Going to Therapy as a Coach's Wife? Sounds Normal to Me!

Going to Therapy as a Coach's Wife? Sounds Normal to Me!

Let’s talk about therapy. Because I’m a therapist. And a coach’s wife. And, this might be just what you need. I am super happy to report that mental and emotional healthcare has lost some of its stigma over the years since I started seeing folks in the early ‘aughts.

Thanks to some brilliant awareness campaigns, people who use social media for good, health insurance (finally!) paying, and some high profile individuals who have bravely shared their stories, many of us lay folks are feeling more comfortable pursuing support for our mental and emotional wellness.
For those of you still wondering whether therapy is for you, I thought I'd give you the inside scoop.

Reasons People Go to Therapy

Anxiety: Anxiety is a sense of dread, fear, or worry that can affect mood, sleep, and concentration. It can exist if something actually is wrong or if nothing is wrong at all. Anxiety is a great struggle for many coach’s wives who exist in a world where our livelihoods can be tied to a scoreboard or school board. We can find ourselves at the mercy of forces we are not in control of and, that’s not even to mention just trying to manage how we feel during a game. There are a lot of great tools for managing anxiety that can help you function better in the unknown of coaching and the tense moments of competition. Therapy can help explore that.

Depression: Depression can show up in a lot of ways including lack of energy, loss of interest, anger, sadness, difficulty concentrating, sleep issues, and more. Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders and, I’d imagine it affects more than a few reading this article. There’s a lot of pressure in being a coach’s wife. It takes a lot of our energy, concentration, and enthusiasm to try to keep up with this crazy life. If you are bummed out about this coaching life it could be symptoms of burnout or, maybe depression is in the mix. A therapist can help you figure that out.

What I’ve mentioned so far are two of the most common mental health diagnoses that have specific criteria, and medication that can help, and a lot of evidence about how effective therapy can be. There are many others I have seen more than a few times in coaches’ wives including post-partum depression (coaching plus baby is hard!), PTSD (for real, some of the stuff we go through is traumatizing), and substance use disorders (when the wine isn’t a joke anymore). If you are experiencing any of these, meeting with a therapist and/or your doctor may be very helpful.

Of course, mental health difficulties are not the only reason people go to therapy. Many of us also go for situational reasons. Relationship reasons. Just help-me-deal-with-life reasons. Here’s a few that overlap strongly with coaching.

Marriage: Um, hello. Marriage and coaching? That combination can be brutal. The divorce rate in coaching is often quoted as higher than the national average and, it’s not hard to see why. The job often takes precedence over time together, vacation planning, and social engagements. The pressure is high and the steam can get let off at home. And, time managing kids, house, and life feeling alone can be very isolating. Going to couples counseling or even going on your own for marriage concerns can be helpful.

Transition: Similar to the item above, transition is a common experience for many coaching families. Even if your marriage is feeling healthy and strong, it can be hard to move, hard to make new friends, hard to help your kiddos deal with struggles and changes. Therapy can be a welcome respite for your family when they are arriving in a new town, coping with a job change, or helping a child who is struggling with the coaching life.

Confidentiality: Last one, and let’s face it, this is one of the weirdest things about this life. From wives who are literally silenced by school board policy to just being aware that you can’t safely be transparent with people because of their position, who they are related to, or because they might be the next quarterback’s Mom, we can’t just spill our guts to anyone. Except for a therapist. They are literally bound by HIPAA not to speak a word that you share in the room with them. That can be the safe space that so many of us crave.

Tips for Accessing Health Care

Okay, now that we’ve talked about mental health care and the coaching life, how do you access it? Here are a few tips and resources:
  • Look for a licensed therapist. They will usually have letters behind their names like LPC, MFT, LCSW, Psy.D., LMHC, etc. Just like a doctor has D.O. or M.D., these letters indicate that they’ve been through state-approved education and licensing.
  • Check your insurance. Most insurances have some mental health care in their policy. See who’s in-network and call. If you are employed with benefits, your company may have an “EAP” (employee assistance program) to connect you or those in your household with care.
  • Many churches have pastoral counseling.
  • Check ‘em out. With a simple Google search, you will see the profiles of counselors in your area. Many of them have pics, profiles, and special areas of treatment. Shop around and be willing to call a few to see who might feel most comfortable.
  • Go virtual. For those who are in rural areas, can’t find someone who is available at the hours they need, is homebound because of kids or health, or just wants a convenient online option there’s a whole new world of quality, online therapy. BetterHelp is a great example.
Therapy is not just for when you’re mentally ill or in a crisis. Most people who attend therapy go in spurts as needed, often feeling better after 4-6 sessions. If you are considering ways to invest in yourself, your marriage, or your family this season, this may be a great, effective choice. Going to a therapist sounds completely normal to me because this life is definitely not.
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