Episode 80: Trauma-Sensitive Coaching with Lisa Kuzman

As coaches, I believe it’s our ethical obligation to be trauma-sensitive so that we can show up and serve our clients powerfully and safely. Lisa Kuzman joins me on this episode to talk about what it means to be trauma-sensitive, what it looks like to bring a trauma-sensitive approach to our work, and more.

80: Trauma-Sensitive Coaching with Lisa Kuzman

Most of us have been affected by trauma in some way, whether we ourselves are trauma survivors or through someone we're connected to. That's why I believe that as coaches, it's our ethical obligation to be trauma-sensitive so that we can show up and serve our clients powerfully and safely.

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Show Notes

Most of us have been affected by trauma in some way, whether we ourselves are trauma survivors or through someone we're connected to. That's why I believe that as coaches, it's our ethical obligation to be trauma-sensitive so that we can show up and serve our clients powerfully and safely.

If you're not familiar with the term trauma-sensitive or you're wondering what it looks like to be a trauma-sensitive coach, this episode is for you. I'm joined by Lisa Kuzman, the go-to expert for all things related to trauma-sensitive coaching.

Lisa Kuzman is an outdoor-loving, craft-beer sipping, leadership coach for people of influence who wants to make trauma-sensitive education just as exciting as a 6-figure launch. She is also a former clinical social worker with 15 years of mental health experience. As a trauma survivor herself, Lisa's mission is to share the power of her knowledge and understanding with as many people as humanly possible.

In the course of the episode, we talk about trauma and indirectly reference sexual assault and sexual abuse. This can be a triggering topic so I want to give you the opportunity to choose if, when, and where to listen to this interview.

Topics covered

  • Who is Lisa Kuzman?
  • What coaches need to understand about trauma-sensitive coaching
  • The three foundational pieces we should prioritize for our clients
  • Consent at every turn
  • The important distinction between trauma-informed therapists and trauma-sensitive coaches
  • How clients’ trauma histories are at play in our work
  • Signs that your client might benefit from trauma-informed therapy instead of coaching
  • Getting clear on how your history shows up in your work as a coach
  • Why Lisa is so passionate about trauma-sensitive coaching

Resources mentioned

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Well, hello, my friend. Welcome to the Coach with Clarity podcast. My name is Lee Chaix McDonough, and today's episode, woo, is a good one. I am so excited to share it with you. My guest today is Lisa Kuzman. She is the go-to expert for all things related to trauma sensitive coaching. Now, if you are not familiar with the term “trauma sensitive”, or if you're wondering, “Wait, what does it look like to incorporate trauma into coaching? I thought that was the auspices of therapy”. Well, then you definitely need to listen to my interview with Lisa. We cover all of the basics: What does it mean to be trauma sensitive? How does that differ from being trauma informed? And what do we as coaches need to know about trauma when we're working with clients? And what does it look like to bring a trauma sensitive approach to the work that we do? Lisa and I cover so much in this interview. And personally, I think this needs to be mandatory listening for every coach out there. Because the fact is, most of us have been affected by trauma in some form or fashion. Whether we ourselves are trauma survivors, or whether we live, work with, or love someone who has experienced trauma. It is a part of our lives. And as coaches, it is our obligation, our ethical obligation, to be trauma sensitive so that we can show up and serve our clients powerfully and safely. And safety is something that Lisa and I talked about at length in this episode. Now a quick heads up, because we are talking about trauma sensitive coaching, we are talking about trauma. And we do have some indirect references to sexual assault and sexual abuse. We do not share any specific examples of abuse or trauma. But because I know that this can be a triggering topic for many people, I just wanted to give you a heads up before you listen to today's episode so that you can choose if, when, and where to listen to it. And now it is my honor to introduce you to Lisa Kuzman.

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 Lee: Well, Hi Lisa, I am so excited to welcome you to the Coach with Clarity Podcast. Thank you for being here.

Lisa: Yay. I'm so excited. It's such an honor. And I literally can't wait to have this conversation with you. 

Lee: Well, the feeling is 100% mutual. You and I know each other very well. But I suspect some of the listeners, this might be their first introduction to you. So why don't we kick things off with you letting us know a little bit about who you are and the work you do for the world?

