Evolution of a Career Counsellor and Coach
When I started my private practice as a Career Counsellor in 2011, I could not have anticipated the journey I was embarking on. Having worked with a Career Coach as a client in 2009, my hope was to step off the career carousel I had been riding for the past two decades. That carousel had been leading me nowhere, and indeed, almost ten years later, my willingness to step off that unfulfilling and meaningless ride, has led me to a place where I am living with true meaning and purpose. The memory of wandering the vocational desert for over two decades and then finally landing where I have a sense of belonging and helping people to discover their path to meaning is what motivates me to keep refining the work I do with my clients.
How do I define meaning? Defining meaning appears to be contentious, and I am open to the debate on this issue. In the role of Secretary for the Work and Meaning (WAM) Special Interest Group within the INPM, as a group, we have been collaborating to find an agreed upon definition. While I await your rebuttals, I will draw on the wisdom of one of my esteemed WAM peers, Luis Marrero. Taking the lead from Luis, and integrating my personal relationship with meaning, I define it as something that is profoundly important and significant. In addition to the syntax, there is an emotional level to meaning for me. It has a sense of meeting my true self; a quality of inner knowing. This aspect of meaning is much harder to articulate. I am deliberately stopping here, in the interests of time and word count. In sum, meaning is the catalyst for my pursuit of greater education and knowledge to help my personal and professional growth.
I would never have predicted the trajectory of my work with clients. I had some expectations of how my business would grow and develop, but most of those expectations have not actualized or have morphed into something more integral to a meaning-centric perspective. Having completed my counselling studies in 2011 after a 180-degree pivot from the corporate world, I started my private practice and iterated into my current profession as a Career Counsellor and Coach. In 2009, my own Career Coach had introduced me to Emotional Intelligence that had hitherto been a nebulous concept for me. I had always considered myself to be more cognitive, rational and logical in my approach to life. Emotions were messy and far too intangible and uncomfortable for me. The quest to acknowledge rather than suppress my emotions was incepted. Slowly and cautiously, I considered that I may learn to welcome another aspect of who I was. My counselling studies further validated recognition and awareness of my own Emotional Intelligence. Looking back, my initial work with clients as a career counsellor and coach was more cognitively biased. My own emotional vocabulary was limited, so I leaned in on vocational experiences and my education. I know I helped clients, but the quality of how I hold space for clients now feels much more holistic.
As my practice evolves, I am drawn to more somatic approaches to help balance out the cognitive. My supervisor and mentor Mahmud Nestman uses an approach that is very person-centered, somatic, and spiritual: Trust Oriented Therapy (TOT) calls on the client’s inner resources to inform his/her healing process. Having done literally hundreds of hours of individual and group training with Mahmud over the years, I am understandably influenced by his work. In 2016, I became an accredited Coherence Therapist, another somatically-focused approach to help clients overcome limiting beliefs using memory reconsolidation, and ultimately transform. I have attended Hakomi workshops since 2014. I currently study Medical Qigong integrating mind, body, and spirit in the healing process. In addition, I am training in Body Centered Coaching founded by Marlena Field. My deep curiosity is fueled by my passion to help clients source their inner wisdom to transform and heal. I have noticed that drawing on what I call Body Intelligence seems to more directly enable clients to access limiting thoughts and behaviours. Our minds can be so clever, often too clever, and create constructs and stories that keep us limited and small. I ascribe to Louise Hay when she says, “Don’t believe everything you think!” When I support clients to access, become body-aware, and help guide them to trust the information they receive somatically, the results can be significant and transformative.
Where is this all going? My mentor Mahmud Nestman once wisely quoted, “Uncertainty is the crucible of possibility.” I often use this with clients, both individually and in groups. It can be very interesting to observe the different reactions to these words. The details of my personal and professional path are happily not set in stone. It is enough to know that what I am doing is meaningful; that meaning is the seed of what motivates me as I continue to learn and develop as a career counsellor and coach. I have goals for my practice as it continues to grow, but I am not ready to share them publicly yet. I am excited about how my current studies and training will integrate into my practice. If you are curious about my meaning-centered work with clients and/or any of the methodologies I employ, I invite you to seek me out at the Meaning Conference in August this year. I will also be presenting with peers at the Coaching Symposium. I hope to see you there!