Did you know about 70% of people in the U.S. have experienced at least one traumatic event?
Although the sources of trauma vary — natural disasters, abuse, medical emergencies, etc. — all result in lingering physical and emotional effects. Trauma can profoundly impact a person’s life, affecting their well-being and daily routine.
And if left unchecked, trauma can contribute to depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other critical mental illnesses. People suffering after a traumatic event need guidance to learn valuable skills to cope and heal — and that’s precisely what a trauma coach does.
Here’s all you need to know about trauma coaches as well as their roles and responsibilities.
What is a trauma coach?
Trauma coaching, a type of life coaching, focuses on helping clients repair their mental health after experiencing a traumatic event. This practice is a type of recovery coaching, as it aims to promote healing and help clients overcome the emotional effects of whatever they’ve lived through. Trauma coaches often help clients assess their anxiety, develop a therapeutic practice, and feel empowered to get over their trauma symptoms.
Because trauma coaches deal with sensitive subjects, they must possess specific traits. These include:
- Mental strength: These coaches often work with survivors of devastating events. They must have the mental fortitude to deal with these difficult topics and care for their mental health.
- Open mind: Judgment is a significant barrier to recovery, especially for survivors of abusive situations. A trauma coach should approach each client with an unbiased mind and a non-judgmental outlook, creating a safe space where the person can recover.
- Trauma’s understanding: Coaches must be fully aware of trauma’s physical and emotional effects. And once they can assess a client’s trauma levels, coaches can choose the appropriate wellness practices to help clients heal.
Trauma coach versus therapist
Some people may look at the scope of trauma coaching and think, “Isn’t that what a therapist does?” In some ways, yes. Therapists also help patients learn valuable coping skills to improve their mental health and overcome trauma symptoms. But the degree of care is vastly different if we compare the two.
Therapists can diagnose their patients, prescribe behavior or medication if necessary, and generally direct them on their mental health journey. Trauma coaches, however, help educate clients and guide their decisions but don’t give a “doctor’s order” to direct behavior. Trauma coaching is an excellent resource for individuals transitioning out of therapy after struggling with a mental illness, and coaching clients can always move into therapy if they require a deeper level of care.
How to become a trauma coach in 5 steps
If you want to use your life coaching skills to help people work through depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, trauma coaching could be a rewarding career path. Here’s what you need to do to start working in this coaching niche:
- Learn to recognize and understand trauma: It’s paramount that all trauma coaches have an in-depth understanding of the nuances and complexities surrounding trauma. You need to recognize trauma however it manifests in a client, from physical pain to emotional distress. You also need to understand why the body or mind gets stuck in a trauma response and how to help your clients get unstuck.
- Consider earning a trauma coaching certification: Enroll in a trauma coach certification program to ensure your clients they’re in safe hands. While certification isn’t mandatory or required to be a trauma coach, organizations like the International Coaching Federation (ICF) offer programs that provide a more complete education on this sensitive coaching practice. Becoming a certified trauma coach ensures you have all the training necessary to provide your clients with the best coaching experience and boosts your credibility.
- Build empathy and relate to trauma: While learning about trauma and filling your toolbox with coaching techniques and modalities helps clients, developing your capacity for empathy is essential. People with trauma need someone to relate to them and offer sincere kindness and sensitivity.
- Structure and conduct effective coaching sessions: Once you’re a certified trauma coach with clients, you must develop a trauma-sensitive process for all your coaching sessions. This means creating a safe space where your clients can open up (this may take a few sessions to establish) and using the time you have together to address trauma symptoms and learn to regulate them. Refrain from giving clients homework between sessions, as clients may feel unsafe and vulnerable. Also, address each session on a case-by-case basis to meet clients where they are on their healing journey.
- Encourage clients to dive deep and heal: Finally, support clients through their recovery journey. While you shouldn’t pull clients out of their comfort zones too fast, prompt them to eventually feel confident to dive deep and address their trauma head-on. Remember, you’re a guide in this process, showing clients that it’s okay to venture deeper into the feelings that affect their daily life.
How to know if someone suffers from trauma
As a trauma coach, you’ll learn that clients experience trauma in many ways. However, some common symptoms indicate a person suffers from trauma — even if it’s undiagnosed. These symptoms include the following:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Mood swings
- Poor concentration
- Racing heartbeat
- Chronic illness
Change people’s lives through coaching
Traumatic experiences can keep people from being their fullest, happiest selves. Therefore, trauma coaches play a vital role in helping people regain their lives and overcome roadblocks. This can be gratifying for someone who wants to make a difference for the people around them.
Working as a trauma coach can be difficult, but the benefits outweigh the challenges. And thanks to Practice, managing your coaching business won’t get in the way of your important work. We’ve designed a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to ease your work on the admin front, helping you focus on what you do best –– coaching clients.