Lisa: Yes, well, I'll start with the “who I am” part of the equation. It's been really interesting to realize how much of the time we focus on what we do over who we are, right? So I am an outdoor enthusiast who loves to hike, and ski, and mountain bike, and be with my amazing golden retriever that shut out of the room. Hopefully she does not bark while we are doing this. I love craft beer, and patios, and chips and dips. Pretty much all things related to being outside, enjoying fresh air, moving, eating, and having fun. So that's the Lisa piece, and then credentials and history and all of that. I have a bachelor's degree in psychology, a master's in social work, I focused on geriatrics and end of life care. I worked for 10 years in the field of social work in nursing homes within nonprofit hospice and within the VA Medical Center. And within the VA, I was there for six years. It's really normal for people to move around in different positions based on opportunity and leveling up your career. So I worked in inpatient medicine, discharge planning, inpatient psychiatry, and blind rehab. And then I did case management for a program that supported veterans who needed assisted living out in the community. Yay. And I'm a coach, which is my big, huge, main passion.
Lee: I think that's, I mean, you and I have so much in common actually with our backgrounds. We're both master level social workers, we both have worked for the VA at different times in our career. And even more than that though, I get the sense that we have a lot of shared values. So beyond just shared experiences, we really see the world in very similar ways, which is why I think I was so attracted to you and to your work around trauma sensitive coaching. And that's what we're going to get into today. And you were really the first person I ever heard refer to this as “trauma sensitive” coaching. And so I'd love to start there and just get the lay of the land. What is trauma sensitive coaching? What does that word even mean?

Lisa: Yes, and, and this is, I'm going to tell you the way I interpret this versus what you might Google online. Trauma sensitive coaching, in my mind's eye, is the process of showing up as a coach with a deep desire to support people with their expansion, their growth, and their personal development, while always considering what might be at play, in regard to having a history of trauma, or the way that we get activated or triggered in our trauma responses. And that we're always really paying attention to and noticing how that is at play while we are also supporting people with their expansion, and personal development, or business growth. Because coaches do a billion things. Because we're amazing. And when you put these two things together, it allows for us to be able to support our clients in a way that is really going to move the needle and move it more quickly, without accidental harm. People have lots and lots of history of trauma and traumatic experiences. It doesn't always mean we end up with PTSD, or we're really deeply impacted, but little stuff and big stuff piles up and it influences our subconscious. It can influence the way that our brain actually functions. And there are many aspects of coaching that deal with mindset, and emotions, and relationships and all of those places are places where trauma can have an impact on a person. And so a coach needs to be aware of everything that's at play, and being willing to look at all of that and having safety be first over achieving goals, or hitting metrics, or making sure your client has a win.

Lee: Yes. Okay, I love that you just prioritize safety as paramount in the coaching relationship, maybe even over achievement. Because so often in the coaching industry, that's what we see. You know? Hit six figures, land more clients, it's all about getting and what you have to do to get something. And you've really changed the paradigm so that it's not immediately about those external achievements and accomplishments, but it's first about creating the relationship and having it grounded in safety. When we're working with people that have trauma histories, that is critically important. And so I love that you've highlighted that as a priority and trauma sensitive coaching.
Lisa: Yeah, I want to add one thing really quickly, that should always be first. Because we can't achieve anything, or accomplish our goals, or move the needle in support of our clients, if we're not prioritizing that first. Like it's literally a foundational block. And I talk with my clients about how you have to have safety, security, stability as a foundational block. Especially for those of us who know we have a trauma history and need to do some healing around that. You cannot build- I'm getting chills while I'm describing this. You cannot build your foundation and put anything else on top of it if those three key elements are not in place. Because it crumbles, and then you keep trying and then it crumbles underneath you. And it feels as if there's something wrong with you or you're broken in some kind of way, that's not true. It's just those foundational pieces: safety, security, stability, which comes often from healing and other things, or coaches prioritizing safety, it has to be there. Otherwise, we can’t build on top of it. And it's often overlooked. Yeah.
Lee: It is overlooked. Or it's addressed at an initial session, and then never again. Which that's not how it works either, is it?

