I guess that my journey as a coach began long before I ever coached my first client. More than ten years ago a friend in Taiwan, where I was living and teaching English, gave me a copy of Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” to read because I was going through a difficult time. I devoured the book and a seed was planted in my mind…that would suddenly sprout on 1 January 2008, when an unfortunate encounter with an uncovered manhole would be the spiritual awakening that saw me walk away from a lifelong love-hate relationship with alcohol, and be in my personal process of long-term recovery and a new spiritual, personal and professional direction in life.
I began my professional training as a coach while teaching at a women’s university in Saudi Arabia. I was trained by a gifted coach, Glenn Douglas-Haig of Inner Life Skills, and had plenty of willing “clients”, in the desert campus on the outskirts of Riyadh. While studying and practicing to become a life and business coach, I began to experience the empowering nature of coaching with regards to my personal substance abuse recovery.
Many of the early years of my recovery, and personal and spiritual process, had been done by listening to podcasts, Ted Talks and YouTube recordings, while being part of virtual recovery communities, like Women For Sobriety, whose Thirteen Powerful Affirmations got me through my first couple of years of recovery. But as I worked through the coaching curriculum it was plain to me that this was the missing link in really deepening my recovery and living in congruence with of my new lifestyle.
The life and business coaching I studied has formed an integral part of my coaching tool kit, but I wanted more that was in line with working in a recovery space, with individuals and groups that were challenged by substance abuse and addictive behaviour disorders.
And doing something I have never been very confident about doing, I started reaching out to individuals that popped up in my Google searches as being part of the niche modality of Recovery Coaching. Dr Louis Gonzales of Starting Point Academy was my first teacher and mentor, offering his wisdom and advice to me from across the globe. He introduced me to his work and teachings, gifting me the wonderful course that he has put together over the years that he has worked as a coach. Dr Lou continues to share his work with me, and I am ever grateful for his generosity and the part he has played in my recovery and professional development.
During this time I started to make inquiries into the South African recovery market trying to figure out how things worked back in Johannesburg, as I was planning to return home after more than ten years of living in various parts of Asia. The name David Collins kept coming up as the go to person in the Recovery Coaching industry. However, the addiction treatment and recovery industry is fraught with politics as I was soon to learn. Never being one to take the word of others I continued to make inquiries, while completing my Life & Business Coaching certification, and planning to return to SA.
On return to Johannesburg I immediately set about registering a business, writing a business plan and networking with people who seemed to have an idea about how Recovery Coaching fit into the addiction treatment space. And then one day not long into my venture a message from David appeared in my Google chat. I was a little intimidated that the man who was seen as the go-to on all things recovery coaching, but I accepted the invitation to visit The Foundation Clinic, and the rest as they say is history.
Since then David and I have worked closely together. Firstly co-developing the Recovery Wellness Programme at the clinic. This serves as the treatment and recovery centre’s outpatient and aftercare programme, and remains my real passion when it comes to the group coaching work that I do. Along with working as a facilitator at the clinic, delivering a variety of classes focused on long-term, purpose-driven, sustainable recovery, I am also an internal coach at the clinic, working with clients who are in the secondary phase of their addiction treatment programmes on an individual basis. Coaching is an extremely powerful intervention in this space, allowing clients the opportunity to start to focus on their personal and professional goals and plans following their inpatient treatment.
David has mentored, supported and guided me through the past years not only in my development as a coach, but also as a facilitator for the Ubuntu Academy of Coaching and Training (U-ACT) which trains recovery coaches. The recently SAQA-accredited training work is congruent with my personal values of education, knowledge and empowerment, as we train coaches to assist in the addiction challenges that individuals, families, communities and organisations face. Being part of the facilitation team allows me to draw on my 12 years of education experience and is an exciting professional space.
And all this is part of my passion to empower individuals and groups find their authentic purpose and meaning. Be The Change Coaching allows me the freedom and opportunities to collaborate with wonderful coaches in a number of projects and initiatives, such as the work I do with Alex Campbell around fitness, nutrition and lifestyle coaching. It is in these collaborations and private work where I get the chance to work with courageous men and women who are looking to live with passionate, wholehearted lives. Through a combination of coaching, business, positive-and change-psychology models, as well as drawing on the personal development work that I do, I believe that I am uniquely able to assist my clients in achieving their personal and professional aspirations.
The reason I am such a huge fan of the coaching approach is that it has changed my life for the better in so many ways, and continues to guide me as I grow, learn and develop in my roles as a woman, partner, friend, daughter, sister, coach and businesswoman.
I was recently awarded the IMCSA Master Coach Certification which is a real achievement for me and inspires me to continue to grow and develop in my coaching.