non-monogamous / polyamorous, whatever. In fact, I'm completely friendly and welcoming to, supportive of, and knowledgeable about all gender combinations, sexualities and lifestyles involving adult, mutually consensual, informed sexuality and relating. All of these are part of the normal and pleasurable range of healthy human life experience.

Please be aware also, that coaching never involves any form of sexual flirting or intimate sexual touch of any kind between coach and client. Sexual touch, or any unwanted contact, in our context is always considered abusive and totally unethical.

Would you like to contact me for an informal chat
regarding stress management coaching?

My approach with my clients is always ethical, professional, warm, empathic, caring, highly supportive and motivational, and completely confidential. And I have a sense of humour! I consider that the quality of our professional relationship together is the most important determinant of success. I always approach my stress management coaching from a strong interest in helping you to develop effective control of your life. This process of taking back control of your emotional state is the key to avoiding the very serious results of letting stressful living, relationship frustration and dissatisfaction, or sexuality doubts and anxieties dominate and -- over time -- erode away your personal, sexual, family and work life, while also imposing disastrous emotional and physical health outcomes on you. Please follow this link to find out about my background and qualifications.

For a more detailed look at my background, philosophy, vocational / professional qualifications, etc., please browse through my website, reading what I have written about the effects of stress, my areas of coaching, and the services I offer. Should you have any questions it will be my great pleasure to chat informally with you and answer them, either by phone or by email. Please contact me using the email form, or other contact information shown in the contact area to the right.

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