Lisa: No, no, I preach safety at every-not safety, safety at every turn as well, but consent at every turn. Just because your client hires you, doesn't mean that they consent to every single thing and every single situation. Every single coaching session you still have a beautiful opportunity: May I offer a reflection? I have a question that may seem a little tender. Is it okay, if I go ahead and ask that right now? Right? Like, or it seems like this is at play. I would like to talk about that directly. Are you okay with that? People have to wait, people should have the option of consenting. Because there have been times where I'm like, “No, I am not in for that right now”. I want to be held accountable by my coaches. I want to do deep work. I want to create massive change in the world. And I definitely want to take responsibility for myself and sometimes I am not resourced enough, I'm not rested enough, I am too tender because who the heck knows whether or not I'm in the midst of dealing with the reverberations of a massive trigger in the last few days. Yeah, sometimes the answer is, “No, I love you, I hired you. I want to help. But now I can't go there today”, right? So we get to offer consent at every turn. And it takes a little bit of conscientiousness to do that. But boy, is it empowering. And, and oh, it's like it's sexy. It's sexy the way we can do that for people, and how you can see it land and feel for them. And then the way they respond and want to engage, right? It allows for openness, because you get to consent. So many places in our life, we don't have the option to consent.
Lee: And I think when we give our clients that continual opportunity to consent, that just reinforces the safety. They know that they can say no, and that's going to be okay. And this is still a safe environment. And that is such a profound connection to have with another human being. It's so validating. You know, I think of you a lot when it's like, “consent at every turn, consent at every turn”, because when I am working with coaches in my certification program, we talk about how you always center the clients agenda. Which means the client is piloting the ship. And so when we're asking permission, we are centering their needs. We're keeping their agenda at the center of our work. And it is a critical part of being a trauma sensitive coach, of always requesting that permission. That's a key part of that dynamic. I want to go back because I have a feeling some people may have heard “trauma sensitive” and maybe conflating it with “trauma informed”, which is a term we hear a ton certainly in the coaching industry, also in therapy, and really kind of just in the Zeitgeist. So I'm curious, what are the differences between the two? Like, what does it mean to be trauma sensitive versus trauma informed? 

Lisa: Yes, I will verbally articulate this, and people can reference it while we’re listening. I also have an awesome PDF that I created because this is a sticking point for me, and I love that you asked the question. Licensed mental health clinicians, there are many different types of them. And there are different ways in which mental health providers are legally able to provide mental and emotional support for people who are struggling in any kind of way, right? And I don't even want to bring up certain diagnoses and things because like, we all struggle in certain kinds of ways, because we're human. And sometimes having professional therapeutic support can be a benefit. Of course, it's not always the access point that all people have access to, or that works for them. But within the field of mental health, there are a set of therapists who go to additional lengths to have very specific training on how to safely move a person through and heal from their trauma. Those are trauma informed therapists. There are tools, and techniques, and licensing, and credentialing that allows a therapist to say that they're utilizing trauma-informed practices to assist people safely in their healing journey. The way in which a mental health professional works with the person through their trauma, awareness, and healing is really tender. And it can bring so much up to the surface, it's a very specific thing that people do. Not all mental health professionals have this licensing and credentialing and go through this whole rigmarole, we'll call it that. Really, it's a dedication to help make sure that people have what they need. So that's considered trauma informed. There are also organizations, there are mental health organizations, or certain educational places that support people with different types of learning ability differences, or, again, you know, kind of fall in the spectrum of the different types of diagnoses that people traditionally use mental health for, that can be identified as trauma informed. So there are a couple of places in education, but that's because the teachers are using modalities connected to this to help people who may have a history of trauma with their learning. But the main way trauma informed is used is in the mental health field, because of the way in which people have gone through this rigmarole to be able to safely provide training. So if you are not a therapist who has done this, and is currently treating people in this way, through the use of every license and your credentials, you're not trauma informed. You can only be trauma aware or trauma sensitive. So coaches can really only hold trauma sensitive or trauma aware titles, because we're literally like not licensed and credentialed individuals. Even though I have a Master's and an independent license as a master's level social work, I cannot claim to be trauma informed. For two reasons. One, I'm not doing therapy. Two, I never went through those extra credentials as a therapist, like in my world. So even I can only be considered trauma sensitive or trauma aware. The reason why this differentiation feels important to me, as a person who is trying to pave the way for a deeper understanding around trauma awareness and trauma sensitive practice in the coaching industry, is that as coaches, many people come to us needing support. And it is really hard to know what to even Google when you're a person who's like, ‘I need support with something, what do I need?”. Coaches are often like the beginning place that people can access or get referred to other things. So when we mislabel ourselves for those people who are out there googling, and searching, and really trying to make sure that they're getting the right person who has the right credentials to give us what we need, so that we can maintain safety as we do healing. That is why it is important. I also really want to respect therapists, and their training, and like what they have done to get to this point. And then the other main thing is that therapy is not coaching. We are different industries. We're not doing the same thing, we shouldn't be pretending to either. And I think it's a really slippery slope to start using language from another discipline that is actually not an accurate reflection of what we're capable or ethically able to do in our work. Very long answer.
Lee: No, but a very important answer. And I really appreciate that when we think about trauma sensitivity versus trauma informed, it is another way to differentiate coaching and therapy. And to honor both professions, but also be really clear about what belongs in one area and what belongs in the other. Which actually leads me to what I think is a tremendously important question. One of the questions I get most often from people is what's the difference between the two? What's the real difference between therapy and coaching? But I think in this case, it's even more important to ask the question, how do we know if someone is appropriate for, or ready for, a trauma sensitive coaching approach, versus a trauma informed therapeutic approach? Like if you've got someone who's coming to you, what do you look for? What do you assess to determine whether they're ready for coaching and specifically a trauma sensitive perspective?

