Frequently Asked Questions

Before we dive in, we should make a very clear distinction. Mental health coaches are not the same as your personal psychologists. That being said, some mental health coaches are also trained in CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). Mental health coaches do not treat severe  mental health problems such as depression, high functioning anxiety, dissociation and psychosis. Rather they are trained to make sure that an individual is comfortable with the emotional tools they have to face everyday challenges. 

Personal Mental Health coaching does not take the “one size fits all” approach. These coaches draw from personal experiences, past mental health history, behaviour traits and family history of mental health issues. Unlike mental health professionals, one would not need a doctor’s referral to see a mental health coach. This makes it easier for individuals to seek access to supportive resources immediately. 

Personal mental health coaching does not involve treating complex clinical problems but aims to boost a person’s mental health by helping them build emotional tools for relationship problems, workplace stress, peer issues and changing thinking patterns. Since these require constant work, personal mental health coaches assist by helping you grow and adapt to situations overtime by changing the way you respond to situations. 

Personal mental health coaching allows you to keep improving in your daily life. Here is an interesting read that highlights the importance of mental health coaching in reducing anxiety and depression symptoms. The work of the personal coaches is entirely evidence based and goal oriented. We focus on you and your goals – and what you want to focus on.  


The two main ideas that personal mental health coaches stress on are mindfulness and problem solving. It can often be noticed that during a stressful situation, an individual fixates on the stressor so much that they fail to problem solve. This leads to other negative responses such as panic attacks, dissociation and detachment. 

Mindfulness is important to meet personal wellness goals. Stress can lead to physiological problems such as hormonal imbalances, changes in sleep patterns, blood pressure and heart issues. The American psychological association recommends incorporating relaxation techniques along with physical activity in order to manage stress. Personal mental health coaches help train individuals in these techniques that allow them to remain calm in the face of a stressful situation and think rationally and problem solve. 

Mindfulness isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s ok! Here at Forward Focused, we use a range of evidence based tools and approaches to help our clients.

For those with mental health problems or a mental illness, we can help. We help with building emotional tools such as self esteem and self confidence and drive a change in their perspective that allows them to think more positively. 

Personal mental health coaching is not a substitute for psychological or psychiatric treatment for clinical mental illnesses. Rather it complements those by bolstering positive emotions to allow personal wellness. This kind of service is useful to people who are experiencing certain symptoms of mental health issues but it is not entirely affecting their day to day activities. However, it still causes certain discomfort that needs to be dealt with. 


Some advantages of seeing a personal mental health coach are that it helps reduce anxiety and bring your body and mind to a calm state. It helps you manage the signs and symptoms of your mental health concern. It helps you sleep and rest better. When people are suffering from anxiety and depression, it can bring about a state of restlessness. Training yourself through mindfulness and other techniques can help you rest better. 


It is a relatively new field in psychological treatment. It works quite differently than the quintessential therapy. However, it is still based on evidence and focuses on a person’s differences and unique personality and behaviour traits before providing solutions. Mental health coaching can prove to be quite helpful when taken alongside psychological treatment and medical intervention.

What is a Recovery Coach?

A recovery coach can support you with your recovery. Recovery means being able to live a purposeful and meaningful life. A recovery coach is an NDIS funded worker that has mental health knowledge. A recovery coach will:

  • Spend time with you, and people important to you, to get to know you and understand your needs
  • Help you to find out about different services and supports, and how these can help you.
  • Help you get support from mental health services
  • Help you better understand the NDIS and support you with the NDIS.


You can choose a recovery coach with lived experience. A recovery coach with lived experience has their own lived experience of mental ill health and recovery and are able to use this experience to inform their work.

Recovery coaching steps: stuck, accepting help, believing, learning and self-reliance

Generally recovery coach will be funded in plans for people with psychosocial support needs. You do not have to choose a recovery coach if you do not want one.

Psychosocial recovery coaches will work collaboratively with participants, acknowledging that each person is an expert in their own life. Building capacity, resilience, motivation & decision making.

The hours are based on your needs. Your NDIS planner or Local Area Coordinator will work with you to decide on the number of hours you would need.

We recommend that the recovery coaches have a minimum of Certificate 4 in Mental Health or Mental Health Peer work or similar training and/or two years’ paid experience in supporting people with mental health challenges.
Some recovery coaches may have other qualifications. It’s always good to ask about the qualifications and experience of your recovery coach.

It is a good idea to talk to two or more recovery coaches before you decide on a recovery coach.
Five important questions to consider when choosing a recovery coach
1. Are they someone you can get along with and easy to talk to? Are they good at listening to you?
2. Do they have a lived experience of mental illness and recovery?
3. What is their level of qualification and experience, and ongoing training?
4. Are they registered or not registered with the NDIS Quality and Safeguard Commission?
5. Are they available to support you at times and locations that are suitable to you?

