My approach to wellbeing and life coaching
What does it really mean to be 'well'? Well, it changes over time and according to the dominant prevailing culture. Here's an example. Think about body image. As a woman, having a plump, fuller figure was once embraced as a sign of strength, health and fertility. Later, a more slender physique came into fashion, representing a different set of values - control and discipline. Then, strong became the 'new skinny' and abs were the new standard. Wellness is culturally informed, and with this example I'm only just skimming the surface of gender and body-weight norms and stigmas.
I'm not a regular life coach. Coaching with me does not involve conforming to trends. While I see the value in things like journaling, meditation and mindfulness, I veer away from prescribing activities as a blanket approach. Instead, we work with narratives, and sometimes I may suggest creating documents as a form of therapy.
First, we pinpoint the dominant stories that have shaped us. Second, we determine which aspects of these stories we approve of, and which we reject - have these stories helped us or hindered us? Lastly, we work together in bringing preferred stories to life - stories that support the person we'd like to be. Of course, the process is not this linear or clear cut, but it's a general gist of the approach I take. Read more about my approach.
Burning out and finding narrative therapy
After years of juggling multiple jobs, internships, studies, freelance gigs and fitness goals (including competing in body building), I burnt out. I thought, "fair enough, there's only so much the human body and mind can handle". Nevertheless, I was still frustrated by my 'limits': the chronic fatigue-like symptoms that lingered for almost three years.
I began to think there was something wrong with me and turned to ideas like the law of attraction, cognitive behavioural therapy and positive psychology, which claim that we can change our lives by changing our minds. I applied these ideas but very soon began to blame myself for not having a mind that could pull me out of hardship.
Beginning to notice the crippling power of social expectations and dominant narratives (for example, those that paint 'success' in a specific light and leave many of us feeling like failures), I questioned everything I took for granted. It was during this time that I stumbled across narrative therapy.
I completed my Masters in Narrative Therapy and Community Work specialising in social expectations - hosting conversations with people that help them diminish the power that cultural, familial, gendered, marginalising narratives can have on us.
Masters of Narrative Therapy and Community Work (University of Melbourne)
Bachelor of Professional Communications (RMIT University)
Mental Health First Aid Officer (MHFA Australia)
Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (LivingWorks)