Lisa: Well, I'll start by answering your question saying that all people deserve a trauma sensitive coaching approach, right? But of course, that's not necessarily happening. But that's not necessarily the point, because we're working on that, right? As a part of my work, my job. Um, so if you are a person, who's a coach, and you're trauma aware, or intending to be trauma sensitive, and you are noticing- because here's the thing that is also really interesting about the way that people's trauma histories are at play in our work. A lot of people, most people aren't aware of the way in which their past experiences are influencing and showing up in the way in which they may have hired you to work with them. I don't care what you're doing, or how you're doing it as a coach, this is going to be at play and your client may not know, which means you may not know, right? So, and this is another good thing to think about in trauma sensitive coaching, is that just having the awareness that you may not know, and that they may not realize it's at play. It's important. But you asked me, “How do we know the difference?”. So for me specifically, as I'm working with someone, if they are not progressing through our work in a way that is typical for how I work with people, if they are not showing up on time or missing appointments, if they're consistently like, “yeah, yeah, I want to do that homework”, but not able to, if they seem to like check out in a session, and then like, there's no amount of any kind of connection or conversation that can, what feels like, bring them back into their body, and really what I'm describing is dissociation but, but that happens very differently for different people. If a person is continuing to ruminate around the same thing, and you have literally used like, every tool in your toolbox, you have tried mindset work, you have tried mindfulness based practices, you've tried really focusing on said issue directly, indirectly, you've assigned homework like, and everybody has different tools in the way that they do it. But if those things aren't actually working, that is, and they are like hitting a brick wall, they likely have something that's unprocessed, that is a block for them, that they may need therapy to work through or resolve. And that then you'll be able to make continued progress, or progress to a certain point, but then nothing like nothing, right? And it's really interesting, because sometimes this happens, and coaches can have the feeling like either “Oh, I suck. Clearly, I'm bad at coaching. So that's the reason why this is happening”. Or we feel like somehow our clients aren't all in. That is both likely not true. Likely your person just needs something other than coaching, and it could very well need to be therapy. I actually have had a couple instances where clients where we like made progress and got to a certain point, and I had done just what I described to all this kind of way. Nothing was working. This person, at least the one I'm thinking of, as I'm talking right now, had articulated to me that she had a significant history of trauma. And I finally just said, “I want to put our sessions on pause. I really believe that this can be helpful but there's something that I am not, I have not been able to assist with up until now. I really believe that therapy could be helpful”. And I helped her understand how therapy had been helpful for me as a trauma survivor myself, since that topic was at play and as a part of what was going on. And I referred her to therapy. She ended up needing to be in therapy for so long, I think I put our sessions on hold for like a year. She just wasn't in a place to continue. And so that's another thing that's really interesting about trauma sensitive practices, we have to get out of our own way. And it can't be about money. Like we have to prioritize our client's needs over everything else.

