choice Magazine

Beyond the Page Podcast ~ Trauma-Informed Coaching: Necessary, Better, and Not About Trauma

August 29, 2023 Garry Schleifer
choice Magazine
Beyond the Page Podcast ~ Trauma-Informed Coaching: Necessary, Better, and Not About Trauma
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode of "Beyond the Page," the choice magazine podcast, host Garry Schliefer engages in an enlightening conversation with  Susana Rinderle who is the author of an article in our latest issue. The article title is “Trauma-Informed Coaching: Necessary, better, and NOT about trauma”

Ever wondered how trauma impacts an individual's life outcomes, physical health, and economic success? Discover the answer in our enlightening conversation with the brilliant Susana Rinderle, a transformational life and leadership coach and trauma-informed resilience practitioner, who has penned the insightful article "Trauma-Informed Coaching: Necessary, Better, and Not About Trauma". Susana enlightens us on the crux of trauma and the crucial role of the ACEs test, a tool that helps measure the severity of one's trauma.

As we navigate through this crucial conversation, we uncover how our life experiences, from global pandemics to personal battles, are becoming increasingly traumatizing, thereby underlining the need for trauma-informed coaching. Susana and I emphasize the role of trust, safety, and equality in the coach-client relationship. She generously shares six effective ways for coaches to be trauma-informed and articulates the profound impact even small practices can have. Tune in for a profound exploration of trauma-informed coaching, enriched by Susana's personal insights and professional wisdom. This episode is indeed a beacon guiding you towards understanding and implementing trauma-informed coaching.

Watch the full interview by clicking here: https://youtu.be/fiywV9vfnbQ

Find the full article here: https://bit.ly/BTP_SusanaRinderle

Learn more about Susana here.

Susana's gift to our listeners: 15% off her workshop series through September 15 using promo code choice15 (good for the first 10 people to sign up!)

Grab your free issue of choice magazine here - https://choice-online.com/

Garry Schleifer:

Welcome everyone. I'm Garry Schleifer and I am the host of today's podcast Beyond the Page, and I am the publisher of choice, the magazine of professional coaching. In each episode, we go beyond the page and dive deeper into some of the most recent and relevant topics impacting the world of professional coaching, exploring the content, interviewing the talented minds like we have right here behind the articles, and uncover the stories that make an impact. choice is more than a magazine. For over 20 years, we've built a community of like-minded people who create, use and share coaching tools, tips and techniques to add value to the business and, of course, to impact their clients. In today's episode, I'm speaking with Su sana Rinderle, who is the author of an article on our latest issue.

Susana Rinderle:

Dun dun.

Garry Schleifer:

Now, interestingly, her article is entitled and I've been waiting to publish this one for a while, so thank goodness we found it a place for it it's entitled Trauma-Informed Coaching Necessary Better and Not About Trauma, which I love. Susana is an MA, a PCC, a writer, a poet, a transformational life and leadership coach and trauma-informed resilience practitioner. One would expect no less. Her first career was in diversity, equity, inclusion and leadership development, where she spent nearly 30 years garnering results for employers and clients across the US and abroad in multiple sectors, including non-profit, corporate, healthcare, education and government. Susana is a professional certified coach with the International Coaching Federation, also known as a PCC. She's a mentor coach and a certified facilitator of the Resistance Toolkit, which she'll tell us more about. She held a university position in Guadalajara, Mexico, and was the co-founder and first manager of diversity, equity and inclusion for the University of New Mexico hospitals. For 20 years she was the President of no kidding Susana Rinderl e Consulting and is a former principal consultant for Cornfairy in the leadership development practice. Now do you say you're a former 10X speaker? You're a 10X speaker. Hello, those things go on forever.

Susana Rinderle:

That's a good point. Yeah, yeah it's still on the YouTube?

Garry Schleifer:

Yeah, your articles have appeared in multiple commercial and academic publications. And finally, you're at choice magazine. We did it. Yay, yay, Susana, thank you so much for being here today and for joining me in this conversation. I have to admit seriously, I know why you decided to write this article. I know that's question number one. You just have to read your bio and know why this is very important to you. When you read the article, it's personal. Is there anything else you want to add to the reason behind the article?

Susana Rinderle:

Oh, that's a great question, Garry, and thanks so much for inviting me to be in conversation. I'm really glad the article finally found a home as well. Why I mean I'm pretty transparent in the article and in my work that it is personal. I do identify as a trauma survivor those that are familiar with the ACEs score, the adverse childhood experiences. I have a high ACEs score. I'm a person living with mental illness and have benefited from many different mental health and other types of healing modalities for most of my life. And the article opens with one story of how there was a rupture with my coach because the coach was not trauma-informed and I was not either at the time.

