Youths’ experience of trauma: Personal transformation though self-leadership and self-coaching
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South African youth has a history of adversity and is exposed to high levels of trauma, either as victims of violence or as witnesses to these events. South Africa has a shortage of mental-health professionals and a fairly low capacity and motivation of non-specialist health workers to provide quality mental health services to youth. Evidence suggests that youth often display poor engagement in traditional primary and secondary specialist service structures. Creating a sense of responsibility and accountability may assist in providing support without creating helplessness. This may be achieved through self-leadership and self-coaching. This was a qualitative study aimed to understand how youth might use self-leadership through self-coaching to provide self-support during a traumatic event. The results indicated that youth were able to mobilise their internal resources in the form of self-leadership through self-coaching in order to deal with a traumatic experience. This, however, was a process of adaptation. They used different self-coaching strategies, namely cognitive strategies, emotional and spiritual care and social support. This culminated in a learning experience with personal transformation. Frontline health workers, such as nurses, social workers and psychologists, can serve as a network for youth and should be made aware of the value of self-leadership and self-coaching strategies that could assist youth in developing skills such as self-awareness, coping with anxiety, goal-setting, self-evaluation, and functional self-talk.