As so many clinicians are turning to coaching after having careers in mental health therapy or counseling, why do I find myself among them?
For me, the impetus for this change really came from a deep and personal recognition that healing the past is only part of our healing journeys. I had a bias throughout graduate school, where I was taught about coaching under the umbrella of the counseling field, that coaching was easy that 3rd level work or personal growth work was for those who couldn’t handle working with trauma, abuse and the heavier and often more heartbreaking aspects of counseling work. Yet, what I came to find when I entered into my own personal growth work, was how truly challenging and fundamentally transformative it was. It is imperative to keep in mind where you are going and what you want to achieve in your life as a part of your goals in counseling. For me, I had slipped into complacency and compassion fatigue and visioning and dreaming became a blind spot.
Your Liberation is My Agenda
I have always been passionate about serving the communities I identify with, particularly QTPoC. (Asian Americans were a disjointed peoples that I feared judgement from and whose politics were a crapshoot compared to mine. My love for my APIDA community came much later.) Yet, as a therapist, I was not able to serve people I knew and I steered away from community gatherings where I might run into clients for fear that it would tamper with the delicate work we were doing clinically for them to see me as an ordinary human instead of whatever transference or attachment figure I may have come to hold for them intrapsychically. I have always taken my work seriously in this regard. This was to my detriment, as I steadily became cut off from my community and the nourishment it provided me.
Additionally, I felt the bind of masking my personal life that comes with being a therapist and hesitated to write the pieces that I was so excited to write. I have always felt that for the marginalized populations that I have often served, my self-disclosures were integral in their hope and healing. It helped them know they were not alone and were seen. Yet, this always felt like a guilty aspect of my private practice work because of the ways self-disclosure is frowned upon in the field. I now see this as an extension of eurocentrism and colonialism and believe clinicians interested in decolonizing their work and practices to avoid these pitfalls, but I am not able to.
As someone who has always had to code switch to fit my culturally different and queer self into the frame works of others, I am no longer willing to do this for a profession. My wholeness is no longer something I am willing to compromise. And frankly, the results have been life giving.
As I have reclaimed my power, I have again found new life with writing. I am dreaming into the life I always wanted and manifesting it. My infatuation with being a wounded healer is over and I am finding real love for myself with my family and in the world. The actual world, not just the bubbles I clung to for safety during the tender periods where it was so essential. And believe me, it was.
My awakening to soul sadness and it’s opposite, soul or spiritual aliveness were the other significant influence to this transition.
The doldrums I experienced for years (if not decades) of my life, were best resolved when explorations of soul sadness/soul fulfillment, purpose and deep listening to myself became the center of my inner compass rather than physical, emotional or mental avenues for healing. Claiming this shift and stepping into it has been among the most courageous and terrifying decisions of my life, though it has always existed as an undercurrent throughout my life.
Our life’s journey is meant to be an adventure. And we are meant to be awake to it, walking as each step appears before us. Becoming a coach, and embracing ALL of the gifts of my being, has led me to this point.
To me, coaching is not a departure from what I have always done, it is the fullest, most unapologetic, and fully actualized iteration yet.