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“I work with my clients to move them out of the past and into a life that is beyond surviving.”

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Rachel Grant is the owner and founder of Rachel Grant Coaching and is a Trauma Recovery and Relationship Coach. With her support, clients learn to identify and break patterns of thought and behavior that keep them from recovering from past sexual abuse or making changes in their relationships. Clients come to Rachel when they have realized it’s not enough to ‘just survive’ past abuse.

Rachel holds an M.A. in Counseling Psychology. With this training in human behavior and cognitive development, she provides a compassionate and challenging approach for her clients while using coaching as opposed to therapeutic models. For many people, coaching is more appropriate than intensive therapy or analysis. Rachel is a member of the International Coach Federation & San Francisco Coaches.

Rachel Grant, Rachel Grant Coaching - Principal

MO: What influenced your decision to specialize in trauma recovery and relationship coaching?

Rachel: I remember very distinctly the day in 2005 when the thought occurred to me, “I don’t want to just survive my life, I want to live it!” That thought stirred something deep inside of me and I set out to discover how I could live a powerful, authentic life free from the burdens and patterns of thought and behavior I was stuck in as a result of the abuse I experienced as a 10 year old.

So, I began reading, talking with others who had been abused, and reflecting on what lessons had really made a difference in my recovery up to that point. I realized that I had come to understand the abuse as an experience, that I had drawn the connections between the abuse and my current behavior – for example, I could explain why I didn’t trust others. However, there was one critical question that was not being answered by any of the books, therapists or friends, “So, what do I do about it?!”

Once I discovered the answer to that question, I decided to become a Trauma Recovery Coach and help adult survivors break free of the patterns of thought and behavior that were keeping them from living the authentic and powerful lives they wanted. I wrote a guidebook, Beyond Surviving: The Final Stage of Recovery from Sexual Abuse, based on everything I have learned along the way either by experience or through completing my masters degree in Counseling Psychology.

There was also a natural connection between this work and Relationship Coaching. For me, how we are relating to others is crucial to improving the overall quality of our lives. So, whether working with trauma recovery clients or not, I enjoy sharing communication and relationship skills that enhance connection and reduce conflict.

MO: Why have you chosen to use coaching as opposed to traditional therapeutic models with your clients? What are the advantages?

Rachel: I initially entered my masters degree program with the intention of earning a license in Marriage and Family Therapy. However, as I explored the field more deeply and compared it to my coaching experience, I came to understand coaching offered a way to interact with my clients that I am better suited for.

First of all, I am able to share with my clients more openly about my own journey. The techniques and lessons shared in the programs I have developed are not just ideas I teach, but are what I used during my own recovery and on a daily basis in my relationships. While the sessions never become “all about me,” my clients are encouraged and motivated by the stories I share with them to illustrate that it is possible to break out these patterns. This would not be as possible if I were a therapist.

Also, I think of therapy as moving a dysfunctional person to a functional place. I think of coaching as a taking a functioning person and giving them that extra boost to achieve a greater level of freedom, authenticity, or connection. I prefer to focus on the areas where my clients are stuck rather than diagnosing a disorder or dysfunction.

Finally, I enjoy the collaborative nature of coaching. I find it very satisfying to be a guide along the way, simply offering insights and reflection. I also enjoy giving very clear, specific directives to help my clients take our insights and put them into action out in the world.

I’m still pleased to have completed my masters though so that I can draw upon the various theories, particularly cognitive behavioral, that influence my work as a coach.

MO: Can you dispel any myths about your industry or profession?

Rachel: The field of coaching has been around since the ’60s and ’70s when business became more focused on organizational planning and consultants were hired to support managers and executives in improving processes and performance. When Stephen Covey published Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, this played a part in shifting the focus to helping individuals. I was surprised to learn that the history of coaching went so far back!

MO: For those who are survivors of abuse, what are some of the first steps they can take towards recovery?

Rachel: The first step to take is to identify where you are in your journey. I think of recovery as having three stages: Victim, survivor, and beyond survivor.

Moving from victim to survivor is an important stage of recovery. During this phase, we reflect upon the experience, actively engage in facing and owning what happened, and recognize the connections between the abuse and the way we feel, think or behave. However, this recognition and sense of empowerment is not enough. While “survivor” is a much better label than “victim,” it does not go far enough in framing an identity that leads to a thriving and powerful life.

I strongly believe that the wounds of abuse can be healed. We can see the scar that was created, but do not feel the pain, need to compensate, or constantly re-bandage the wound. However, this requires another shift – from survivor to beyond surviving. For that reason, I use the term “beyond survivor” to describe myself, and it is my hope that my clients come to describe themselves this way as well.

Knowing where you are is very important in helping you determine what type of support to seek. If you are just at the beginning stage of identifying yourself as a survivor, then a program like Beyond Surviving will be too confronting. However, if you are an adult survivor of sexual abuse who is no longer satisfied with simply understanding the impact of the abuse and the connections between your past experience and your present day life, then my course would be a great fit.

MO: Can you talk about how you developed your 16 session program, Beyond Surviving? What kind of results have you seen so far with your clients?

Rachel: Beyond Surviving has been through a few iterations since the first course I held in 2007. At that time, I was using another author’s workbook with many of my own lessons built into the program. As I completed my masters degree, I realized that I wanted to overhaul the entire course and create my own book that honed in specifically on the techniques that I believe have the most impact. I also wanted to share more of my own story in a concrete way to illustrate the lessons. During the fall of 2011, I sat down one day and the guidebook just poured out of me.

The guidebook is roughly divided into six sections. We begin by first of all coming to an understanding of how the brain is wired as a result of abuse and techniques for challenging this wiring. Next, we explore and unveil the false beliefs that we have about ourselves, others, and relationships because of the abuse. Then I teach some techniques for breaking out of these patterns of thought and behavior. We then discuss the emotional and relational impacts of abuse before exploring how we move on and have a conversation with our abuser if that is something we want to do.

One of my life goals is to make sure that people are better off for having known me, and I achieve that goal whenever I work with my clients to move them out of the past and into a life that is beyond surviving, whether that be individually or in small groups. It is wonderful to see the transformative effects the book and course has had on participants’ lives. My Beyond Survivors have gone on to medical school, started their own businesses, traveled to Copenhagen for an internship, and gotten engaged. I am so proud of the amazing accomplishments of them all and am extremely honored to share my story and to be a part of their journeys.

MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?

Rachel: I am in the process of designing and formally publishing Beyond Surviving: The Final Stage of Recovery from Sexual Abuse. To see it coming together in the new format and to have the opportunity to get it listed and available for distribution is wonderfully exciting.

On the near horizon, I am most looking forward to leading the course a couple of times a year and would like to hold a course for men within the next two years.

On a personal note, I am finishing up my third season with Freeplay, a hip-hop dance company I perform with, and am working to make this the year I finally travel to Italy!

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