Lee: And that goes right back to the heart of safety, right? And then our clients know that we are not going to prioritize our needs over theirs. That theirs remains paramount, even if it means pressing pause on our work for a year, so that they can get the support they need, so they can return to coaching. And then we focus on the achievements and the accomplishments and all of that work. So it really comes back to that foundation.
Lisa: Yeah, I have one other thing that just as you were talking came to my mind. The other cue is that if a client has a really big response, in intensity, to something that seems out of context to what you're doing, where you're like, “Wait, what? Hold on.” Like these moments are moments where I like, look to the left, and I look to the right, and I'm like, “What is like, what's happening right now? Like, how the hell did this start going down”, right? In my head this is what I think. So when people have those intense reactions, they get really angry with you, or they're projecting in some kind of way, or they shut down, or they don't want to do that anymore but it doesn't make sense to you, they might be getting activated or even triggered. And if that happens really regularly, and where the barrier is that they're having these really big reactions to what you're doing, then that is the inhibiting factor to being able to move forward. It might be that they are just having a lot of trauma triggers, or trauma responses that they might need some additional therapy and healing work around, so that it doesn't end up continuing to be a barrier to their ability to like, show up and move forward in a way where coaching is effective. That's another good one.

Lee: I love that. You know, and as you were speaking about this, what came up for me is that a trauma sensitive approach to coaching is one that is compassionate, and is empathetic, but is also in a way invested in non-attachment. Because when these things happen, it doesn't reflect on my talents or abilities as a coach, nor does it reflect on the worthiness or readiness of the client. It's simply “Oh, there's something else at play”. There's this kind of fog of trauma that can descend that really prevents a person from interacting in a way that would be ideal in a coaching relationship. And when we have that trauma sensitive lens, we can see that for what it is. And we don't make it about us. And we don't make it about them personally, it simply is. And then we can detach that ego and we can help them access the resources they need. So that that fog can lift, and then we can get back to the work at hand.
Lisa: And then here's the flip, right? The flip side of this is, if you really truly want to be a trauma sensitive coach, you must know and understand the way your past experiences are at play for you, in any given moment, as you're showing up with clients or doing anything in your work or really living your life in any kind of way, right? Because we know that how we do anything is how we do everything. I always want to quote the right person for that I never remember exactly where I heard that. So when we are aware of our own stuff, and we have been able to acknowledge it, and work with it, and move with it, and notify, notice, and be able to identify our own needs. Like for me, I'm a trauma survivor, I have complex trauma. And there are many things that show up for me that are related to my trauma responses in my day to day activities, in life, in business, and work with clients. But I need to go and tend to the Lisa stuff, right? So if you're not realizing the way your stuff is at play, how it's coming up for you, the conscious and subconscious things that are in the space. Then it's also really hard to actually be a trauma sensitive person, because it's not just about creating safety for your client. It's also about creating safety for yourself. And people can feel when we're not safe within ourselves, they can feel it. Especially other people who have trauma because we have like spidey senses, right? So if you're not safe within yourself, that is also something that could have an impact on how safe your client feels with you. There's like, all unsaid out there in the ether that is at play, but you may not realize.
Lee: That's such a fantastic point. And it correlates with one of the pillars of the Coach with Clarity Model, which is intentional use of self. That when we are showing up with our clients, we recognize that in many cases, we are our own best tool. But we have to know how to use that tool. That takes practice, it takes refinement, and we all have blind spots, every single one of us have blind spots. So it's not like there's something wrong with you, if you're not yet aware. But once that awareness has been presented to you, then I feel we have an ethical and even moral obligation to address that. And so that ties in so beautifully with what you were talking about, that we must be aware of our own histories, traumatic or otherwise, and how they can show up and influence that relationship. That is our ethical obligation as coaches.
Lisa: Yeah. And then there's intergenerational things at play. There's many things at play, right? And so when we're talking awareness, there may be, you know, like, the more and more we learn about trauma, and the way that trauma works, and how it impacts people, and different kinds of people with different kinds of lived experience. There's many, many things right? Oh, boy, I could go down the rabbit hole on that. But yes.
Lee: Yeah, this would turn into like, a two and a half hour Joe Rogan style podcast, we're not going to do that talk about trauma insensitive, whoo, boy. But what's clear to me, though, Lisa, is just how passionate you are about this. I mean, this is clearly like you are made for this kind of work. And I'm curious, what initially inspired you to move into trauma sensitive coaching and really to make that the focus of your practice?
Lisa: Yes. So here's this true story. I transitioned out of full time, social work practice with the VA Medical Center, into full time coaching in 2016. Right in the midst, right before the election, the 2016 presidential election. Before I had transitioned into full time coaching, in my work working on inpatient psychiatry, at the VA, with veterans who are you know, in acute places with their PTSD and working with them as the team social worker in the model in the hospital setting on a locked inpatient psych unit, as you have a whole team of people that addresses your needs as you go through, I realized I was like, “Oh, my God, I think I think I have PTSD, the things that these guys are describing, like, that happens to me, those things happen to me. I have intrusive thoughts”. Anyway, all sorts of different things, right? We don't need to get into all the ways that those things play out. Anyway, so here I am. 2016. I went into my business full time, right after I got married in August. August, November, right? And then the movement kicked off. And I was so triggered, at like many people with a history of sexual assault and sexual abuse experience