You can speak to your support coordinator or contact the NDIS planner or Local Area Coordinator to find out how to get a recovery coach.

For most people we recommend that you only have a recovery coach because it is a better use of your NDIS plan. Depending on your plan or situation you may choose to have both.

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Having a mental health coach is like having a personal trainer for your goals and ambitions


We can all use a little extra support from time to time. Whether that’s to overcome obstacles in our way, help us focus, or to learn more about ourselves. When you decide to work with a mental health coach, you’re taking a positive step toward getting where you want to go.

Our skilled and highly qualified coaches help amplify your natural skills, talents and problem solving skills, so that you can achieve your goals.

We work with a broad range of clients, including people experiencing mental health problems.

Internationally recognised, formally qualified coaches, here to help you every step if the way.

We have provided some key information on mental illness as we know how important it is to find out the facts, symptoms and diagnosis, whether that be for yourself or a loved one.  


Depression disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, low mood, panic, Acute Stress and worry that last longer than usual and effects the way a person feels and acts.

  • Feeling extreme sadness
  • Having less energy or feeling tired
  • Losing motivation and interest
  • Having difficulty making decisions or concentrating
  • Low self-esteem
  • Too much or too little sleep
  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness and worthlessness
  • Thoughts of self-harm 
  • Psychotic symptoms during episodes of mania – it may involve delusions and not being in touch with reality

There are different types of depression, these are the most common:

  • Anxiety and depression:  some people who experience depression also experience some form of anxiety.
  • Post-natal depression: women who have had a baby may experience depression and experience the symptoms of depression.
  • Psychotic depression: some people who are experiencing psychosis may experience symptoms of depression – this may include delusions.

Depression is one of the main reasons for self-harm and suicide. If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide seek immediate help. If in doubt, call 000.


Anxiety is diagnosed as experiencing low mood, sadness, panic and worry, which significantly affects the way a person feels and acts and interferes with their daily life.

  • Feeling a sense of panic or extreme fear
  • Physical symptoms such as difficulty breathing, dizziness, headaches, shaking, rapid heartbeat, sweating, muscle aches
  • Feeling unsociable or withdrawal from certain situations
  • Having difficulty sleeping or waking up
  • Disordered eating – eating too much or too little
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Feeling irritable or frustrated
  • Common anxiety disorders
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: You feel like you can’t relax most of the time and everyday worries seem to bother you more than they should – like work, health, family and financial issues. It has been happening for six months or more and interferes with your daily life.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: You experience intense anxiety when you are in social situations, it can be so extreme you might avoid social situations altogether. You are terrified of embarrassing yourself or of others judging you.
  • Panic Disorder:  An extreme sense of fear and may experience panic attacks regularly and worry about having another panic attack.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) – You have obtrusive or unwanted thoughts and fears that cause anxiety. You might feel out of control and develop particular behaviors and rituals such as washing your hands excessively. 

Acute Stress

Acute Stress Disorder can develop in a response to exceptional physical and/or mental stress and which usually subsides within hours or days.

  • Initial feeling of being dazed and confused.
  • Withdrawal from surroundings and having low mood. 
  • Agitation or over-activity. 
  • Anxious
  • The heart may beat faster for a while.  
  • Sweaty and flushed.
  • Unable to remember some or all the stressful event. 


PTSD often caused by a single incident trauma, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) arises as a delayed and/or prolonged response to a stressful event or situation.

The symptoms to PTSD can take as long as a few weeks and up to 6 months to become noticeable.

  • Episodes of repeated reliving of the trauma in intrusive memories (“flashbacks”) or dreams
  • Persisting background of a sense of “numbness” and emotional blunting, detachment from other people, unresponsiveness to surroundings and avoidance of activities and situations reminiscent of the trauma
  • Anxiety and depression are commonly associated with the above symptoms and signs, and suicidal ideation is not infrequent
  •  Excessive use of alcohol or drugs may be a complicating factor 
  • Scared and avoiding places and things that remind them of the stressful event 
  • Jumpy and easily startled
  • Finding it difficult to fall asleep and struggling with insomnia 
  • Rarely, if reminded of the stressful event, the response can be fear, panic and aggression.

Complex Trauma

Complex trauma is usually interpersonal (occurs between people), and involves ‘being or feeling’ trapped. It is often planned, extreme, ongoing and/or repeated.

Complex trauma generally leads to more severe, persistent and extreme impacts than single incident trauma. The impacts tend to be cumulative.

