I read a post on LI by a therapist, complaining about coaches training in trauma, particularly all the training courses about trauma being marketed at coaches.

The post bothered me, a lot. Especially the attacks on coaches, who should basically “stay in their lane” (my paraphrasing).

So I had to go do some PQ reps and process what response I wanted to give. It took a couple of days to get there but I did.

Here’s the thing. Coaches come into contact with hundreds, if not thousands, of people in their careers.

People have wounds, especially the emotional and mental ones. Like, have you met someone who didn’t have any issues at all? Nope.

I know I have so many wounds, some generously given to me by others, some I have inflicted on myself through my own inner critic monologues.

Coaches being interested in trauma trainings is because we want to be informed, not because we want to be therapists. We are meeting people with trauma all the time. And often, people are coming to coaching because they’ve reached the limit of how therapy can help them (at least in my case that is true).

As Gabor Mate says, trauma is not what happened to you. It is the wound that is left inside because of what happened to you.

Being trauma informed helps me in so many ways:

  • Being more compassionate – people get stuck all the time. Understanding the psychology and neuroscience impacts of trauma/wounds helps me focus on supporting the person, not just on “getting it done”. As one client said to me “I’ve never been able to talk about this without being asked for a solution. It’s so liberating to just talk and be accepted as not broken“.
  • See the signs – perhaps the person in front of me would benefit from therapy. When I see the signs I can supportively discuss it with them, and help them find the support they need (therapy, meditation, exercise, gardening, arts and crafts). This also helps people realise that they’re not lazy, useless or whatever words they use to beat themselves up. Maybe they are stuck in a trauma response so they can’t access the part of the brain that lets them do the tasks.
  • Appreciate the magnificence – we are our most magnificent and beautiful when we show our scars. The marks that tell our story, that shaped us. And the fact that you are still standing, being functional, after all that? What a testament to your strength and creativity, that you managed to find a way, anyway.

You see, while therapy promises to fix you, coaches don’t.

We’re not in the fixing trade.

We’re in the “help you realise how awesome you already are” trade. The “this is what you’re made of, so what do you want to make?” trade. The “oh so this is what’s holding you back. Let’s get you to a place where taking action is possible” trade.

We’re not here to fix trauma. We’re here because when people get to know themselves and appreciate that, they do amazing things for the world and for themselves.

So when we understand trauma, we can do this all so much better.

We’re not trying to do therapy. Why would we, when coaching offers so much?

This is part of my Thought Piece Series, where I explore topics related to leadership and provide both answers and questions. My intention is to start meaningful conversations that help us move forward. Want to connect? Click here.