realizing like, “Oh my God, not only am I not alone, but the way that people were putting things out there with their experiences, like oh, like I had forgotten many instances that I had written off as, like no big deal”. Because forgetting is really helpful with coping, right? So um, thankfully, I have a really- my best friend is a therapist, and I was really struggling. And when I say struggling, I mean, I would lay on the couch and cry for hours and hours a day. Now, there are many aspects of what was challenging at this time for me, I had moved, I had gotten married, I switched careers, my husband's switched intensity in his work. It was like it was a lot, right? So then the “Me too” movement happens. And so what had happened was, I was a really stable, balanced resource person. Everything changed on many layers of my life, and then the Me too movement kicked off. This heightened intrusive thoughts, heightened memories, many new fears and irrational thinking, right? And I put in air quotes “irrational” because it wasn't irrational. It's very rational for me. It just really, I felt like a crazy person. I felt crazy. So my BFF, who's a therapist, she's talking to me and she's hearing me say all this, and she says, “I think it might be a good idea if you consider going back to therapy”. And very few people can say these kinds of things to me where I'm like, “Oh, yeah, that's a good idea. I'll go to therapy.”, she can. So I did. And I found a clinic. I was living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota at the time, it's called the Compass Center. They offer free therapy for survivors and their families of domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual abuse. And they do EMDR. And I thought, “Oh, my God, I've gotta go there”. So I went, I did a whole round. I thought everything was fine, right? My business continues to expand. All of a sudden, I'm completely shutting down and panicking and freaking out over raising my rates. I spent multiple sessions with my therapists sobbing uncontrollably, over the concept of raising my rates to a place where I would literally just be scraping by. Like, I was not even at the time charging enough, I was upside down in my business, right? It was there, I not only was not paying myself, but I couldn't pay my bills. It was crazy. But I did not want to abandon people, I did not want to not be accessible. And some of those things are trauma responses, right? So I go through a whole other round of EMDR. I get on the other side of it. And I realize that the way in which my colleagues and my peers, the other entrepreneurs and coaches in industry, were going about having six, seven figure launches and coming out the gate making, you know, whatever. I mean, there's so many ways we compare ourselves. But true story, my trajectory, especially with earning and being able to establish and build my business, was not the same as my peers. I had internalized that I sucked at business, there was something wrong with me, I didn't know how to do it. I shouldn't even be coaching, right? Many stories I told myself were not true. After doing these two rounds of EMDR, I realized that I actually have PTSD and I have such complex trauma. And with the unique way in which I'm an entrepreneur and running a business, there's a high risk threshold endeavor. My fear of connecting to things because of the way my trauma brain was working, that was causing me overwhelming anxiety and panic. That was really important for me to pay attention to and to honor. And then I started shifting everything with how I was showing up with running my business, in the like tending to the Lisa pieces, because then all of a sudden, I could see the way that I was being triggered, what it meant to be triggered, and how to move through that. I had been able to break free from some of the places that I was bumping up against brick walls because of the therapy. And then I realized how much of some of the support I had tried to get in coaching had been ineffective because people weren't recognizing, and I also didn't recognize it myself, that I had trauma. I needed a unique and different approach. There was nothing wrong with me, I just had to work with this thing that I'm still really irritated that I even have at play for me, right? Like I don't want to be a trauma survivor. I don't want to have to deal with my triggers. It's annoying, right? It's much easier to just be like, “Oh, I forget that”, right? But it is at play for me. But it doesn't have to be a bad thing. So as soon as I shifted this whole thing, I started also noticing the way in which my clients could use a different approach from me. And then the impact and the like, things moved in an entirely different way. And I was like, “Whoa, this is super cool”. Um, then I went to a yoga retreat to get credentials, and it was focused on helping mental health professionals be trauma sensitive, right? Because there's two layers, you can have trauma sensitive mental health professionals and trauma informed mental health professionals. So as someone who wanted to keep my license, I went to go get these CEUs. It was a trauma sensitive yoga retreat, silent, lots of meditation, I didn't know I signed up for a silent yoga meditation retreat. But that was good for me. And yet, so much of the activities that we did were experiential around what it means to be trauma sensitive, really creating safety. And I immediately just applied everything through the lens of coaching, right, because my full time work is in coaching even though I was there for my CEUs. And I'm looking around the room, and I'm seeing these amazing therapists who want to be trauma sensitive. And recognizing that even trauma sensitivity and mental health isn't always there. Much less the trauma informed piece. And I'm sitting there, I'm like, “Oh, my God, this, we have to talk about this in coaching, we have to start talking about this”. Um, and then it took me another year and a half to actually get the guts up to, to like, embrace it and do it. But if that was the moment where I was like, I have to be a part of providing this information. And the intersection of my background because of my trauma, and because of my work in this field, I'm like, because at first I was like, “Why me? Like why not me? Right?”. There's not much more experience or credentials I could get to make me more, I don't know, better.
Lee: What is more perfectly aligned for this work? And I think what's extraordinary too, is that you are so well suited for this, from a formal training piece, from a personal lived experience piece. And at the same time, you also recognize that those two things independent of each other were not enough. It's not enough to simply be a trauma survivor, and now provide trauma coaching. It's not enough to be a trained mental health professional, and provide trauma coaching. There's, there's overlap there. But then there's continued development, and training, and nurturing, and work that needs to be done so that we can really fully show up for our clients and use a trauma sensitive coaching approach.

