+ What brought you to coaching?
The short answer: A combination of a long-term interest in personal development, first-hand experiences of loss and growth; leadership roles in the world of entrepreneurship, and volunteering in mental health.
The long answer: For a long time, I'd had a real interest in personal development and psychology. I'd experienced a number of deep losses that had led to soul-searching on a personal level, and I also cared about connecting with others, helping them to flourish, and lead lives that felt meaningful and hope-filled.
In 2010 I moved to Vancouver, where I decided to start volunteering at a local suicide and crisis prevention centre. I quickly found that the calls and chats I took from people in distress were some of the most meaningful hours of my week. They allowed for a rare intimacy, where people would share with me things that they had sometimes never told anyone. I felt privileged by the trust they placed in me, and by the difference I was helping to make. I began training incoming volunteers in empathy, active listening, self-management and risk assessment - and to think seriously about training in counselling psychology.
At the same time, I was working in the fast-paced and chaotic world of entrepreneurship. I was helping to lead and scale a rapidly-growing consultancy, while also providing support to SMEs and start-ups. As I went through the ups and downs at our growing company, and I supported our clients in their own entrepreneurial journeys, I became fascinated by the people dimension to growing a successful business. What was it that made some leaders powerful motivators? Why did some entrepreneurs self-sabotage? What was it that inspired us as humans? How could I help my own team flourish?
That's where I discovered coaching. It felt like a perfect fit between my love of psychology and people development, and my passion for leadership, entreprenuership, and healthy organizations.
+ Where did you train?
I trained with the ICF-accredited Coaches Training Institute, the oldest and largest in-person training school in the world. CTI developed the Co-Active Coaching model, and has been a major influencer in the development of the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
I've also taken training through the Emotional Intelligence Training Company, Psychometrics Canada, and Case Western Reserve University. I'm cerrified in two psychometric tools: the EQ-i 2.0 (which measures emotional and social intelligence), and the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (the world's most widely-used personality test).
+ I haven't been coached before. How is it different to therapy?
In a rather charming nutshell, therapy pulls out the weeds, and coaching cultivates the flowers.
Therapy tends to view clients from a medical model, where the therapist is trained to diagnose disorders and design treatment plans. Generally a therapist will explore the origins of unhealthy behaviours and thought patterns in order to heal them. With a therapist, it's more likely that you'll dig deep into causes and long-running patterns so that they can be understood and resolved.
Coaching doesn't approach clients from a medical model, and we're not trained to diagnose or treat mental illness. Our relational dynamic is one of equals: you are the expert in your life; I am your partner, champion, challenger and guide into unexplored corners. Together we may loosen the soil around the weeds, but the primary emphasis is on cultivating the good seeds so that they flourish.
From a practical perspective, that means that we don't spend as much time in sessions exploring the origin of why you might feel, think or behave the way you do. Some of this will come up, and we'll acknowledge it, but our focus will be present/future rather than past/present. In other words, instead of asking 'why and from where?', we'll ask 'what do you want? what's next?'
+ What can I expect as a client?
Each coaching programme is customized to meet your needs and help you achieve your goals, which we establish early on. You'll find that in our meetings, you'll do most of the talking. I'll ask questions, mirror back what I'm seeing, help elicit ideas and next steps, challenge and provoke you when neeeded, stretch you and champion you.
Most of your growth will take place between sessions, as you take action to implement the changes that you say you want to make. Do make sure you carve out this time: it makes a big difference.
+ Why do you coach virtually?
The best coaching can be virtual. Meeting via Zoom (my online platform) minimizes distractions and helps us have a really focused conversation. It also cuts out travel time, making coaching more affordable and accessible.
+ Is everything I tell you kept confidential?
Absolutely! I abide by the Code of Ethics of both the ICF and the EMCC, which state that everything you tell me is confidential unless I'm bound by law to reveal it. If I'm coaching you in a corporate setting, you choose what to disclose to your employer about our sessions, not me.
+ Hey! Where's your accent from?
A bit of everywhere! I was born in Scotland, but grew up cross-culturally, studied languages, and have lived in a number of countries (Scotland, England, Guatemala, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Bolivia, Argentina and Canada). You'd be surprised at how often people tell me that I've learned really good English ;-)
In 2017, I moved from Vancouver to Edinburgh. So, Scotland is now home, and Canada is my second home.
Any other questions? I'd love to answer you personally!