  • Chronic physical pains can develop such as headaches or stomach aches
  • Sensitivity or hypersensitivity to sounds, smells, touch or light
  • Dissociation – Detaching from the body. Spacing out or having a hard time concentrating, gaps in time and memory. Feeling like you are in a dream or like your life is happening to someone else
  • Behavior – high-risk behaviors, such as self-harm, unsafe sexual practices, and excessive risk-taking such as operating a vehicle at high speeds.
  • Angry and upset quickly and taking a long time to calm down or finding it very difficult to calm down
  • Scared all the time and feeling anxious and depressed
  • Like they want to self-harm 
  • It is hard to trust other people and form close relationships
  • Shame and guilt
  • Unhopeful or unable to plan for the future.


It is a disorder where people who experience it misinterpret or confuse reality and their view of the world is often distorted. It affects their beliefs, behaviours, thoughts and feelings.

  • Hallucinations: hearing, seeing or otherwise sensing things that aren’t real
  • False beliefs – delusions: beliefs that don’t seem logical or real to other people
  • Difficulty thinking and communicating
  • Not feeling like doing anything
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Losing interest in self-care and appearance
  • Difficulty in planning
  • Not wanting to talk to people
  • Feeling little to no emotions
  • Loss of interest in socializing, hobbies or activities

Psychosis can occur for different reasons, and therefore there are different diagnosis, some are included below:

  • Drug induced psychosis: psychosis may be experienced as a result of drug or alcohol use or withdrawal. Cannabis and amphetamines can cause psychotic symptoms that last for a long or short period of time.
  • Brief reactive psychosis: If a traumatic or major stress has been experienced, psychotic symptoms may be experienced as a result. Recovery is usually quick.
  • Schizophrenia: If psychotic symptoms have been experienced for a longer period of six months or more then the diagnoses may be Schizophrenia.
  • Bipolar disorder: This comes under bipolar and related disorders (DSM-5): If episodes of extreme emotions highs (mania) and lows (depression) are experienced, psychotic symptoms may also occur. 

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

BPD is a serious and complex mental illness, characterized by a variety of behavioural symptoms.

  • Low self-esteem, particularly around relationships and feelings of abandonment or rejection
  • Emotional detachment and paranoia
  • Risky and impulsive behavior; including substance use and sexual behavior
  • Anger, frustration and moodiness
  • Difficulties with identity; unstable self-image
  • Recurring suicidal behavior

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder in which people experience low mood (major depressive) and times of ‘high’ or elevated mood (mania).

  • Elevated mood – feeling much happier and more confident than usual 
  • More active and having more energy than is normal: having racing thoughts, talking quickly
  • Feeling more frustrated or irritable than normal
  • Having difficulty focusing, moving from one thought to another
  • Less need for sleep and having difficulty sleeping and staying awake for long periods
  • Taking more risks than usual, for example, spending more money, using drugs and alcohol than you wouldn’t normally
  • Psychotic symptoms may be experienced during episodes of mania – it may involve delusions and not being in touch with reality


Schizophrenia is a disorder that effects the functioning of a person’s mind. It effects how they think, feel and experience the world. It involves intense episodes of psychosis including hallucinations and delusions.

  • Hallucinations: hearing, seeing or experiencing things that no one else does
  • False beliefs – delusions: beliefs that don’t seem logical or real to other people
  • Difficulty thinking and communicating
  • Not feeling like doing anything
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Losing interest in self-care and appearance
  • Difficulty in planning
  • Not wanting to talk to people
  • Feeling little to no emotions
  • Loss of interest in socializing, hobbies or activities

Intergenerational trauma

Traumatic or stressful life events, on either an individual level (e.g. physical or emotional abuse) or collective level (e.g. genocide, war) may be transmitted across generations.

Symptoms of Intergenerational Trauma are complex and not yet fully understood. However, impacts are thought to significantly impact upon behavioral issues, parenting practices and attachment, substance use and misuse, patterns relating to violence and aggression and poor physical health. Intergenerational Trauma is transmitted across generations, through mechanisms such as telling and re-telling of stories and memories, thereby affecting children and grandchildren of the original victim/s. People known to be affected include First Nations people, such as the Aboriginal people of Australia and Canada and survivors of war or natural disasters.

Mental health issues affect 1 in 5 Australians every year.

Whether we experience mental health issues ourselves, or whether someone we know is dealing with mental health issues, it affects everyone in some way.

Mental health issues can be complex, but we're here to simplify it for you.

At Forward Focused, we provide a range of services including Psychosocial Recovery Coaching, Mental  Training, Counselling and Mental Health Coaching.

We’re experienced and qualified professionals, focused on helping you navigate mental health in day to day life, in the community and at work.

Whether you want to learn about mental health, or need some support in the form of coaching or counselling, we’re here to help.

If you’re ready to get started, book a session with us. We’re looking forward to working with you.

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