I hope you’re well!
The 2nd waves are easing off in most places and I can feel both, a sense of collective hope as some countries have made great progress with their vaccine rollouts, and also a real lockdown fatigue as we’re now one whole year into this pandemic and perhaps somewhat affected by the light at the end of the tunnel.
Now I won’t say much by means of introduction as I’ve already spent a lot more time than I had anticipated this morning writing these nuggets (instead of helping my wife to clean the house!). So without much further ado, as always, here are a few Nuggets of what’s been going on for me this month, bits and pieces that I’ve come across or thoughts that have been on my mind, as well as a few fruits of that energy. If any of it resonates, make it swing! I’d love to hear from you 🙂
What helped me overcome a difficult time
It was devastating. I felt incredibly guilty. 2 years of care, love and discipline – destroyed in an instant. Given the state of the world right now it feels odd to even write this and I wouldn’t even want to begin to compare what happened to me to what’s happening to others, but that’s how it felt in that moment. A deep pain, a sense of failure, a profound sadness. One of my beloved succulents, nursed from when it was very little and which had just developed many little new arms, had fallen while moving a piece of furniture.
The feeling lasted for a minute or so. I could feel I wanted to just distract myself and make it go away. I chose not to fight it and feel it instead. And that’s where one of the words I had studied and read so much about took on it’s literal meaning and offered me comfort: Post-traumatic growth!
Now, imagine losing 4 of your 5 arms. Yikes! Clearly quite the trauma. But then I remembered that this is nature, and that nature is amazing. Arguably it helps tremendously being a succulent as compared to a human being, so again, I wouldn’t want to compare this to trauma in humans necessarily, but we do know from 3 years of research into PTG that many people do come out of adverse events stronger than they were before the crisis.
And that’s where it hit me: Literally, if I manage this crisis well, it will lead to post-traumatic growth! For the less cactus-affine among you (I guess you can tell I married into a Mexican family 🙂 ), let me explain: You can cut off a succulent’s arm and it will grow new roots, eventually (under the right conditions) leading to the growth of an independent plant, meaning that 4 lost arms have the potential to become 4 new plants. The key phrase here is “under the right conditions”, but fortunately we know exactly what these are when it comes to succulents, and we’ve pretty much figured this out for people too. Now it doesn’t mean that all fallen arms develop roots and grow into new plants, but I believe we should try our best to make this more likely. I do have high hopes for my little plant. And while it’s arguably looks pretty roughed up right now, soon it’ll have at least a few siblings and I plan to re-unite the family when the time is right. It’s nature after all and life usually finds a way.
What’s finally official
We’ve made it! After almost a year in the making, on the 12th February 2021 the MIND Foundation (a Berlin-based “non-profit science and education organization that promotes psychedelic research and therapy and whose work builds on the neurobiological and psychological potential of psychedelics to improve mental health and well-being”) finally gave the go-ahead and announced our Professional Section Coaching & Psychedelics. Based on the mind-blowing renaissance of research into substances like LSD, psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) and other psychoactive compounds (find out more in the “Why Psychedelics?” section of my website) and a particularly seminal meta-analysis by the founders of the MIND Foundation, it was obvious to me that there is tremendous potential for psychedelics to offer value to people well beyond healing and treatment of disease or disorder. The research, aligned with my own and other people’s experiences, clearly points to experiences of growth, insights, learning, perspective, meaning, wellbeing, and many other aspects that may benefit “normal” people, people who are relatively healthy, functioning and resourceful.
In 2018, together with my colleague Libby Davy, we’ve organised the world’s first symposium on the topic and subsequently started a think tank on Facebook, now a group with nearly 300 members. More and more coaching colleagues recognized the potential and in early 2020 Rosie Peacock and I hosted the 2nd symposium on the topic, followed by regular Drop-in Sessions via Zoom open to anybody with an interest (which we still run monthly on the 3rd Wednesday, hit me up if you’d like to join). A visit to Berlin and meeting Andrea and Henrik Jungaberle along with an invitation to found an Interest Group under the MIND umbrella lead to the idea of ultimately growing into a Professional Section, which would open up possibilities for research grants, reaching a wider audience, and offering credibility and impact through MIND’s excellent reputation. 6 months of meetings with a core group of coaches later and we’re finally officially launched.
