PTSD and Self-Coaching

August 7, 2013 Michele Rosenthal

Finding the right help in overcoming PTSD can be challenging. From a financial aspect it can consume your savings. I actually had to turn to family to help me shoulder the cost of years of treatment.

But what if you don’t have the financial resources for a full-on approach? Or, what if you do and still find it tough to get through the days between sessions?

Developing your ability to self-coach can be a terrific asset in recovery regardless of any outside help. Not only will you develop core skills and mechanisms for better maintaining a sense of stability, but you will also develop thought and action processes that you can use for the rest of your life, long after your PTSD recovery successfully completes.

How to Coach Yourself

What I love about coaching is that it is action-oriented and it deals with the present and future, not the past. In coaching we don’t spend a lot of time looking back trying to understand the past and its effects; that’s the realm of therapy. In coaching we assess the present and form a blueprint for the future.

As a certified professional coach my training taught me a lot about both coaching and self-coaching. Having worked with hundreds of survivors I’ve distilled the self-coaching process down to a 10-step cheat sheet that you can use anywhere, anytime, any day to shift yourself out of feeling stuck into a fluid plan that moves you forward.

When you feel anxious, sad, depressed, frustrated or any of the other PTSD-state experiences get yourself focused and back on track by following this process:

1. identify the problem on which to focus

2. explore the problem's impact on your life (become very clear of the issues it creates)

3. define what life would look like if the problem was resolved

4. examine why resolving this problem is important (this is a critical step!)

5. pinpoint what needs to be done to resolve the problem

6. chunk down the resolution into small, manageable tasks/steps

7. set up a strategy for how the steps will be taken (and who might help)

8. commit to a timeline

9. develop a plan for accountability

10. check in with yourself about progress, challenges and successes

While you're working through these steps ask yourself empowering questions; questions that are open-ended, meaning you cannot answer 'yes' or 'no'. Begin questions with words like:

  • when
  • how
  • what
  • who
  • where
  • why (why isn't very useful unless it's applied to the future, as in #4)

For example, ‘How will I get this done?’, ‘When can I take this step?’, ‘In what way is this problem impacting my life?’, ‘Who can help me with this?’, and ‘Where do I want to focus my actions?’.

Avoid questions that begin with: do, can, will, could, might.
When you ask yourself empowering questions you both shift yourself into action mode and force yourself to find answers, or get creative trying!

To discover more self-coaching practices check out two of my favorite books on the process:

Back To Life, by Dr. Alicia Salzer

The Power of Self-Coaching: The Five Essential Steps To Creating the Life You Want, by Joseph Luciani

Michele is the author of Your Life After Trauma: Powerful Practices to Reclaim Your Identity. Connect with her on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and her website,

APA Reference
Rosenthal, M. (2013, August 7). PTSD and Self-Coaching, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 17 from

Author: Michele Rosenthal

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