Have you met Ben? He’s one of our Psychosocial Recovery Coaches!

Ben has a lot of expertise when it comes to mental health supports, so we thought we’d chat with him about Psychosocial Recovery Coaching and how his experiences and values shape his practice.

In your own words, what is Psychosocial Recovery Coaching? 

Psychosocial Recovery Coaching is an NDIS support aimed at assisting someone who has a psychosocial disability to understand, develop, and achieve their personal goals. There’s an element of Support Coordination involved in this, and the overarching focus is on supporting the customer’s mental health.

I like to think of it as a partnership: the supports are co-designed by the Psychosocial Recovery Coach and the customer, and this way, it’s so much more person-centred than if it were designed by the Coach alone.

How important is the role of a Psychosocial Recovery Coach in a person’s support network?

I would say it’s very important. While the role has only existed for a few years, I personally think a Psychosocial Recovery Coach is an asset for someone who’s on a recovery journey and wants a helping hand to move it along. It’s also an asset for someone who wants to take the first step in their journey but needs some support to find a starting point. I like that I can come in and be that person for my customers.

A Psychosocial Recovery Coach is a key part of an individual’s support network.

What opportunities does a Psychosocial Recovery Coach have to influence change for someone? 

Psychosocial Recovery Coaches often have the funding to fully engage with a customer, which is one of the main ways that it differs from Support Coordination, so the potential for outcomes is massive. This means I have the resources to go to the customer’s home or meet them in the community – wherever the customer feels most comfortable – and talk, plan, and brainstorm face-to-face.

How can having a Psychosocial Recovery Coach make life easier for someone on the NDIS? 

A good Psychosocial Recovery Coach removes the overwhelming anxiety that can come with understanding and utilising NDIS funding. In my practice, I bring expert knowledge to help my customers understand the NDIS supports they can access and narrow down the huge number of providers out there to ones who are suitable. That can be a lot of work in and of itself, but then, after the customer has chosen a provider, I complete a referral and arrange a meet and greet or first session.

With that said, Psychosocial Recovery Coaching is actually a capacity building support, so when the customer is in a place where they feel ready to work organising their own supports, I work with them to get their head around it.

“I like to think of it as a partnership: the supports are co-designed by the Psychosocial Recovery Coach and the customer, and this way, it’s so much more person-centred than if it were designed by the Coach alone.”

If someone has funding for Psychosocial Recovery Coaching in their plan but does not have a psychosocial diagnosis, how can you benefit them? 

It doesn’t happen that often, but yeah, sometimes an NDIS participant will receive Psychosocial Recovery Coaching funding without having a psychosocial diagnosis.

I really want to emphasise that a diagnosis isn’t the be all and end all. It’s an unfortunate reality that many people who live with disability are exposed to trauma and experience mental health challenges, and that has very real impacts. The absence of a diagnosis doesn’t affect my ability to support a customer to work towards their goals – and, if the customer wants, we can also explore pathways to getting a diagnosis.

Recovery looks different from person to person. What does recovery mean to you?

Yeah, absolutely – recovery is really subjective. To me, it’s about acknowledging that a person can overcome the challenges presented by psychosocial disability and live their life the way they want to. It’s about getting to a place where they can participate in their communities, or their economies, or their families, and their disability doesn’t present the barrier that it used to. But it’s also really important to acknowledge that recovery isn’t linear, and the way a person feels and chooses to interact with the world will vary from day to day, and that’s OK.

Hope is an important part of Psychosocial Recovery Coaching.

How does your experience as a Mental Health Support Worker influence your practice?

One thing that I’ve learned to do is use a trauma-informed approach. Some people with psychosocial disability also have experienced trauma in their lives, so trauma informed care is all about doing no harm and engaging with a customer in a manner where you do not retraumatise them. And of course, hope is a big part of a recovery journey, so it’s about reinforcing with the customer that recovery is possible.

My time as a Mental Health Support Worker also provided me with personal attributes that are relevant for Psychosocial Recovery Coaching – I can engage with a customer and build rapport quite quickly. I also developed quite a bit of local provider knowledge and can establish a support network for an individual.

Like I said before, recovery can look different from day to day, and it’s never linear. I understand this – I’ve seen it firsthand – and I’m highly adaptable to my customers’ current needs.

“Hope is a big part of a recovery journey, so it’s about reinforcing with the customer that recovery is possible.”

What can someone expect when they start working with you?

I usually spend the first few sessions getting to know the customer and letting them get to know me. For me as a Psychosocial Recovery Coach, my initial priorities are finding out which supports are currently in place (both formal and informal), understanding the customer’s current situation, and identifying the personal goals they want to achieve first. My scope is pretty wide, so goals can range from medical goals to social goals, or employment goals, or skill or education-based goals. Some of my favourite goals to work towards with a customer revolve around hobbies and interests.

You mentioned that you enjoy working with customers to explore hobbies and interests – how do you support this process? 

Firstly, I get an understanding of what the hobbies or interests could be. I then go away and research social clubs or facilities where the customer can participate in a safe and supported environment. From there, I work with the customer to put supports in place that remove the barriers to attending – by that, I mean arranging a support worker or mentor to accompany the customer. Sometimes, depending on funding, that can also be me.

How do hobbies and interests play a role in recovery? 

Hobbies and interests provide people with positive outlets to regulate emotions and de-stress. Some hobbies are quite social as well, and this has the added benefit of providing an avenue for a customer to meet like-minded people and form meaningful friendships. Plus, there are so many types of therapies out there that make a hobby or interest into a really beneficial part of someone’s support network. For example, music therapy.

Nature is highly beneficial for mental health.

You’ve also previously mentioned being a big advocate for the benefits of nature for mental health. What are some simple ways you integrate nature into your practice? 

When we get to the stage where we’re having conversations about strategies for wellness, I like to discuss the benefits of being in a natural environment. If they’re interested, I introduce nature in small steps – for example, I’ll suggest having our catch-up in their garden or at a nearby park. This is really effective, and often leads to people building up to immersing themselves into more outdoorsy activities or asking me to find service providers who offer nature-based activities or experiences. I love seeing this happen – fresh air, sunshine, and natural settings are so good for us.

How often do you check in with your customers? 

Frequency of check-ins is up to their personal preference. If someone doesn’t know how often they want to engage, I’d suggest once a fortnight as a minimum. This way, we have good continuity of supports, it keeps everyone accountable, and we can move towards goals at a good pace.

Think Ben might be a great fit for you or someone you support? Get in touch with our friendly team to discuss a referral.