I received a call from Heena (name changed), she mentioned that she was experiencing increased feelings of being stressed, overwhelmed and weighed down by her commitments in life. She has been particularly concerned about her negative thoughts which she always ruminates and overthink about.
After having an initial conversation over the phone, we scheduled an online consultation session.
Stress Management Therapy/Coaching – Complete Session Flow
When asked to mention the problem that Heena is facing currently, she mentioned,
She is a single parent of a five years old daughter. She has a full time help to take care of her daughter and household during her office hours. She has also been studying part time to upgrade her skills. Heena states that she enjoys her job but it can be demanding and physically tiring at times. She has previously enjoyed her studies but is now finding it difficult to tackle the work and studies with the responsibilities of a small baby.
She has often found herself to be snappy, irritable, exhausted and demotivated at home and at work. Her mother visits her from time to time to support and to take care of the baby and her house but she often gets irritated by her presence.
Heena recently went to the doctor complaining of an itchy rash covering her neck and throbbing headaches at night and in the morning. She stated that medical tests revealed no physical reason for these complaints and her doctor suggested that working through some of the demands and pressures she had in her life may relieve the symptoms, as they may be directly related to stress and tension.
After hearing Heena’s challenges, I began by psycho-educating her about the core concepts behind the process and the frame work of SOFTSEA that we follow.
Session 1: Defining Challenge and Desired Outcome
In the first session of stress management therapy/coaching, I used the SOFT SEA Coaching Framework in combination with Meta Model Question for helping Heena define her current situation and desired outcome
I asked her what she felt was the most important issue requiring attention. She identified this as her negative thought patterns and pessimistic way of looking at each day in the morning.
I asked Heena to summarise the current challenge she was facing and wanted to overcome via stress management therapy/coaching in her own words.
Heena expressed the feelings of being stressed, overwhelmed and weighed down by my commitments in life. She was particularly concerned about the negative thoughts and attitude at work and at home and would like to change this.
I asked Heena to reframe her problem statement using the following format:
I feel ………… about ………… when …………
I feel overwhelmed and stressed about my negative thoughts and attitude in life.
I asked her to read the statement a couple of times and tell me what was the desired outcome that she wanted to achieve at the end of these sessions in the format
She couldn’t come up with the outcome but the Transformation Metaphor revealed everything she wanted. Her I wish statement says:
Heena: I wish to be able to feel energetic and excited about my ability to manage and complete the things that I need to do in my life.
Session 2: Defining Future
I asked Heena to describe the dream future that she would love to work towards?
Heena said that she has never thought about the future in detail. She again felt the headache, so I did Release Metaphor with her.
I again asked her to think about how her dream future looks like, feels like and sounds like. I ask her Imagine/pretend that she has acheived her outcome and is energetic and excited about her life each day and how will she describe what that would be like.
With some resistance she began describing the desired future. In Heena’s description, there was more reference to what he would not want or the problems that he wouldn’t have.
For each such reference, I asked Heena, if not this then what?
Gradually Heena was able to describe the desired future a bit more clearly and with more specific observable details. She also mentioned about the reaction of the people around her, the compliments that she is now receiving from her colleagues and also her mother.
I helped Heena understanding the importance of future writing. I now asked Heena to list down all the triggers where she start feeling these negative thoughts in her mind and ask her to narrate all the negative thoughts that comes to her mind during the week and also to complete her future in elaborated way as her assignment for the week.
Session 3: Working with Task List and Hindrances
I began session 3 by asking her about the week and any changes that she noticed in her behaviours, thoughts, or emotions. Heena mentioned that while she was writing about the future, she actually felt little energetic and hopeful about herself. She felt quite motivated but the negative thought patterns and pessimistic way of looking at each day in the morning is still there. As I had asked her to do some homework, I was going through it wherein she described that her negative thought patterns and pessimistic way of looking at each day in the morning is still bothering a lot.
I used Thought restructuring with her to help her change her thoughts associated with the identified triggers.
Trigger – Alarm rings every morning at 6 am
Current Thought: Self Talk “I hate my job. This is going to be another horrible day”
Current Emotion: Sense of despair
New Emotion: Excitement
New Thought: “I can do this. Every day is a new day. I will work well today”
When-Then: When Alarm rings every morning at 7am then I realise every day is a new day, I will work well today and i can do this.
I asked to practice the thought restructuring technique daily to make the new thoughts more automatic.
Further, I asked Heena to make a list of actionable task plan.
Once Heena listed all the activities (tasks), I asked her to prioritise and schedule each of these activities. We broke each steps down into mini actionable steps that she could take, one at a time. She instantly felt a boost when she realise that how a huge task can be chunk done in small steps.
I also asked him to identify the specific thoughts and beliefs that were stopping her (or could stop her in future) from taking consistent action towards her task list.
Session 4: Working with Task List and Hindrances Cont…
In the fourth session, Heena reported that she had started feeling better in the past week. I said she realised that making a list and prioritising all her work made her more efficient.
As I was going through her home assignment, Heena had made a complete list of all the tasks that she needs to do for her smooth work life balance.
While we were listing down all the thoughts and emotions that she felt with respect to each of these tasks, I observed that the most frequent emotion that Heena wanted to feel was Energetic.
I asked her to tell me 1 situation from the past where she felt most energetic and pick up 3 situations from the list where she would like to immediately feel energetic.
Once Heena told me the 3 future situations, I did the NLP anchoring technique with her. At the end of the session, Heena looked quite satisfied and joyful.
Session 5: Induction Process
In the fifth session, Heena told me she actually started feeling energetic and excited about her ability to manage her daughter and about her work life.
I did the complete induction process with her as I took Heena into a deep relaxed state and narrated her complete future with when-then statements.
In the next 2 sessions, She was able to restructure limiting beliefs about her own ability and get rid of her past experiences with respect to her ex-husband. Heena took 8 sessions and this coaching helped her not only overcome the negative thoughts but also instilled a newfound enthusiasm to live life to the fullest. She becomes more resilient as a parent of a young child and find a new energy at her work place.
My Observation about this stress management therapy/coaching
After talking to a week post her session completion…..
Heena Had been able to successfully upskilled herself and also got promotion in her job for exceeding the turnover target of her organisation. She was now excited about looking forward to future. After the sessions ,she is now able to spend more mindful time with her daughter and mother and is open to a new relationship in her life.
References of techniques used for helping clients manage stress
The techniques employed in this case study draw from various methodologies, including :
These approaches have been integrated to create a comprehensive and effective therapeutic process.
By applying these evidence-based techniques and building upon a solid theoretical framework, counsellors can effectively support their clients’ progress and help them achieve their desired outcomes.