As a holistic business coach for the past 7 years, I’ve supported my clients (coaches, healers, and creative entrepreneurs) in the areas of strategy, mindset, and energy.
Now, as a trauma-informed business coach, I’m able to serve clients on an even deeper level. In this post I’ll share what caused me to become a trauma-informed coach, what it means, and how I’ll be integrating this work into my own coaching process going forward.
What is trauma?
For many people, the word “trauma” conjures up images of big life-shattering events, such as sexual assault, a life-threatening car accident, a medical scare, or child abuse.
The above are examples of what is considered “Big T” trauma. But in reality, trauma exists on a continuum. Even one seemingly “small” incident can make a big imprint on us, especially if it happened when we were young.
Trauma also includes common childhood occurrences like divorce/separation, bullying, and not having our emotional needs met, to name a few.
It’s important to note that trauma is not defined by the event itself, but our experience of the event.
For example, you and I could have the same exact thing happen to us, and our nervous systems and bodies will be affected differently.
The sad, but human truth is: Many of us are living with some type of trauma. And yes, this trauma shows up in business.
What is trauma-informed coaching?
The term “trauma-informed” is becoming more common these days, and for good reason: A trauma-informed approach is necessary to provide the safest and most effective conditions for real transformation to take place within the coaching relationship.
A good definition of trauma informed coaching comes from this website: the practice of understanding the presence of trauma in a coach-client relationship and how to use it as a guide for resilience and solution-forward resolution.
But that definition doesn’t quite cover all of what the trauma-informed coaching entails.
Key principles of trauma-informed coaching:
- Create a safe coaching environment and business practices for everyone, including those who have experienced trauma
- Seek to avoid traumatizing your coaching clients, as coaching can go deep into the psyche and have lasting effects
- Practice ethical marketing and sales practices to not cause or perpetuate any trauma on a greater level
- Seek to understand the client at the individual level, and all of the past experiences, including trauma, that make up the whole of who they are
- Have the ability to hold perspectives that are different from your own, understanding that each client’s experiences are valid and real, and therefore not (intentionally or unintentionally) gaslighting your clients
Trauma informed coaching is the practice of understanding how past trauma can show up in current situations for clients, how to support a client in understanding it, and ensuring that you lead coaching clients into a psychologically safe space, where they won’t be further traumatized.
Why I became a trauma-informed business coach
As a certified life and business coach for the past 7 years, I’ve supported my clients to start and grow businesses aligned with who they are. My initial coaching certification through IPEC provided me a great deal of training to support my clients, as did my professional background in marketing and business.
But, like any and all forms of coaching — whether it’s business coaching, health coaching, or relationship coaching, the CLIENT Is at the center of all the work we do. And each client brings with her a unique perspective, background, and experiences — that includes trauma as well.
I noticed that as I coached my business coaching clients through experiences like impostor syndrome, fear of being seen, and perfectionism, that these issues ran deep.
In other words, it wasn’t like these things showed up for the first time in their business. Often these were deep-seated fears that stemmed from childhood experiences and/or past trauma.
So I knew I wanted to support my clients on a deeper level so they could address these issues at the core — getting to the heart of them so they could heal them for good.
After all, these aren’t just “mindset blocks,” they are learned coping strategies that people develop in order to survive. And often unconsciously, we carry these into our businesses.
So in 2021, I enrolled in a coaching program through Safe Space Institute to become a trauma-informed coach and got certified in early 2022.
What clients should know about trauma-informed business coaching
Being a trauma-informed business coach doesn’t mean that I treat trauma. Trauma should still be treated by professional therapists.
What being a trauma-informed business coach means is that:
- I am informed and educated about the nuances that show up when a client has had past trauma and I have tools, practices, and approaches to create a safe space for a client to share, be heard, and supported.
- My own approach to business and to coaching is focused on the safety of my clients, meaning I will not to the best of my ability, cause more harm to you or add more trauma. (This can happen, even with — and especially — business coaches!)
Today, as a trauma informed business coach, I coach each individual as a whole, including whatever past life experiences, trauma, and beliefs they bring with them.
My trauma informed business coaching takes into account all aspects of the business owner as a whole. (This is what I call holistic business coaching.) Because what shows up in one area will show up in another, and everything is connected.
What you can expect from trauma-informed business coaching
My trauma-informed coaching certification offered me a new way of addressing trauma, triggers, and tension where it lives — in the body.
While the mind may reveal thoughts and limiting beliefs, it’s often the body that holds the answers to the deeper issues.
Through the trauma-informed somatic coaching process, you’re guided to explore the feelings and sensations that show up in your body with the intention of healing them.
As a part of my certification, I now use somatic (body-based) coaching techniques to help clients become aware of past trauma and how it’s impacting their business, find and address the trauma that still lives in their bodies, and learn to support themselves through their healing, so they can break free from past patterns.
This new way of supporting clients can help in addressing challenges like impostor syndrome, perfectionism, fear of being seen, and more that can stop them from reaching their potential in their business.
So often, when mindset coaching has not produced the results desired, it’s because there’s something deeper at play. Somatic coaching can help get down to that deeper level and address the block at the core, inside the body,
Trauma-informed coaching may include somatic experiencing
“Somatic” means “in the body” and somatic experiencing means identifying what we are experiencing in the body. From a tightness in your chest to a stabbing pain in your back, to an empty feeling in your stomach, we access your past experiences through your bodily sensations.
So in somatic coaching, while we identify the thoughts and beliefs around the fears, we actually go into the feeling itself with the entry point of how it currently presents itself in your body.
The truth is, the body has more wisdom than the mind will ever have. The body stores memories, including trauma. This is why we have such visceral reactions to things, especially things that are related to the types of trauma we have experienced.
This is why somatic coaching is such a powerful tool when it comes to uncovering and healing deeper issues.
How I support my clients as a trauma informed business coach
I’ve learned so much supporting my clients in addressing these challenges through a somatic experience.
While I still believe mindset has a place, I believe you can’t separate the mind and body, as many training programs do. And that what’s most effective — and lasting — is being able to address these thoughts and concerns at the origin.
What we address in trauma-informed business coaching
We address strategy and mindset, of course, and now we can also address the deeper feelings that inevitably crop up when we’re doing something as scary as starting a business, sharing our soulwork, and putting ourselves out there.
As a result, my clients now are able to:
- Better understand themselves and why they experience certain blocks
- Support themselves, navigating fears and challenges in their business,
- Experience an increased sense of self-trust in their business,
- Cultivate tools and practices to help ensure they are tending to the most important asset in their business: themselves.
Ready to experience trauma informed business coaching?
If you want to learn more about trauma informed business coaching and how it might help you, I encourage you to sign up for a free consultation here.