Organising as a Professional Section with MIND’s support allows us to tackle a number of important projects such as the formulation of a professional framework/definition for coaching in the context of preparation and integration for psychedelic journeys, an ethical framework for our work, organising relevant events for coaches and those interested in the service, as well as a white paper laying out the academic foundation for future research.
I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved and I believe it’s an incredibly important step given how many “healthy, normal” people are already seeking support from coaches (who may or may not have had relatively little training and limited awareness of ethical and other important components of this kind of work). Bottom line, and the reason to go public with this, is that this work is already happening, and I believe it’s much better to talk about it with our fellow colleagues rather than have coaches do this work under the radar/underground, which always creates more risk for clients.
And in case you’re wondering, there aren’t any legal issues as long as clients seek their experiences in legal settings, and supported by professionals. I’d never encourage anybody to use psychedelics. They are not for everybody and many people shouldn’t take them in my opinion. Plus, coaches are (or should be) very careful to work within their professional boundaries (which we are trying to establish/strengthen as part of our work in this Section). The way I see it, integration work is about helping someone to make sense of a significant experience and to integrate the learning and insights into their life in practical terms. It’s comparable to a powerful workshop or personal development event a la Tony Robbins. What we often witness is that participants are highly energized and motivated by the event, but a few weeks down the line they’ve fallen back into old habits. That’s where the integration coach comes in and supports the client in making sense of what happened, process their insights, weave it into their existing worldview, make a plan as to implement what they’ve learned into the life going forward and, importantly, maintain the positive changes they made.
If you’d like to read a little more, I’ve written a fair bit about my coaching offer on http://www.existential.coach/psychedeliccoaching/
What’s art and what’s not
I started to see coaching as an art form quite early in my practice. Even though my training was very much evidence-based and my education (especially my coach training) had been around science and philosophy, I’ve always been creative and music, art, painting and other forms of (more traditionally-recognized) creative activity had been a solid part of everyday experience. When my coaching work began to take more space in my life and I noticed myself DJing less, moving out of the warehouse space where I could afford a large studio space to build furniture, make a mess by spray-painting on records or any other forms of physical art, I had at some point become quite concerned about the lack of creative engagement. Until I realised that I’m basically now working with a different kind of canvas, one that’s alive and has its own mind, one that is steadily changing form and colour and which I couldn’t bend to my will the same way I could with music or painting. It was far more complex and all of a sudden it made perfect sense to me that my other creative endeavours gave way to my work with people.
Now in a recent supervision group we talked about the notion of “framing” and it I loved the idea of literally framing our clients (who arguably are a work of collaborative art). I mean putting them into a photo frame, something to look at and think: “I’ve helped create that! I facilitated this person’s journey towards becoming the person they are now.” Many artists will tell you that they cannot claim the final piece, that it is the art that wants to come out and they are merely a facilitator to support that process. I forgot who it was, but a famous sculpture once said that there’s a sculpture in every block of stone or wood, and it is their job to help it to see the light of day. I look at coaching (and any form of personal or professional development) the same way. And who knows, maybe, some day I’ll start hanging up pictures of my clients on my wall (with their permission, of course), to showcase the beautiful, mind-blowing and inspiring art form that I/m grateful to call my profession.
