At their essence, coaching, consultation and supervision are all based upon a model of collaborative partnership. Like any good partnerships, their purpose are met when two (or more) parties each invest something specific—something valuable, something quantifiable and something altogether unique.
Within our work, each of my clients typically provide three things that I don’t possess and cannot manifest independently: (1) firsthand awareness of your own experiences; (2) ownership of your own choices; and (3) hard-earned expertise about your own life.
By contrast, within our work, I typically provide three things my clients don’t possess and cannot manifest independently: (1) an outside, observational perspective; (2) professional “support role” training; and (3) collaborative techniques designed to support you in exploring, understanding and empowering yourself.
If you’re an individual or couple seeking trauma-informed care amidst a relationship crisis, I’ll likely use my COACHING skillset more than any other part of my professional repertoire. Supported by expertise in relevant subjects (aka my CONSULTATION skillset), coaching is one of the BEST modalities to ensure that whatever relationship decisions you make come from YOUR highest and most authentic self.
- If you’re a professional colleague seeking my support for MENTOR COACHING, CONSULTATION or SUPERVISON, you’ll want to read more about my other professional roles here.
Every practitioner defines this a little bit differently. Here’s the way I look at it:
- As my client, you arrive to our sessions ready to work (it isn’t easy), ready to play (we will laugh, I promise!) and ready to make some very real progress toward your goals. (If you’re not sure what your goals ARE, determining that is precisely where we’ll start!)
- As your coach, consultant and/or supervisor, I arrive to our sessions prepared to support you (you are not alone), prepared to champion you (we’ve both trained for this!) and prepared to help you recognize and leverage your progress—especially at your most critical, decision-making junctures.
In relation to coaching, consultation and supervision, therapy is a similar-yet-different field of personal and professional work.
- The clearest distinction is also the most simple: in addition to MANY other scopes of competency, licensed therapists are fully trained to diagnose and treat mental illness. By contrast, coaches, consultants and supervisors are trained to stretch, strategize and maximize our clients’ innate capacity for mental health.
- Here’s another: Therapy is often characterized by a deep journey into the past, seeking to discover what “game changing” circumstances led us to our present reality. By contrast, coaching, consultation and supervision generally begins with our present reality. It clarifies where we stand today, considers where we want to go next, explores the resources and challenges at play, then strategizes our best path forward.
- My favorite compare-and-contrast definition is this one: coaching, consultation and supervision are appropriate modalities for individuals with the present capacity to conceptualize and actualize positive action on their own behalf. By contrast, psychotherapy and pharmacology are often necessary resources for clients who find themselves (typically through ZERO fault of their own) presently unable to motivate, activate, integrate and maintain strategic steps toward their own self-improvement.
Some clients benefit from working concurrently and collaboratively with coaches and therapists, for different reasons and with different goals. In many cases, coaching is an ideal modality to help clients explore their need for a higher level of care—the kind that only psychotherapy can provide—bridging clients from a place of overwhelm toward or beyond their work in the care of a licensed therapist.
Here’s what I love most about my professional exposure, experience and identity: Most of my advanced-level training was designed primarily by and for licensed therapists; due to this gift, my work is profoundly trauma-informed and very therapeutically influenced. Many clients find my style to be “therapeutic” in nature—and because I practice exclusively within the mental health field (versus other kinds of coaching such as business or career coaching) , I consider myself to be a mental health professional. That said, I am decidedly NOT a licensed clinical therapist; all clients (and prospective clients) acknowledge this important fact EVERY time they schedule a session via my website. With emphatic focus on the value of informed consent, maintaining this clarity is of utmost importance; I warmly invite my colleagues and clients to honor the spirit and substance of this meaningful distinction.
Twelve Step fellowships (non-professional recovery groups that support addicted individuals and their loved ones) encourage new members to get a sponsor—a fellow member who has “been there, done that and lived to tell about it.” Sponsors guide sponsees through the Twelve Steps, suggesting how they solved similar problems through their experiences, all within the framework of a traditional Twelve Step recovery community. Sponsorship is a voluntary act of service, comprising a non-professional, non-regulated and non-monetary relationship; it’s anchored by the sponsor’s personal experience, and it doesn’t require or recognize any professional qualifications. By contrast, the services I provide in coaching, consultation and supervision comprise a professional, regulated and paid relationship; it may integrate my own personal experience, but our agreements are anchored by my formal training, skillset and methodology.
Because I believe that trauma survivors thrive on exploring and owning our choices, I don’t ask my clients to make any long-term or locked-in commitments. (I learned long ago that trauma-informed care means never backing survivors into a corner.)
As much as I anticipate I’ll enjoy working with you, I’ll also be very happy to see you “go!” Believe it or not, coaching, consultation and supervision are often considered “successful” when the experience comes to an obvious and imminent end.
Because each client is unique, there is no universal timetable for coaching, consultation or supervision. Many professionals ask for a 90 day commitment from clients, reviewing the situation progressively beyond that.