Garry Schleifer:

So neither one of us understood what was happening, right? I thought that was very interesting.

Susana Rinderle:

Yeah, neither one of us understood what was happening. It was not handled effectively and not only was harm done, minor harm, that the relationship ended. So it is very personal and as I became certified in the resilience toolkit and became more trauma informed myself as a practitioner, so many things started firing in terms of where coaching and the trauma informed world do intersect, can intersect and should.

Garry Schleifer:

Yeah and okay, you have to backtrack. What was that first test? You said ACEs.

Susana Rinderle:

Explain that ACEs, Ace Adverse Childhood Experiences.

Garry Schleifer:

Is that a assessment or something?

Susana Rinderle:

It is. Well, it's a body of work based on some research done in the late 90s, actually in Southern California. I think it was a psychologist or a psychiatrist and he looked at. I don't remember what the catalyst was, but they looked at, they worked with an insurance company and they actually looked at folks with health insurance. So already that's a particular sub-segment of the population, right.

Garry Schleifer:

Right, yeah.

Susana Rinderle:

Jobs that pay well, that give benefits, et cetera. And they found a deeper connection between a set of adverse childhood experiences and various life outcomes, including chronic health conditions, than almost any other indicator. And that research has been continued to be built on and expanded and we now increasingly understand how central trauma is to one's life outcomes, one's physical health, one's economic success. Relational all these things are much more connected to a sets of adverse childhood experiences. And yes, one can Google that. One can take the assessment and find where they're at. There's only nine, so the max ACE score is nine.

Garry Schleifer:

Okay.

Susana Rinderle:

That's really interesting stuff.

Garry Schleifer:

Yeah, no kidding, glad I asked. That sounds really good. Makes the question overall, before we get into any further. What exactly is trauma?

Susana Rinderle:

That's a great question, Garry because I think I am super excited that the word trauma is increasingly normalized and destigmatized. I love that as a trauma survivor and as a trauma practitioner. However, I find that, much like the coaching profession, as the trauma word and like the coaching word has become more mainstream and normalized and commercialized, I think there's been a decrease in clarity and a decrease in power. So I'm glad the power of it. So I think that's. I love that you're asking that really important question because I think that's where a lot of folks get stuck. They have a misinterpretation of what trauma is. So there's sort of two main buckets. One is what's called trauma with a capital T trauma or acute trauma. So, that's one intense experience that we have. A lot of the early research was done on soldiers returning from combat from World War I and then World War II. So it can be combat, it can be assault, it can be living through a natural disaster. So that would be capital T trauma, acute trauma. But there's also lowercase t trauma, which is chronic stress over time. So my three favorite definitions none of which are mine are trauma, Trauma is too much, too fast.

Garry Schleifer:

Too much too fast okay.

Susana Rinderle:

Too much, too fast or too much. I feel like I'm forgetting. It's funny how you say things over and over and then you forget that they are too much, too fast or too much too soon. So that's your capital T, acute trauma, the too much for too long or the not enough for too long is the lowercase t, or chronic stress. And here's the thing, Garry. The body trauma lives in the autonomic nervous system, primarily outside of the brain and the spinal cord. And the body doesn't know the difference between the two. So the body doesn't know the difference between I was assaulted, or I lived through a tsunami and I grew up in a family that was unable to meet my basic emotional needs. Or I am navigating the world in a black, brown, queer, or female body, or I've been working in a toxic workplace for the last 15 years. It all registers as trauma in the body. The other two favorite definitions that I'd like to share with people is it's not what Dr Gabor Maté, who's one of the people I most respect and who is actually an MD and done some really interesting work in this area not just his writings but his research he says it's not what happens to us but what happens inside us as a result of what happens. And that's a really, and it's based on a ratio between the stressor, the stimulus, the stimuli, the stressor and the internal resources we have, many of which get into our nervous system, not through our own behavior or our own agency. So that's why a family or a community can go through kind of the same event and some can come out severely traumatized. One person just stressed and the other person kind of walks away like nothing happened. It's because of that balance of stressors and resources.

Garry Schleifer:

Oh, my goodness, you talk about most families, like my middle child, my sister, the youngest child, the baby, me, the oldest one, and it's that their life experiences, although in the same household, are vastly different. And what people remember in the same family, that some remember and some don't, but what they remember is as important to them, trauma or not is remarkable.

