I am a diversity-friendly and diversity-informed narrative therapist and life coach
In my practice I welcome people with diverse
mental health experiences
appearances, bodies and experiences of "health"
employment choices (i.e. sex work, unemployed)
relationship models (poly-friendly)
values and belief systems
family structures (i.e. nesting partners, triads)
sexual practices (kink-friendly)
How do I understand diversity?
Diversity of perspective and experience is essential to our collective wellbeing - it is the natural order of being. No two people think exactly alike nor share the same experiences. We cannot tell someone's hardships just by looking at them, nor will we ever be able to fully understand someone, even if we do our best to practice listening and empathy.
What is diversity-friendly coaching and therapy?
Everyone will have their own definition of "diversity friendly", which is the basis of diversity in the first place - we all have different experiences and perspectives on things. To me, it can be summarised by six key ideas. A diversity-friendly coach and therapist:
Does not believe that the person is the problem. The problem is the problem. This is a narrative therapy concept. Clients are not judged, shamed or pathologised, nor is their self-blame supported. In my practice, problems are spoken about as being located outside of a person, such as in systems of power, dominant discourses, prevailing politics and so on (read my blog about how problems are socially constructed)
Integrates diversity awareness and respect into all parts of the service (see the section on this page of how I inform my awareness of diversity for some of the ways I do this).
Actively engages in their own personal work in an ongoing basis to process their unconscious biases. They educate themselves about issues faced by people who identify as being outside the mainstream. They keep informed about cultural attitudes to diversity and how these impact the wellbeing of particular communities.
Celebrates and honours diversity. They do not expect or insist that people explain themselves or their experiences unless it is purposeful for the goals of therapy and coaching.
Does not pretend to be an expert in someone's life. They do not underestimate or brush over the dangers and discrimination people face, especially when they cannot relate to the issues themselves. A coach or therapist's guilt or ignorance is not the responsibility of the client. They do not assume anything. Also, being a "life coach" does not mean that the person has mastered life. Problems present throughout all stages in life. We cannot necessarily eliminate problems, but we can certainly change our relationship with them.
Is active in breaking down assumptions. We cannot presume that every coach or therapist is diversity friendly, and therefore it's important that they overtly and transparently state their diversity stance.
How do I inform my awareness of diversity?
There are a number of things I do to address my own unconscious biases. I'm always looking for new ways to do so. I currently:
Offer sliding-scale payment options to my clients when I can as an acknowledgment that everyone is working with different financial circumstances. This supports two beliefs of mine. The privilege of socio-economic status is often unjustly hugely overlooked. And therapy and coaching should be an accessible resource and right for all people.
Make sure that the books, research and articles I read are written by a variety of authors of differing lived experiences so that I can be exposed to multiple perspectives.
Do my best to earn and spend my money ("casting my votes in dollars") in ways that support local and ethical businesses; contribute to positive social change; and advocate sustainable practice.
Audit my influences. I make sure that I never take for granted the representations and ideas I see on TV, social media, the news and so on. I acknowledge the effects these have on me and my views and actively seek to remove any unhelpful bombardment of images that particularly impact my own mental health.
Question the kinds of people and professionals I turn to for 'expertise' and consider the spectrum of alternatives available when addressing my own problems.
See my own therapist - and one who has lived a very different life to my own surrounding their experiences gender, sexuality and relationships, therefore regularly challenging the way I think about life.
Seek out new opportunities to learn about topics in ways that do not place the emotional labour unnecessarily on other people.
What might be important for you to know about me as a person rather than a coach?
It may be helpful for you to know a couple of things about me that inform the 'self' I bring to the therapy room. I'm a young, white Australian cis-gendered woman. You might like to know that I am a part of the LGBTQI+ community. I was born with a deformity, which my mother has too. It has affected things like my ability to play sports and walk long distances (I also can't wear high heels!). It's certainly not a disability but it has given me huge perspective and appreciation for the human body. I've lived through turbulent chapters in my own mental health, which mainly coincided with difficult experiences working in corporate. I've also experienced obscure mild chronic illnesses that have affected my daily life pretty consistently for half a decade.