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When Trauma and Coaching Intersect

written byJoan Ridsdelon 26/10/2018

“You never know what events are going to transpire to get you home.” – Og Mandino

Call it fate or life’s design, one defining moment changed the course of my life and brought me “home”. At the heart of this event was coaching and a strong desire to live my life to the fullest. 

The following is one chapter in a story of how trauma and coaching changed my life.  

Many years ago, a colleague suggested I pursue coach training – it was an emerging and promising process that offered an alternative to counseling and consulting. I was a new social worker building my practice and career, and as a new mom as well, I didn’t have the space, time or finances to pursue it. 

Fast forward to 2015. 

With grown children and a career that was heading towards retirement, I found myself once again drawn to coaching. I remembered the encouragement I had received from my colleague many years ago and her belief that in time coaching would explode. It has. It is now estimated by the International Coaching Federation that there are over 53,000 coaches in the world with 92% of them working as coaches.

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I researched all the options for training and found Erickson Coaching International. I was excited to go back to school and formalize the coaching I included in my social work practice. Erickson was a good fit with my previous training in NLP and other modalities

Could it be that I would finally fulfill a long-term dream of becoming a coach? 

I registered with Erickson and was thrilled to begin Module I of The Art & Science of Coaching, despite those nagging, negative voices that bubble up and attempt to derail us, even while working behind the scenes to keep us safe.  

It was during my training that our family experienced a massively traumatic event. My brother was kidnapped by international terrorists and held captive for 7 months. Everything I believed about life, humanity, values and the inherent good in people was turned upside down. 

Our lives would never be the same. Life can change on a dime. This was a defining moment. 

Faced with uncertainty for what felt like an eternity and completely helpless in a bizarre situation, I knew that it was important to continue training to become a coach. 

Why was it important? 

  • Training was scheduled and predictable
  • I had something to look forward to and positive to focus on
  • I met some amazing people
  • It gave me hope that my dream of becoming a coach and owning my own business was possible during a time when hope was limited

My brother’s life ended violently in the spring of 2016. It took months to muster up the energy and desire to get back to preparing for my oral exam.

The question I finally had to answer was “If not now, when?” Quitting wasn’t an option and so I forged ahead, recognizing that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain – those nagging negative voices were finally quieter.  

I graduated as an Erickson Certified Professional Coach in November of 2016, grateful that I continued to learn powerful questions and tools that I would use to navigate my way through grief, loss, and trauma and emerge with the clarity of purpose, a strong voice, and the determination to live life to the fullest. 

A wise woman told me never to waste a good trauma. 

I took her advice and stepped into coaching with all the courage and energy I could muster. My dream of owning a coaching business and finally doing what I am passionate about is here.

Life can change on a dime. 

As coaches, we help our clients work their way through defining moments and hold the space for them to reignite or define their purpose, helping them to navigate changes to identity, beliefs, values and how they show up in the world. 

We are privileged to be let in to witness their stories of courage, resilience, and strength during those messy and traumatic moments that end up creating clarity, purpose, and meaning. 

How has coaching changed your life?