Susana Rinderle:

Yeah, because we make meaning. We are our species name should be homonarans. We make sense of our reality through story and families are complex, because I'm the oldest of three as well. And family the family that each sibling comes into is actually a different configuration. But even when it comes to like a car accident, where empirically every person was in the vehicle and this is what happened, same thing, people can walk away from that very differently because of the balance of stressors and resources in their nervous system. The last definition I'll share that tends to land with people and really spark things for me is from Dr. McDonald, who says that trauma is an overwhelming let me make sure I get this right because I like to be precise. Oh, an unbearable emotional experience that lacks a relational home.

Garry Schleifer:

Wow, okay, what's the example of that?

Susana Rinderle:

So that means something unbearable and emotional happened to us, but we did not have a safe place to go and recover and heal and be supported. Right, we're the most social species on the planet, gary. We co-regulate with each other and so when we don't have a place where we can do that and have that support and build back up our resources, that's one of the reasons that some people come out of things more traumatized than others.

Garry Schleifer:

Yeah, wow, yeah, well, thank you so much. And again, thank you for writing and submitting this article. Like I said, we couldn't fit it in when it originally came in, but I'm glad we fit it in here.

Susana Rinderle:

And that you're here.

Garry Schleifer:

So, okay, I was taught that I shouldn't be talking about trauma or mental health and coaching. How do you reconcile trauma-informed coaching with our professional scope of practice?

Susana Rinderle:

Yes, rolls her eyes and go. Yeah, this is a big one and it's really important. When I do my short talks, I actually bring up a slide with an elephant on it and I go okay, so let's talk about the elephant in the room here I can see and notice some of the nervous systems yes, some of the nervous systems are having a response. So let's go there and I think kind of there's three or four things that I like to say to that. First trauma is in the coaching, whether you notice it or talk about it or name it at all. One of the coaches I most respect in this field is my colleague and friend, Julia Von Smith in the UK, and she says working with trauma in clients and ourselves is the norm for coaching, not the exception. Wow, so you said in my you gave that very kind bio about me and so folks know that I have spent 30 plus years in the DEI and anti-racism space and I kind of draw parallels there that now we are finally recognizing that to name, acknowledge and explore once cultural, racial, class, gender identity, sexual orientation and neurodivergence is not only welcome but important. Trauma is the same, in my opinion. It's in the room, whether we name it or not. So we might as well go there and destigmatize and normalize. So that's the first thing is that trauma is in the session and in you as the coach.

Garry Schleifer:

You know whether you know not me which is a trauma response.

Susana Rinderle:

So it's there anyway, Number one. Number two is it's now a must have. So that's why I say in the article that it's necessary. You know, life is traumatizing. Well and birth is traumatizing.

Garry Schleifer:

You've said it quite clearly there isn't at this point there isn't anyone on the planet who hasn't worked, except for, maybe, newborns, but their birth, it that hasn't been traumatized Like, for example, the pandemic Wow that just took us all and there's still residual. I know people who still won't leave their homes because they're afraid.

Susana Rinderle:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Those are trauma responses and I want to be very clear to you and the listeners that when I say trauma response, I am not. There is no shame, there is no stigma. Those are the beautiful genius responses of our bodies to keep us safe. So we celebrate and we work with that, but we don't shame it. But, yes, those are traumas. There is no a family, community, organization, or is that trauma-free that is not . Some of my most traumatized clients, Garry, have been C-suite leaders and so you know to your point, you know not we, you know we have also created this thing that we call civilization. That is also deeply traumatizing. I mean, you know, not to mention the lowercase T trauma that most of us have from our childhoods and our upbringing in a family and community. And you know that it isn't equipped to meet our needs. But we are nervous, systems are being bombarded by stimuli. We have foods available in the industrialized Western world 24 hours a year-round, that our bodies aren't equipped to. You know, manage all the time we are. You know most of us live alone or live in a nuclear family. We're in cars, I mean, there's all these things that are traumatizing to the human nervous system, that we spent hundreds of thousands of years not dealing with, and so, you know, let's just normalize that it's there. So that's why it's necessary now is that, you know, global pandemics, economic instability, political violence, eco grief, climate change, I mean, hello, it's hot as heck right now everywhere at the time of this recording. So you know it's there in the room and that's must-have. And I would say the other two things that I would kind of cheekily say to this area is that you know, as an ICF mentor coach trauma-informed, being trauma-informed, maps very nicely onto the competencies, particularly the most important ones around yeah, around trust and safety.

