Embracing a Trauma-Informed Approach to Guide Leaders and their companies though ever-changing and often unpredictable times…
In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, the role of a coach has transcended its traditional boundaries. As leaders and their teams grapple with unprecedented challenges, a new paradigm is emerging — one that places the individual’s well-being at the forefront.
Decades ago, when I entered the coaching profession, I recall my clients’ coaching sessions would focus on ways to improve their strategies for enhancing productivity and profitability.
Occasionally, the coaching topics would touch into their workplace challenges, occasional struggles with stress, and navigating emotionally charged personalities. However, intertwined with
Today, my clients and the organizations they represent are recognizing the vital link between a leader’s well-being, their team’s welfare, and the company’s overall success. This shift signifies a profound evolution in coaching philosophy, transitioning from conventional business, and marketing strategies toward a trauma-informed approach.
What is a trauma-informed approach in coaching?
For many the word trauma doesn’t resonate. Had I not spent the last decade working through the lens of a trauma-informed approach I wouldn’t have recognized it either.
Trauma is any event or ongoing experience that impacts our sense of safety, security, belonging, and dignity that leaves a lasting imprint. While most will refer to experiences during childhood as the root of trauma, anything that leaves a person’s nervous system taxed for a period of time can have similar effects on their well-being and ability to perform at their best.
Here are a few examples:
For someone dealing with chronic stress or trauma, excessive micromanagement can exacerbate feelings of lack of control or trigger past experiences of being controlled or criticized.
- Conflict or Confrontation:
Engaging in conflict or facing confrontation can be highly stressful for anyone, but for someone with a history of trauma, it may trigger feelings of fear, anxiety, or even re-traumatization.
- Lack of Supportive Environment:
A workplace that doesn’t offer a supportive, growth-oriented, empathetic culture can be especially difficult for someone dealing with chronic stress or trauma. Feeling isolated or unsupported can worsen their mental health.
- Unexpected Changes or Uncertainty:
Sudden changes or lack of clarity in job responsibilities, policies, or organizational structure can be particularly challenging for individuals already dealing with stress or trauma. It can lead to heightened feelings of instability.
- Excessive Workload or Pressure:
An overwhelming workload or constant pressure to perform can further contribute to an already stressful environment for someone dealing with chronic stress or trauma.
- Bullying or Harassment:
Experiencing any form of bullying, harassment, or discrimination can be deeply traumatic and re-trigger past experiences of abuse or mistreatment.
- Lack of Clear Communication:
Poor communication from management or colleagues can create confusion and anxiety, especially for someone already struggling with chronic stress or trauma.
- Unpredictable Schedule or Long Hours:
Irregular or excessively long work hours can disrupt routines and exacerbate feelings of overwhelm for someone already dealing with high stress levels.
- Negative Feedback or Criticism:
Constructive feedback is essential for growth, but overly harsh or constant criticism can be overwhelming for someone already dealing with chronic stress or trauma.
- Exposure to Traumatic Events:
Depending on the nature of the job, exposure to distressing or traumatic events (e.g., healthcare workers witnessing trauma, and first responders dealing with emergencies) can compound existing trauma or stress.
And this is the short list. But the important thing to recognize here is, even if someone doesn’t have a history of trauma, these experiences can put anyone’s nervous system into overdrive and place them into a zone of stress which impacts who they are and how they are with others.
Understanding Trauma-Informed Coaching
Trauma-informed coaching recognizes that past experiences, both big and small, shape an individual’s responses and behaviors. It acknowledges that unresolved traumas and chronic stress can significantly impact a person’s ability to lead effectively, make strategic decisions, and navigate challenges.
By adopting a trauma-informed approach, you can create a safe and supportive space for clients to recognize any conditioned habits arising out of the past in the present while forging a path towards a more empowered way of being.
Incorporating a trauma-informed lens allows for a deeper level of connection and understanding. It encourages clients to embrace vulnerability and confront the patterns that may be holding them back. By acknowledging the whole person, we unlock the potential for profound personal and professional development.
Evolving Your Coaching Toolkit
Just as a ship must adapt to changing tides, so too must a coach adapt their toolkit to the evolving needs of their clients. While traditional business and marketing strategies remain relevant, they are now complemented by a more nuanced understanding of the human experience.
This includes techniques such as mindfulness practices, somatic awareness, and trauma-sensitive language, all of which contribute to a more holistic and effective coaching experience.
Empowering Leaders for the Future
In these uncertain times, the role of a coach extends far beyond business acumen. It encompasses emotional intelligence, resilience-building, and a commitment to personal growth.
By embracing a trauma-informed approach, I am confident in my ability to guide leaders and entrepreneurs through the rough waters of today’s challenges, equipping them with the tools and insights needed to not only survive but thrive.
Charting a New Course
Change is the only constant in the world of business. Over the years, my coaching practice has witnessed the turbulence of shifting markets, emerging technologies, and evolving consumer behaviors. It became evident that conventional coaching methods, while valuable, were insufficient in providing comprehensive support in today’s complex environment.
As the coaching landscape continues to evolve, it is imperative that coaches adapt to meet the evolving needs of their clients. Embracing a trauma-informed approach is not a departure from traditional coaching; it is an enhancement—a recognition of the interconnectedness of personal and professional growth. By working with the whole person, we empower leaders and entrepreneurs to navigate today’s challenges with grace, resilience, and a renewed sense of purpose.
Together, we chart a new course towards a brighter future. View our Trauma Informed Coach Certification and prepare yourself to help those you care about the most!