Here I am, in my early 40s, and dramatically changing my career. I have to say that I’m experiencing all the duality of feelings about this… excited and nervous, ready and unsure, confident and uncomfortable. Thankfully I’ve been learning to embrace all of these feelings (and many more) throughout the last 20 months in a Master’s program in Health and Wellness Coaching. This degree program supported and nurtured me as I dove deeply into feelings, desires, needs, dreams, and more while building the skills necessary to become an effective coach.
This desire to switch careers came as a surprise to me. I chose a meaningful and fulfilling career path in my early 20s that aligned with my values and strengths at the time. Feeling like the global realm was calling my name, I studied International Relations and traveled the world extensively in college (worldbeth@hotmail was my first real email address!). I then devoted several years and much energy to dual graduate programs, completing a Master’s degree in Public Health and a MA in International Development Studies at age 29. Though it wasn’t until I experienced loss and family medical trauma in my late 30s that I started waking up to the idea of moving into a more healing-centered career.
Whether engaged in disaster relief work, creating development programs for women in rural Africa, or supporting my family through health challenges, one thing became clear to me: I am most alive when I am helping people and connecting with them as individuals. When I reflect on who I am and where I’ve been, deep and empathetic human interaction is what animates me and what calls me.
My career discernment process happened to coincide with the Covid-19 crisis, which opened me up to new possibilities for life and work. As a feeler and an empath, I was deeply affected by the collective suffering of the world from the start of the pandemic. But also as an optimist and a spiritual being, I continue to feel a lot of hope for our collective and individual healing. I desperately wanted to be an active part of that collective and hopeful transformation and I decided that 2020 was the right time for me to embark on a journey into a healing field and a journey of becoming a change agent to help bring about not just “surviving” but “thriving” out of a crisis.
I believe that one of the defining characteristics of a good coach is not wisdom nor even accumulated life experience per se, but rather an empathy. That is what I now feel is the purpose behind my accumulated life experiences: to readily recognize, and truly feel, the suffering of others. I’m called to help people face it.
So what IS Health and Wellness Coaching after all??
The Maryland University of Integrative Health (where I am earning my MA in Health and Wellness Coaching) defines the field as such: skilled health and wellness coaches help clients clarify health and wellness goals through introspection, leverage their strengths, address challenges in behavior change, implement and sustain life-changing behaviors, and manage both setbacks and progress.
The National Board of Health and Wellness Coaching adds this: Health and Wellness Coaches partner with clients seeking to enhance their well-being through directed, lasting changes, aligned with their values. In the course of their work, coaches display unconditional positive regard for their clients and a belief in their capacity to change, honoring the fact that each person is an expert on their own life while ensuring that interactions are respectful and non-judgmental.
Coaching involves learning and growing through deep exploration and reflection. Wellness Coaches work with clients to explore values, strengths, and visions to help them make positive changes and connect more deeply with their inner selves. We aim to make the unconscious more conscious through mindfulness, stress reduction, and more.
My coaching helps clients connect mind, body, and spirit, using inner and outer resources to achieve better health and wellness, and ultimately, more happiness and fulfillment.
Do you know someone who might benefit from this work? Please pass along my name!