Lisa: Right? Yes, yes. And it's forever ongoing, right? I have a nine month grief loss and trauma sensitive coach certification program. I live and breathe time all the time, just for my own benefit, for the work that I do with my clients. And the main reason I'm so passionate about this is- oh, and it makes me emotional every time I say it, there's so many of us who have a history of trauma. And we don't have to bump up against these blocks, we just need enough people to be aware, to work with us, to work around it, to work with it, to allow it to be at play and be okay. Because then on the other side of that- our capacity for joy, our capacity for being able to do work that matters, solve problems, create solutions in this world. It's right there, it's possible for all of us. But so many of us have these complex things that people aren't attending or paying attention to, or we're not even aware enough. And I really believe that there's so much untapped resource and potential to create solutions and change and for people to just have, you know, better access to quote unquote, “living their best life”, if we pay attention to that.
Lee: Absolutely. And the sad truth is that so many of us have been affected by or impacted by trauma, and it can feel really lonely. It can feel like we're the only ones out there when in fact, there are so many of us out there. And by taking a trauma sensitive approach, we remove the shame, the stigma, the silence behind it. And we also make it not about us, this is a thing that happened to us. And yes, we are dealing with the aftermath of it, but it doesn't have to define us. And we can move through it, maybe move past it, but we can come out on the other side and then allow it to inform our work. But we have to be willing to do that work too and I think you're such a model of that.

