Trauma-Informed Coaching: Myths from Facts
Therapy is not the only way to fully heal from traumatic or abusive situations. If you have moved past an acute stress or PTSD and are seeking more help in your healing journey, trauma-informed coaching could prove useful.
As a life and trauma-informed coach, I have received specialized training in comprehending and addressing the effects of trauma on individuals. If you are curious about the work I do, this article is for you.
In this article, we will discuss how a life coach can help you lead a productive and happy life as a business owner and leader.
First, let’s discuss the qualities of an excellent trauma-informed coach.
Qualities of Excellent Trauma-Informed Coach
Understands Childhood Trauma
It is common for abuse survivors to doubt the validity of their trauma story, saying things like:
“They couldn’t have done that!”
“My family member told me that it didn’t happen!”
“I must have been imagining things.”
“This happened to everyone I know.”
As a survivor tells their stories, sometimes I will see them shrink into a self-protective ball. Our bodies remember the trauma, even if our minds try to deny it.
A coach like myself is well-informed about the different types of trauma, such as physical, emotional, or psychological, and how it can manifest in people’s lives.
As a recovering PTSD survivor myself, I am keenly aware of potential triggers that may re-traumatize clients, and I am careful of my word choices during my coaching sessions.
Innocent words that trigger past pain
For example, my client, Andrew (not his real name), was always told by his sexually abusive father, “You’re doing good,” just prior to his father violating him. To most people, the phrase “You’re doing good” seems innocent and positive, but to Andrew, it was anything but uplifting.
It is my job as a coach to understand words or ideas that easily upset clients. Most often, these triggers are linked to past traumatic experiences.
Next, we will continue to discuss how avoiding assumptions is critical component in trauma-informed coaching.
Everyone is a unique person with unique experiences, and past traumatic experiences are no exception. Despite being a coach for over seven years, I am always learning new ways in which people react to past painful situations.
The danger of generalizing abuse
For example, not too long ago, I was interviewed to discuss my past childhood trauma. During the podcast, my interviewer threw out various pop-psychology buzzwords and idioms. As she spoke, I couldn’t help but want to correct her about how the trauma impacted me.
Generalizing traumatic experiences is detrimental to the healing process of survivors.
Each client has a unique perspective on their experiences. Their abuser robbed them enough, so it is vital to allow my clients the right to feel how they feel about their past.
Empowerment is a vital component of the healing process. If you have been victimized, used, or abused, being positive may seem foreign or strange. However, if you want to heal, you must learn to be your best personal-cheerleader and supporter.
Avoids the Drama Triangle
Reducing or eliminating turbulent relationships with others is a significant component of recovery and trauma-informed coaching.
If you grew up in a painful and dysfunctional family, it is easy to find yourself in one of three roles:
- prosecutor (constantly judging)
- rescuer (not letting people take responsibility for their actions)
- victim (avoiding their ability to communicate their wants or not wants with others)
The image below displays the Karpman drama triangle, which explains how victims of traumatic and abusive experiences relate to others as adults.
How trauma work can help you
Trauma work is invaluable, not just to help you in your recovery journey but also to teach you valuable intrapersonal and interpersonal skills.
Trauma-informed coaching can help you grow emotionally and spiritually through teaching how to practice boundaries and cope with difficult situations.
Practice Safety and Boundaries
One of the biggest issues I discuss with clients is their ability to recognize their feelings and communicate their wants or non-wants with others. While they were in an abusive situation, survivors learned to survive by ignoring or denying their feelings. After a while, they didn’t even recognize signs and symptoms of distress.
By creating a safe and supportive coaching space, my clients can learn how to communicate their needs without fear.
Offers Tools for Emotional Coping
If you want to live a life, you must learn how to cope with your emotions. This is not just limited to self-care.
My clients also learn how to:
- manage their work-life balance,
- prioritize their tasks to prevent burnout,
- improve their communication skills in their personal and professional life
- understand how cognitive distortions or thinking errors hurt them in business and life
These tools are important because in the past it felt much more comfortable to avoid or deny a stressful or uncomfortable situation.
Important note: Coaching, like therapy, moves as fast or as slow as the amount of work you put into it. If you are not committed to working through your problems, it will be reflected in the quality of your recovery program.
Despite all the good that can come from trauma-informed coaching, there is another side that you need to know. In the next section, I will describe some tell tale signs your healer is not for you.
But before you hire your next healer – know this
Just because someone is a therapist, coach or healer, it doesn’t mean they’re committed to healing work. This is something I wish I had known twenty years ago.
I know you might be thinking, ‘How can a healer not want to heal people?’
Well, the reasons are complex, but if I had to boil it down, there are two main reasons: familiarity and control.
Healers can become burnt out, tired and exhausted from breaking down emotional barriers after dealing with years of trauma work. They can feel detached and discounted from their work, much like a worker at a factory ‘clocking in’ and completing their daily assignments without caring about anything more than receiving their paycheck.
There are also healers who dislike humanity and find joy in controlling people. This stems from their own unresolved trauma, anxieties and insecurities.
It’s crucial to get to know your healer’s heart before starting a painful and meaningful recovery journey. Next, I will share my final thoughts regarding selecting a coach that will work for you.
The main focus of a trauma-informed coach is to create a safe and supportive environment for clients to address unresolved emotional issues. A trauma-informed life coach like myself recognizes that many people have experienced some form of trauma in their lives.
Also, a trauma-informed coach is not a substitute for mental health professionals or therapists, but they can complement the therapeutic process by providing additional support and guidance.
Coaches like myself work collaboratively with clients by helping them navigate their trauma, build resilience, and work towards their personal growth and goals.
If you are afraid of asking for help, I have a resource that can assist you.
Do you need help asking for assistance?
The information in this article is for informational purposes only. No material in this article or website is to be a substitute for professional medical and/or mental health advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you read from me or anyone else online.
Also, this article is not designed to diagnose or treat you or anyone with a suspected mental health illness. Please, if you need help, seek appropriate help from a lawyer, health care provider or law enforcement officer.