There’s some sound psychology behind that timeframe, as meaningful and sustainable habits take a measurable amount of time to anchor and establish. And it’s important to note that you may not see results immediately from our earliest sessions; sometimes it takes a while for us to find our groove and generate our momentum, and other times (especially when navigating through trauma) things may seem to get worse before they get better.
I consider it my ethical responsibility to help my clients recognize your own personal progress. I’m ethically responsible to notice when there may be a shift in the value you’re receiving from our work together, so I’ll teach you to measure your progress with tangible milestones—including the milestone that indicates that our professional relationship has fulfilled its intended purpose.
Coaching, consultation and supervision are a remarkably flexible professions—especially in our post-pandemic age of virtual and distance operations. Some practitioners prefer to work in traditional offices, seeing clients face-to-face. Others work exclusively by telephone, video chat, email and text. Some of us are public speakers, teach workshops and facilitate groups. Others offer daily support, on-call services and emergency sessions.
This “flexibility factor” is practical and beneficial, both for clients and practitioners. Yet with all these variables, when it comes to my work with you, one thing is of paramount importance: that YOU, my client, feel comfortable, safe and personally supported. You deserve to grow in ways that accommodate your needs, preferences, limitations, learning style and schedule.
As you consider hiring me as your coach, consultant or supervisor, I encourage you to speak up for what suits you best! Ask for what you need; I’ll provide it if I can, or I’ll refer you to someone who might be a better fit.
Coaching, consultation and supervision are rarely boring; even in the midst of heavy duty topics like relational trauma, we find ways to laugh together, smile together and inspire one another.
These modalities do WORK—but like any meaningful endeavor, they requires big work to get big results.
My clients don’t hire me to water down the truth, to express empty enthusiasm, or to offer pretty platitudes. As a practitioner, I’m trained to support my clients in your stated goals; as a trauma-informed practitioner, I’ll commit to approach your goals thoughtfully, with care and tenderness and respect and sensitivity, building upon bedrock values like autonomy, agency and empowerment. Here’s what that looks like:
- I will ask you to make commitments—to yourself and to me—to practice new skills and habits between sessions. I will only ever ask for commitments we both agree you can handle. Let this be one relationship where accountability meets gentleness and authenticity.
- I will always be honest with you. (In my experience, most human beings have been lied to enough for one lifetime.) At times, this may involve saying things you’d prefer not to hear. In moments like these, I will do my best to balance directness with sensitivity. I invite you to be equally honest with me. Let this be one relationship where honesty is a two-way street.
- I will ask you to try new things. This will come into play when “old ways” of doing things are no longer working. I will ask you to be brave and creative and open-minded. I may invite you to the edge of your comfort zone, but I will do so with consideration and respect. Let this be one relationship where you can experiment, taking new risks and exploring new paradigms.
- When you’re going through something painful, we’ll proceed gently, not aggressively. We’ll create time and space to facilitate your healing, at your pace. We’ll also practice techniques that get you to a stronger, less fragile place.
At its essence, this work is all about YOU. It’s about your needs, your convictions, your priorities and your process. As your coach, consultant and/or supervisor I’m committed to “hold space” for you as my client, space that honors your progress, facilitating your journey in whichever direction you want to go. (Click here for an excellent article on “holding space” by one of my favorite trainers and mentors, Heather Plett.)
As we approach the idea of working together, here are eleven ways I promise to meet you where you’re at:
- I will listen to you—not to judge you, but to understand you. I believe you deserve to be heard.
- I will validate you. Your experiences are legitimate, and your feelings deserve to be meaningfully addressed.
- I will emphasize the importance of self-care: It’s a full-time job that only you can do.
- I will help you clarify your own internal convictions—yours, not anybody else’s.
- I will motivate, champion and compel you. That means, I’ll hold you to your own highest standards.
- I will encourage you to establish an effective and accessible support network, one that meets your needs, first and foremost.
- I will ask you “the tough questions.” I will invite you to practice gut-level honesty with yourself.
- I will expose you to a broad spectrum of tools and resources, prompting you to discover which suit you best.
- I will invite you to be yourself. I believe that sometimes, we all NEED to “just be.”
- I will remind you, as often as necessary, that you can get your own life back.
- I will believe the Eleven Reasons for Talking Back to Trauma on your behalf—until you can experience them fully for yourself.
Hopefully by now, I’ve answered many of your questions about trauma-informed coaching, consultation and supervision (in general) and my own practice (specifically). If you’re inspired to move forward with the process, I’ll ask you to do three things, right off the bat:
- Click here to schedule a FREE 30-minute New Client Consultation. If you prefer, you can use this same link to schedule a longer paid session instead (50, 80, 110 or 170 minutes) by applying the coupon code 30FREE to proportionately discount a paid session.
- Click here to read in full my current Business Policies document. You will be asked to acknowledge and agree to these policies when scheduling every session.
- Click here to read and submit your answers to my New Client Connection Questions. This process will take approximately one hour; please consider that time YOUR initial investment in our coaching journey! This form is not required before your first coaching session, but the sooner you submit it the more focused and productive our first sessions will be.
And, that’s a wrap! If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 310-415-3614 (call or text) or firstname.lastname@example.org.