Garry Schleifer:

Number four cultivates trust and safety. It was funny I was reading your rereading your article and reading the six points that coaches can use to be better trauma informed and it really brought that up for me to have trust and safety and the different competencies that kind of open up the door for us to work with our clients under this umbrella.

Susana Rinderle:

Yeah, and I kind of take a soapbox approach occasionally with my mentees that trust and safety is the most important competency because Trauma-informed the foundation of everything else that comes. Trauma-informed being maps Trauma-informed importantly and nicely under trust and safety as well as coaching presence, listens actively, and evokes awareness. And the last cheeky thing I'll say is that every time my talks at ICF chapters and my own workshops are submitted to ICF for CCEs, they're approved. So if this were not, you know, in alignment with the professional coaching field, my senses that that probably wouldn't be happening.

Garry Schleifer:

So when I hear things like.

Susana Rinderle:

When I hear things like I just heard this week from some students in my trauma-informed coaching class, two of the participants brought this up again and they said Susana, help us understand more about this part because I was told in my training program very clearly to like not ask about mental illnesses. Because, I was talking at that moment about how one of the things that I do trauma-informed a coach is to ask more detailed intake on a questionnaire. The question is always voluntary, it's not required, but that really brought things up for folks in terms of I was told to not ask and again my thing is it's there. Yeah, we're not mental health professionals, we're not diagnosing, we're not giving them treatment. But I got to tell you, just asking that question and making it optional has built tremendous trust and safety with my clients and give me immense information that I can either bring curiosity into the session, educate myself or, you know, keep keep it in mind in terms of my own training. So it's really invaluable, I think.

Garry Schleifer:

Oh my goodness, no kidding, yeah, I couldn't help but go look in it. I mean, you're looking, you know you're acknowledging and respecting the client's unique talents, insights. So there's one right there. Acknowledges and supports the client's expression of feelings, perceptions and concerns, beliefs, demonstrate openness and transparency is the way, display vulnerability, like just on both sides of the fence, you know, and there's there's. There's one more that came up for me which I found was really interesting, and I love for coaches to hear what you have to say about this, or maybe just to hear that we say you said something about your she's an experienced coach, of course she in your head. You said she's an experienced coach, of course she's right when she tried to get you to do something you couldn't. What I've been adding to my trust and safety segment of my work with my clients is reiterating we're equals, because there's a propensity for clients to think the coach is smarter than the client, and I keep bringing that in along with other things like I'm a white man of privilege. How does that fit into your world? What's the impact of that? How you know, let me know when. That you know. Let's be open to a conversation, in particular, when I'm working with women when I'm working with BIPOC, that sort of stuff I like and they pick me is you know, it's like you know. They bring their history, their history, and example of what you're saying happens to be about men. It happens to be about mental illness. We're not like you said. We're not diagnosing, we're not doing. I think that and this goes back to how differently people hear things they probably wasn't exactly what was said. It was probably very possibly right, because I remember in my schooling is white, is, and I've further developed it is yes, you can ask about it. In fact, you're supposed to ask. Are you seeking, you know, are you exploring other modalities like and you don't necessarily have to say therapy, but you can say it, right, but let the client tell you and then you know do they know you're doing coaching and what's the, you know what are their thoughts about that?

Susana Rinderle:

It is.

Garry Schleifer:

Yeah, and was coaching so even inviting the two, and I've done that for ever. Yeah.

Susana Rinderle:

Well, and that also maps onto the competency of establishing agreements, right. But I would say, you know, first of all, a person can be traumatized, be carrying trauma and not have a mental health diagnosis there to separate things, right?

Garry Schleifer:

So there's good point.

Susana Rinderle:

The other thing is that, yes to what you're saying and there is a deeper somatic quality somatic meaning body oriented to saying things that I think most of us would be on board with. Like we are equal. Right, we can say that, we can believe that, but how are we showing up with the client? There are a lot of very subtle ways that coaches coerce clients and that that harms equity and that harms trust and safety. But a lot of those practices are very subtle and they are not trauma informed. So, for example, when we ask, when we ask closed ended questions when an open ended question would have been more appropriate or more effective, what is our nervous system response? When the client says no or sets a boundary, or provide or does resistance, how do we inside, how does our nervous system, respond to that? We also asked a lot of coercive questions, again without realizing it, like did you get what you wanted out of today's session? Instead of, oh, client, you said you wanted to get this out of the session today. How did we do? Or what was your number one insight from today?

