Frequently Asked Questions about my work as a Meaning Mentor
Plenty of questions to ask...so little time. Here are few of the heavy hitters to hopefully give you a better picture of what my work as a coach is like. Send me an email if I can clarify anything for you!
What's the difference between mentoring, therapy and coaching?
This is a great and important question. For a much more detailed answer, here is a link to a blog where I go more into depth about this. The biggest difference between mentoring, therapy and coaching is the shared goal and orientation.
Psychotherapy is first and foremost a healing relationship that is entered into to treat and care for wounds of all types. Therapy focuses on understanding our story, developing mindfulness, and healing your nervous system. I am a fully licensed therapist in Washington State and love healing work.
In coaching the goal is about teaching and informing people about how to improve performance. There is an expert (coach) and someone who is learning from them (student). These relationships tend to be more directive and educational.
In mentoring I join with people who are aware that they want to grow and take a next step in their lives. Healing may be a part of that, but the primary goal is on developing connection to your inner voice and activating your strengths so you can experience more meaning in your live. There is no diagnosing in mentoring and rather than teaching you how make meaning, together we focus on who you want to be and where you are empowered to move forward.
How did you get into mentoring?
Back in the middle of the 20th century a Jewish psychoanalyst named Viktor Frankl, imprisoned at the Tuerkheim concentration camp, came down with Typhoid fever and stole pages of paper to recreate a manuscript he had been working on before the camp. This manuscript would be the beginning of his writing and belief that all humans experience a "Will to meaning" that drives us and empowers our lives and actions. You can read more in his famous book, "Man's Search for Meaning". I read this book for the first time early into the Covid-19 quarantine and it changed my life. Like a focus lens pulling into clarity, I began to realize my passion for helping people live more meaningful lives. Whether it be in coaching, joining with people to help them gain the clarity and empowerment necessary to live into meaning, or in my work as a psychotherapist, holding space for healing and navigating wounds, I now see this as the focus of my life and work.
What do you in a mentoring session/relationship?
Mentoring moves in phases and meaning isn't discovered overnight. Because of this my mentoring is centered around developing an ongoing, long-term relationship with you. Long-term means different things for different people, but generally speaking the kind of connection I rely on for work and transformation takes at least 3-6 months of regular meeting to develop fully.
Phase I is all about developing an initial connection to one another and laying groundwork for meaning making in your life. This can include personality assessment, story work, and shared goal setting for our relationship, among other things. I have developed a meaning making model that will help guide us and develop a shared language during these early connections.
Phase II is where we dive more deeply into the skills your wanting to develop. As a certified mindfulness and yoga practitioner all of my relationships include focused work around developing mindful awareness and movement of your body. The conversations during this phase are a dynamic place for us to connect more deeply with one another, exploring next steps and places of resistance to growth.
Phase III is about maintenance. Some people decide to end coaching after Phase II and I support this totally. Other however desire to maintain our relationship and see value in transitioning our connection to ongoing support and development.
You talk about "meaning", what even is meaning?
I LOVE this question. Meaning isn't one thing. No one can give the ultimate definition of meaning because your experience of meaning is completely unique to your body, mind, brain. Part of why I like this work so much is that its always different and your journey of pursuing meaning will take a path no one else has ever been on. Pretty brave to seek meaning I think. While meaning can't be defined, it can be described however. Experiences of meaning are moments of connection, with yourself, the relationships in your life, and the world around you. More than that, to deeply experience meaning is to feel that you are responding to the unique elements life is presenting you in a way that only you can. Though not always easy or feel-good, I believe that once you've felt this connection, you won't want to go back to living without meaning.
Covid, Racial Inequity, Climate Change...isn't life basically meaningless anyway?
This is real. I feel this personally as well as in my work. Sometimes the weight of the world we live in can lead to the feeling that there isn't actually any meaning to be found. Though I get it, and work through my own feelings of meaningless I actually believe the opposite is true: The world we are present right here, in this moment presents the perfect context for us to experience meaning. Even more than that, I believe that for us to move forward as a species it will be essential that there are cohorts of people connecting deeply to their sense of meaning, ultimately bring more life and healing to the world around them. So rather than feel hopeless in our world I actually feel some excitement.
Remember that Viktor Frankl wrote his whole thesis on meaning while in a concentration camp. If meaning is available in a concentration camp, I believe it is available everywhere and to everyone, regardless of context.