I have written and spoken about this on many occasions: I come from a cultural background where therapy and coaching are ridiculed. When going through some marital troubles a few years back, I attended couples therapy with my then-husband, and I hated it.
I now understand that the therapist went straight in with hard questions without making us feel safe—and this isn’t a good thing.
My ex and I both ended up crying throughout the first session, and not a “great relief, and we needed this” big bonding cry. This was my first encounter with therapy, and I found it difficult to understand how telling a stranger about my deepest fears and childhood problems could be helpful.
A few months later, I joined a free group coaching workshop through a friend. The coach seemed approachable and sensitive but also down-to-earth. When she offered a discovery call for all attendees. She listened, asked many questions, and challenged me during that call.
After working with this coach for months, I felt changes happening. Slowly, I became more aware of my behaviour and how it may contribute to the situations I end up being in. However, after some time, I still felt the need to understand some of the existential questions.
I already had a coaching certification and studied positive psychology and existential wellbeing when I started working with a therapist. Being in therapy helped me build self-compassion and understand that integrating all our parts is more important than constant self-improvement. This principle is fundamental when working as a trauma-informed practitioner: nobody needs fixing and is broken.
But the missing piece that helped me achieve real transformation was discovering embodiment.
Using my experiences as a client and a practitioner, my own coaching style started crystallising.
These are the ground rules I generally work within my practice.
-Making someone feel safe is more important than getting them fast results. Fast results are superficial and may not stick. Getting these fast results can sometimes be about the coaches’ ego, and not necessarily to the clients’ benefit.
-Where we get defensive, we need to heal the most. Our defense is there to protect us and it will only come down if we feel safe. So back to the first point.
-The client is always in charge of a session; they need to feel resourced and empowered.
-Healing is not linear; it is shaped like a spiral. Things won’t just heal and disappear; some issues can reoccur and that is okay. We will always revisit the same problems (our core wounds), but they can feel lighter and easier to handle as we gain perspective.
-Humour helps, and kindness is more important than scientific knowledge. Most of us want to be heard and seen, not lectured. Sharing my knowledge only aims to give clients a different perspective and encourage their curiosity.
-Five quick tips and tools don’t work with most issues, but we are drawn to them as they promise quick fixes. Hence even the best coaches feel the need to market the idea of ”3 tools to overcome this” or “5 steps to heal,” etc. In reality, the client needs to put the work in, and, this is where accountability comes in.
-Most people know what they need, which can be accessed to quiet their mind chatter. Embodiment and somatic exercises are the most direct route to this deeper knowledge.
-Sharing experiences in a community can give us access to our collective knowledge, just imagine! Many clients are afraid of opening up in a group environment; it requires a lot of courage. But if the group can hold a non-judgemental container for big feelings (the coach’s responsibility), we can learn a lot and accelerate the healing process.
-Coaching, psychotherapy, a degree of spirituality, and some neuroscience together can become an incredibly powerful tool in finding answers to our questions. Coaching offers practical thinking and accountability. Therapeutic practices with embodiment can help with healing deeper wounds. Spirituality connects us to this world, and can give meaning to many existential givens of being a human. Neuroscience can give some brilliant, scientific explanations for behaviours.
Finally, my superpowers are curiosity and deep listening. I never come to a session with an agenda.
Holding regular workshops, coaching clients, and studying allows me to improve my toolbox constantly. I have tried all the modalities I recommend and approach each client individually.
Being supported while navigating difficult questions in life has advantages. Even if you have doubts around coaching or therapy, I would encourage you to try it. And if the above-mentioned values resonate with you, I would be honoured to be your guide on this journey.
Suppose you feel that a full one-on-one coaching relationship may be a step too far. There are options we can offer: a gentle introduction to self-discovery via self-study courses or a deeper dive with group coaching.
Our next group coaching programme, Introspective Explorers: Mapping Your Emotional Landscape, starts at the end of May. We would love to have you join us.