Are you unintentionally Re-Traumatizing your clients?
We all know that good coaches are the ones who recognize when their clients aren't taking action. What if I told you that excellent coaches also understand why? There are many ways trauma can come out in a client's journey: procrastination, helplessness, victim mindset and self-doubt to name a few. If this is something you've experienced with your coaching clients or want to learn more about how to help them then read on!
Everyone likes to be acknowledge and encouraged, so it's no wonder that most coaches think that the best way to motivate their clients to take action is by using positive reinforcement. Whether they're celebrating accomplishments in the group, providing incentives, setting deadlines, or calling people out on their bullshit, each of these can be really effective but they can also be really damaging, too.
The reason people don't take action is not because they aren't motivated, it's because they're doubtful. Sometimes they're doubtful that the program will actually work. But usually, they're doubtful that they will really be able to make progress.
When someone is suffering with self-doubt, the normally encouraging activities have the opposite effect. You end up highlighting what they haven't accomplished by highlighting what others have done. They feel worthless because they're struggling to reach the deadlines. They feel hopeless because the incentives seem impossible to reach. And when you call them out on their bullshit, they feel like a little kid being called to go to the principal's office because they're in trouble. All of these can be extremely damaging and cause them to feel retraumatized.
Simple phrases such as "you can do this," "no excuses," and "it's all about mindset" when someone doesn't really believe it fuels the self-doubt even more. Self-doubt often leads to feelings of inadequacy and insecurity which leads to more self-doubt. And yet, as coaches we want to help. We focus on the positive trying to be mindful of their feelings. But this focus on trying to be positive for the sake of being positive, even when it's not authentic or helpful, is quite toxic.
When we coach with toxic positivity, we're not actually being positive at all. We're actually re-traumatizing our clients that are struggling with self-doubt.
So, how do we prevent re-traumatizing our clients?
The first step is to be aware of the signs that someone is feeling retraumatized. These signs can include things like procrastination, not taking action, making excuses, and rehashing the same concerns. If you see these signs, it's important to take a step back and assess what might be going on.
Understanding the 5 trauma responses and how to respond to each that I teach about in the Trauma-Informed Coaching certification program will help you guide your clients through the self-doubt and inaction towards confidence and progress.
Ready to uplevel your coaching skills? Enroll in my Trauma-Informed Coaching Certification program.