Fall Newsletter! Italy Chronicled, Student Spotlight, and Pro-Tip

Sep 27, 2023

Wow! This summer was a whirlwind. I haven't been able to communicate with all of you as much as I would have liked to, so there is some catching up to do!


I thought I would begin with our most recent adventure, which was the Trauma Coaching Retreat in Italy. I was also fortunate enough to be invited to present at the Trauma and Attachment Congress in Rome. Both events were uniquely impactful, and I am so grateful for all of those I had the pleasure of getting to know along the way.


A few of us began with a visit to one of the many gems of Italy: Cinque Terra. Spending a little time here gave us the space to get oriented to the country, get our bodies adapted to a new time zone, and to begin to prepare for a couple of weeks of really hard work.


There is so much to say about Cinque Terra. It's stunningly beautiful. It looks like a postcard. It's quaint and enriched by its' historical context. We ate a lot of food. We made pesto. Some of us got to paddleboard the coastline. Cinque Terra must be one of the most incredible places I have ever visited.


The second part of the trip was the Trauma Coach Retreat-Style training, which we facilitated in a small Italian village called Casperia. This was an intimate setting with indescribable views at every turn, and we were able to enjoy a quieter lifestyle for a few days. Our classroom was small and quaint, which allowed us to really get to know each other.


We took a cooking class from a woman who shared her kitchen and dining room with us, which imparted lessons that go beyond the food we prepared. Our delegates also spent some time in Rome visiting the Vatican, the Colosseum, and the beauty of The Eternal City.


Following the Trauma Coach retreat, I had the honor of presenting at the Trauma & Attachment Congress in Rome. Wow! What an experience! Not only was I able to share my presentation with an international audience, but I was also able to spend three days with a lot of other professionals for whom I have a great deal of respect. This experience was humbling in many ways, and it is one I will never forget.

Attachment & Trauma Congress, Rome

Our next Trauma Coaching retreat is going to be in Vietnam this spring! This delegation will occur in partnership with Integrative Trauma Treatment Center (www.traumacenternw.com) and Global Engagement Institute (https://www.global-engagement.org/course/trauma-vietnam).


If you are interested in joining us, keep an eye on this page https://www.theorendaproject.org/international. We are going to set up payment plans for this delegation as well. We will limit the number of participants to 10 people so if you would like to get your name on the interest list, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]. You can also register here: https://www.global-engagement.org/course/trauma-vietnam.

Trauma Coach Training - Italy Delegation, 2023


Student Spotlight


Our student spotlight for this month is on Dominique Johnson, who is preparing to launch her Trauma Coaching business at the end of the month! Dominique captures a combination of kindness, courage, integrity, and intelligence. She is a source of inspiration and really approaches learning through a lens of humility and curiosity.


Dominique's coaching business is called Live Again Coaching. The name of her business captures the essence of what it means to be a Trauma Coach and reflects her orientation to supporting survivors. There truly is something on the other side of this work, and having someone like Dominique as support makes a tremendous difference. No one should have to do this work alone.


If you want to learn more about Dominique and her approach to this work, here is a link to her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100094643001763

I also interviewed her and have posted the full interview on our YouTube page! You can watch the video in its' entirety here: https://youtu.be/l9B5PpFxC1o?si=zYJgW9igGWN91lO1

Congratulations, Dominique and thank you for your commitment to this work!

Pro-Tip: Practicing Humility + Combating Entitlement  


International travel always generates some self-reflection and cultural evaluation. This trip really highlighted some of the challenges the United States is struggling with, and I would argue some of these difficulties are notable within the field of mental health.   


First, let me tell you a story.   


One of the requirements for me to be able to present at the Trauma & Attachment Congress was that I also attend the other presentations.   


My first question here was, why would this need to be a requirement? It's a gift! The opportunity to learn is something I am always grateful for. I also recognize that much of the world does not have as many educational opportunities as those of us in the West.  


Those who come from more expect more, which can challenge our ability to orient towards opportunities as gifts versus entitlements.  This was one example. 


And, this is part of the cultural and emotional backdrop of the story I am about to tell.    


So, during the Congress, one of the presenters began to share a personal story to exemplify the point he was trying to make. Even before he began to share this piece of his past, he was already sweating and uncomfortable. Shortly after he began telling his story, he became silent. He appeared taken aback by his own emotional response to the story he had prepared for us.   He became tearful and struggle to speak for a moment.


Do you know what the audience did? THEY APPLAUDED HIM IN SUPPORT!   


This context was quite formal, which is different from many American conferences (neither is bad or good...they are just different). In alignment with tradition, the expectation was one of formal or professional attire.   


The problem was that he was physically warm, which makes sense given the combination of jet lag, presenting in front of a large audience, and an unexpected emotional response. He said, "I'm going to need to take my jacket off..."  


Do you know what the audience did then? THEY APPLAUDED HIM AGAIN! This was in recognition of his discomfort and their desire to offer him support.   


As someone who has presented to a variety of audiences, I was stunned. Western audiences can sometimes be unforgiving of vulnerability, can become aggressive, and sometimes express feeling cheated out of something they felt they didn't get as a result of fallibility.  


I have really been reflecting on the way mental health providers speak to each other, often with a judgmental or aggressive overlay.  Asking a question can be met with all kinds of responses, some of which are kind, some of which are cruel, and some of which not helpful at all.   


All of that brings me to the Pro-Tip, which is to Practice Humility + Combating our own Entitlement within our professional communities as well as with clients.   


The thing about entitlement is we don't really know what we believe we are entitled to until we don't get what we believe we deserve. The more we believe we are owed, the more challenging it is to experience contentedness.


And entitlement is incompatible with humility, which is necessary for meaningful human connection. Being able to see and attune to others can only occur when we are open to who the other person is and can see their humanity. Our own humanity also becomes less visible when are ourselves entitled.   


As coaches and/or therapists, our overarching goal is to be able to accurately see the people we serve through a lens of compassion. We also need to cultivate professional connections for the sake of longevity. 


This pro-tip is a sort of prompt for us to look at ourselves in the mirror in effort build our capacity for real connection, to set ourselves up to experience more joy than disappointment, and to support each other in this work we are doing together. And on that note, I want to express my gratitude to all of you for the work you do! 


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