As a trained social inclusion bridge builder my role demands coaching dialogue and rapport. The role also uses GROW techniques and life planning. The initial assessment with client uses a wheel of life that deliberately incorporates mainstream social domains. Bridge builders use this wheel or social inclusion 'web' because it is based on the belief that recovery takes place in mainstream. The philosophy lies at the heart of social inclusion planning and has been promoted by Shepherd, Boardman and Slade (2008), the NDT (National Development Team) and influential mentors including Dr. Pat. Deegan.
David prioritised music practice as his main indeed, only mainstream priority. He is a skilled guitarist and passionate about music with currently no mainstream outlets to back it up. As the Arts bridge builder within the team, it is my responsibility to help David access a mainstream music outlet according to his requirements, as part of his recovery pathway. As bridge builder I also need to know which outlets exist locally and further afield. I give David as little or as much support as he requests in liaising with these venues. Other areas of the contract are also discussed together – the question of disclosure, mainstream support, sources of funding if required. Again, the choice to disclose or not is up to the client when he or she accesses the venue. I will never disclose on the client’s behalf.
I see life coaching in mental health as a non-support role. A client needs as little or as much support as he or she requests. A social inclusion life coach helps set up the process through which a client discovers a mainstream recovery pathway. If the client sustains this relationship independently that is all to the good. The bottom line is change but often all that is required for people with long-term mental health conditions is the opportunity to experience change. Due to the culture of low expectation it is often the case that people 'stuck' in long-term health services are marginalised. They can be excluded almost by default from simple processes of change and re-adjustment that the rest of us might take for granted.
Mainstream life coaching allows a conversation based on personal goals, hopes and dreams. Out of these conversations emerge SMART practical actions that take place in the mainstream community without stigma or prejudice