Health Officer Develops Resilience | Lana Holman

Health Officer Develops Emotional Resilience


Laura has been an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) for her Local Authority for five years. She is 38 and her friends and family are very important to her.

She has a history of mild depression and has recently been prescribed anti-depressants.

The depression seemed to have started up again following a work related incident which involved conflict with an external client.

Laura had been experiencing depression and anxiety following the work incident where she had her confidence severely knocked by a client. Her main issues were that she wanted to feel stronger emotionally and think and deal with things differently. She wanted to change her learnt behaviour and become more positive and stronger when dealing with confrontations. She believed that this would make her more effective in her role.

Following the incident she had also felt inadequate. She said that her four years training to be an EHO had been a waste of time as she felt that she knew nothing.

She was feeling worried about doing environmental health visits and going into premises. The main worry was about what reaction she would get.


Laura wanted to learn to become more assertive in conflict situations at work and in her personal life and she also wanted more emotional resilience.

We arranged five one hour sessions over five months.

I used techniques mostly taken from NLP including anchoring states; changing sub-modalities; dissociation and using your imagination to change your feelings.

We looked at the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and the ‘thoughts, feelings, behaviours’ cycle. This helped Laura to understand how making changes in one of these areas could impact on the other areas. She started out by saying that she was going to try to ‘fake it to make it!’

We did various NLP exercises including ‘Using your imagination to change your feelings.’ This demonstrated that we can change our feelings at will. I asked L to sit quietly for a few moments and think of a situation when she had done something that she did not feel good about. 

I asked her to notice what feelings came up. Then I asked her to take another deep breath and think about a situation where she had done something and felt really good, and again, to notice the feelings that came up.  Laura had just used her imagination to recall two experiences that resulted in very different feelings. This helped to demonstrate that she could use the connection between her imagination and feelings to put her in control and help her to choose the way she feels.

This exercise led nicely onto an ‘anchoring states’ exercise.  She chose to substitute calmness and confidence for being upset and feeling vulnerable.

We talked about limiting beliefs as she had had an experience at school where her maths teacher had told her that she would ‘never be any good at maths’. This comment had stayed with her throughout her life and she wanted to prove the teacher wrong. She said that this comment spurred her on for seven years to prove her teacher wrong! She did this by going to university as a mature student and getting her degree.
As well as the practical exercises we also talked about setting up support mechanisms for her for when she went out on her visits to client’s premises. 

She came up with simple and practical suggestions such as taking a colleague with her and going straight from home in the morning rather than from the office, so that she did not have time to get too worked up about the visit.

We also uncovered some deeply embedded issues that she now realises have impacted upon her and how she feels and acts. She has chosen to acknowledge these issues but put them behind her in the past where they belong.


By session five, Laura seemed to have completely changed. She appeared happy, upbeat and confident. During the coaching process she had successfully managed to lose two stone in weight and had found the courage to end her relationship with her boyfriend who she said was making her feel ‘miserable.’
She said that she felt like ‘a bird that had been released from its cage!’

She claimed to be feeling a lot stronger in conflict situations and was dealing well with any confrontation. She was in fact dealing with things so well that we devoted most of one session to breaking down precisely what she was doing so that we could examine her approach.

She had also started to confront things with friends and family. She talked a lot about ‘needing’ to do things. When I pointed this out she said that she does not ‘have to’ do these things, but she ‘wanted to’.
She said that she had also accepted the confrontational work incident and moved on from it. It no longer caused her distress when she thought about it. Her words were ‘I now see it for what it is and the thought of it no longer bothers me.’

And so.

Having regained her confidence over a period  of time Laura is now working on her plan to emigrate to Australia which is a dream she has always had but has never had the courage to act upon.

See Lana Holman's profile on Executive Coaching (EBCN): Lana Holman, her website is Daeda People Solutions Ltd