I am a clinical psychologist by training. I had a psychotherapy
practice and taught graduate courses for many years. In January
2002 I had the opportunity to go to Vietnam as a volunteer,
to help teach English at a foreign language center in Cao
Lanh, a town in the Mekong Delta.
I had never been to Asia and I had never done any international
volunteer work. The experience had a profound impact on me.
Vietnam is a compelling, fascinating country and the people
there are some of the kindest, and most generous I've ever
met. But what affected me most was that the experience of
being there and doing something completely outside the realm
of psychology, was as rewarding and fulfilling as any other
experience I'd ever had. This realization acted as a catalyst
When I returned
home, I spent some time clarifying my values and priorities,
and developing a picture of how I wanted my life to look.
I became a clinical psychologist for a number of reasons.
The most important was that I wanted to help people become
happier and more productive, and ultimately be able to achieve
their potential. I believed I could, in my own small way,
help the world become a better place if more people were feeling
good about themselves and what they were doing with their
lives. That desire had not changed. However, my experience
in Vietnam helped me see there were other avenues through
which I could accomplish the same goals. I knew I wanted more
opportunities to travel and to engage in international humanitarian
work. As I thought more about how to make this happen, I realized
I needed to create more balance and flexibility in my life
and in my work.
While I was engaged
in my soul-searching, I received some information about an
organization that trains mental health professionals to add
life coaching to their practices. As I explored coaching,
I was intrigued by its value for clients who are motivated
to explore new possibilities in their lives. I also
saw that the variety of ways coaching is conducted would allow
me the opportunity I was seeking to re-focus my life.
I began my coaching
education at the Institute for Life Coaching Training (ILCT).
The ILCT program is accredited by the International Coaching
Federation. The founder and core teaching faculty at ILCT
are clinical psychologists; the courses are geared toward
trainees with advanced degrees in mental health or career
counseling. I believe I received an excellent grounding in
life coaching and found several wonderful mentors through
my training there.
Life coaching has
proven to be a wonderful counter-balance for my psychotherapy
practice. Though many of the skills I use in coaching
are those I've developed over years as a therapist, I apply
those skills very differently. Coaching is highly focused
and though coaches and clients are in a partnership, the clients
take responsibility for the outcomes. Typically, coaching
clients want to make a change or several changes in their
lives. They may be in transition, or reexamining their priorities
to attain greater fulfillment and a clearer sense of purpose
and meaning in their lives. In short, many of my coaching
clients are experiencing what I did upon my return from Vietnam!
I find coaching rewarding on many levels. I feel blessed
to be able to help others make changes in their lives.
And coaching has allowed me to engage in humanitarian efforts
that may make a difference in the lives of those I seek to
serve. It certainly has helped me make my own dream