What almost broke me
Fuck you very much, Brené Brown! Also, I love you, you’re amazing! But this one almost broke me and I had to invest a lot of energy to let this one go and just pick any 5, rather than get all German about it. To explain, in Brené’s podcast Dare to Lead she asks her guest at the end of the episodes which 5 songs they couldn’t live without. Once I got asked for an interview about my record collection which of the 3000 is my favourite. An outrageously ludicrous question in my humble opinion! While your question is arguably a LOT better phrased it is still incredibly difficult to answer! So here’s where I got to. Take it or leave it. 6 (!) songs I really really really wouldn’t want to miss in my life. I can’t possibly start writing as to why these are important to me, otherwise I’ll sit here all weekend, so I’m gonna leave it at that. Invite me to your podcast if you really want to know 🙂
- Cinematic Orchestra – All Things to All Men
- Ludwig van Beethoven – Mondscheinsonate
- People Under The Stairs – San Franciso Knights
- Massive Töne – Mutterstadt
- Zeds Dead – Undah Yuh Skirt
- LCD Soundsystem – New York I Love You
- And I should really mention this album as it’s the one I picked as my “favourite” record. I’ve literally been listening to this at least once every month since I’m 17 year old. It just never gets old. What a timeless masterpiece. Total and utter GEM!
PNS (Post-nugget scriptum): If you’re curious about Brené’s 5, here’s a segment of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, during which she tell you about hers.
PPNS: Since emoticons became a thing it always bothers me when I use a closing bracket ahead of a colon ): ICan you please tell me you’re not picking up on these things so I can stop worrying about spreading subtle sad vibes?!
“Sometimes we plant seeds rather than find trees.”
Here’s the full quote: “When I remind myself that sometimes we (my client and I) plant seeds rather than find trees, it takes the pressure off hitting the session goal, or even the coaching goal, within the time we’re working together. After coaching for nearly 11 years, this happened a fair bit. I’ve brought many a case to supervision with whipping doubts of whether I’ve served my client well enough, only to find out months later how important the work had been in laying the right foundations for the more visible change. Trust the process!”
Been pretty busy with the launch, so not a lot has happened on the content front. Though I am happy to announce that my colleague Heather and I now got 3 episodes of our new podcast Talking about Coaching & Psychedelics fully edited and we will be releasing them shortly! Plus, as soon as we onboard our VA, there’ll be 6 more episodes of Talking about Coaching with my partners Siawash and Nicki. On that note: We’ve got a few more episodes on the shelf and if you don’t want to wait, you can catch the most recent ones by watching the unedited replay of our Facebook live recording sessions.
I was honoured that the Association for Coaching invited me to talk about what I love. Darren was an awesome host and we’ve had a really good time. Hope you’ll enjoy our conversation as much as we enjoyed having it. The feedback I got so far was amazing and warmed my heart. This is a good one!
- 10th March: An Introduction to the ACIC – Accredited Certificate in Integrative Coaching. For those who would like to know more about our ground-breaking coach training programme I’ll be running two live webinars. I’ll be telling you the story behind the course, introduce the syllabus and faculty, present the pathways for new as well as experienced coaches and answer any questions you may have. Plus there’ll be a 10% additional discount for all attendees. you can join at 7pm AEST or 6:30pm GMT
- 16th March: Coaching Lab Social – our free monthly community meetup for coaches to continue the conversation from the Lab and/or talk about anything coaching-related.
- 17th March: Coaching & Psychedelics Drop-In Session – Our monthly community meetup. This time we’ll be talking about a possible framework/definition for coaching in the context of psychedelics. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
- 18th March: Pub Psychology – TBC
- 1st April: Positive Psychology for Coaching Live Q&A – This is the monhtly live seminar for students of my Positive Psychology for Coaches online training. Enrolled students only but v ery affordable.
- 6th April: Coaching Lab 13 with Dr Natalie Lancer – Be a fly on the wall for this live coaching demo focused on helping a client through inertia and stuckness on a BIG project (Tickets from 20£ via MeetUp & Eventbrite). 20% discount on annual membership with access to all our recorded sessions!
- Every fourth Friday: Coaching Supervision Groups – If you are a coach and looking to join a small group of colleagues to hone your skills or build your business (or both), you can apply to join one of my groups at http://bit.ly/SupervisionWithYannick.
- 9th June: WBECS Summit – A heads up that I’ll be presenting at the next WBECS Summit, both at their free Summit on the 9th June as well as their paid Summit on 27th January 2022.
That’s it! If you’re reading this, I appreciate that you’re still with me and I hope you enjoyed reading my Nuggets. Again, if any of it resonates, make it swing! I’d love to hear from you 🙂
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