Lisa: One, it's ongoing. That was the piece that I started to do and I got all passionate and excited and lost my train of thought, that even for me with all the education, the experience, the credentials, I mean, I've also been in therapy off and on. I'm 39 and for 33 years, I mean, I think I was four when I first started going to therapy, I am deeply in this, right? And I still learn all the time about myself. I learned all the time about better ways to articulate and describe connections and things that I see in the industry, and one of the things I- even creating the program is kind of challenging for me. Because I was like, “Oh my goodness, there's so much here”. And when you start googling things like how stuff shows up, or is potentially problematic in our industry, it's not written yet. It's not there yet, right? So I had to create things based on my lived experience and my education and training, right? And of course, I also have fear, like somehow I'm gonna get it wrong. But anyway, we're developing a body of work, but regardless of how much you know or don't know, it takes a long time, to an ongoing, paying attention. It's not a one stop shop, you don’t slap a label on your title and then you're good. Please don't.
Lee: Yeah, please don't. This is a process of evolution of continued  development. And I can't think of anyone better to do that work with than you. And I am so grateful that you agreed to come on the Coach with Clarity Podcast and share your wisdom and experience with us. Thank you. How can people connect with you after the show? Because I'm sure they're going to want to.
Lisa: Yeah, I've tried to make finding me on the internet really easy. So my website is my name LisaKuzman.com,  L I S A K U Z M A N .com. And I'm on Facebook, with my name, my business pages, Lisa Kuzman Leadership Expert, because I believe that trauma sensitivity practice is a leadership act. And on Instagram, I am- this is the only place where I'm not Lisa Kuzman, it's @CoachKuz. So you can find me there. And I really welcome people to reach out. Oftentimes people have questions and they don't want to do it publicly. And I really enjoy one on one connections where I'm not going to try to sell you into my things, but we can actually connect and I can answer your question.
Lee: So appreciate that about you. And also head over to Lisa's website, because that is where you will find her free PDF guide about trauma sensitivity versus trauma informed and what it means to be a trauma sensitive coach. Everything we've talked about today is just the beginning. There's so much more to it. And so, definitely touch base with Lisa to learn more. Lisa, thank you again for coming on the show. I am forever grateful.
Lisa: Thank you. It's been such a joy and I'm so excited for people to tune in. This will be fun. Me too.

Wasn't that just an extraordinary interview? I so enjoyed connecting with Lisa and learning from her and with her. I hope you did too. And I hope if you have questions about what it means to be a trauma sensitive coach, and bring a trauma sensitive approach to your work, please go check out Lisa's website, and definitely download her guide about what trauma sensitive coaching is, and how it differs from trauma informed therapeutic work. My experience working with Lisa has been revolutionary, and a lot of the concepts and ideas that we've explored I have been able to pull into my own work, certainly with my private coaching clients, but also in the Coach with Clarity Membership. And certainly in the Certified Clarity Coach Training Program. I feel confident in saying that my work is trauma sensitive, and that I am continuing to evolve as a trauma sensitive practitioner. So I'm very grateful to Lisa, personally and professionally, and so glad she was willing to come on the Coach with Clarity Podcast to share all of her wisdom with you. If you are listening to today's episode when it drops, it is the end of September, which means the doors to the Coach with Clarity Membership are about to close for the remainder of 2021. We are undergoing a bit of a renovation over in the membership, we will be revising some of our beloved templates and guides. And we will be restructuring a bit of the back end to make it much easier for our members to access the materials they most want. I'm so excited actually with how we'll be sprucing up the membership. And so we are devoting the entire fourth quarter of 2021 to improving the membership experience. That's why we are closing the doors to the membership on September 30th. So if you've been thinking about becoming a Coach with Clarity Member, now is the best time to do so, because you will have access to over two years worth of content, and trainings, and Q&A sessions, and all of that good stuff. And you will have first access to all of the newly revised material as well. When we reopen enrollment in 2022, the rates will be increasing, so when you join now you lock in the current rate and you will never pay more as long as you remain an active member. So head on over to CoachwithClarity.com/membership to learn more and to join before September 30th. I can't wait to welcome you as a Coach with Clarity Member. All right, my friend. That's it for this week's episode of the Coach with Clarity Podcast, but never fear I will be right back in your feed next week with a brand new episode. So until then, my name is Lee Chaix McDonough, reminding you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity.


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