Garry Schleifer:

That's where I go with. So what are you leaving the call with today?

Susana Rinderle:

Right.

Garry Schleifer:

Did you get what you want? That's simple wording.

Susana Rinderle:

It's very simple but it's subtle and these are just a few examples of how we subtly and unconsciously coerce the client that undermines equity. So anyway, that's a lot of words to kind of say yes, and there's like more underneath these things that I think most of us are bought into from a values perspective and know we can and should be doing. But then how we're actually showing up in the moment as we're coaching presence comes in can actually be counter to those things we say we believe and should be doing.

Garry Schleifer:

Yeah, oh, my goodness.

Susana Rinderle:

Susana, this is amazing information right.

Garry Schleifer:

There's a lot there and there's a lot to do, and I beg the question what would you like our audience to do as a result of this article and this conversation?

Susana Rinderle:

That's a great question. While I outline in the article the six ways that coaches can be ta-da, there it is.

Garry Schleifer:

Page 48, and I've marked it with a CCE. All right.

Susana Rinderle:

Yeah, the six ways that clients can trauma-informed more . I actually wrote an additional article, not in choice, but about those six. That's all about those six, but those the number one. And when I teach my class, this is when I talk about what coaches can do differently. This is also number one. So number one on the list and choice and in my class and sort of what I hope is my consistent message is number one coaches, get on your own healing journey. So our own healing journey around our, around trauma. And I say journey because one does not need to be completely healed to be an effective coach. If that were true, I would not be coaching.

Garry Schleifer:

It's a journey.

Susana Rinderle:

So that integrity and that commitment to our own healing and to learning effective self-regulation practices. Now, regulation does not always mean calm. That's another word that's getting misconstrued out there right now. Self-regulation does not mean always calm. It means that our nervous system response matches the moment, that our bodies are fluid in terms of how we're responding. And there's more to it than that. But we can't, because trauma lives and expresses in the body and doesn't require our awareness or even an emotion. Learning modalities and approaches that are somatic, that are body oriented, are very important, and that's part of what I teach in my class, which is the second thing I would offer readers to do is that I have a three week class called trauma informed coaching what to know, notice and do to serve all clients better, so they can enroll in that. You can find that at susana. link/events. It's susanalink/ events.

Garry Schleifer:

No. com dot com.

Susana Rinderle:

Oh, that's a no. com, susanalink forward slash events and I'm offering 15% off for the listeners through September 15th if you enter code choice 15 at checkout, but that's only good for the first 10 folks, so run. Folks can also visit my trauma-informed, coaching USA, where they can read more of my articles, and learn a little bit more. I'm also a big believer in growing the pie, not fighting over crumbs, so I do have other programs and other partners that I recommend for folks, and I'm very discerning about those because there are some programs out there that miss really important pieces around the somatics and around the ecology of trauma, meaning the history and the institutions and the geography around the individual, not just the individual. So, anyway there are resources there and I'm happy to talk to folks one on one if they'd like to increase their learning or if they or their clients would like trauma-informed experience coaching. I'm also open to working with folks.

Garry Schleifer:

Oh, awesome, very generous, and again that website is my way.

Susana Rinderle:

Oh, the Trauma Informed Coaching website is trauma informed coaching usa. com

Garry Schleifer:

Got it and is that where they're also find your other writing about the six steps.

Susana Rinderle:

Yeah.

Garry Schleifer:

Okay, great.

Susana Rinderle:

As well as a link to the events page. So everything's right there.

Garry Schleifer:

Everything's right there, let's stop shop, yeah. Making it easy for people to avoid trauma in the process.

Susana Rinderle:

Exactly so you're trying to, so finding more ways to. You're exactly right.

Garry Schleifer:

Yes, yeah, well done, walk in the talk. Thank you, Susana. Thank you so much for joining us for this Beyond the Page episode. It's been an absolute delight. And thanks again for writing the article. Don't be a stranger if you feel something else. Remember we have the kaleidoscope column, which is about diversity, equity, and inclusion. So okay, mental note.

Susana Rinderle:

Thanks, Garry, appreciate your time.

Garry Schleifer:

And yours. That's it for this episode of Beyond the Page. For more episodes, subscribe via your favorite podcast app. I do, I listened to myself. Isn't that horrible? Wow, I learned this much listening. Yeah, Very brave While you're. If you're not a subscriber to choice magazine, you can get a free digital issue by going to choice-on line. com and clicking the sign up now button. I'm Garry Schliefer. Enjoy the journey of mastery.

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