Coaching and Trauma

Coming soon: Coaching to Change Lives – A one day masterclass in coaching and trauma

With Julia Vaughan Smith and Jenny Rogers

Click here to express an interest in our next course

The very word trauma is enough to alarm many coaches. Isn’t this exactly the sort of territory best left to therapists? That’s the theory. But in practice every coach will find themselves working sooner or later with a client who has experienced trauma in earlier life that comes into the coaching. Likewise, many coaches will carry similar experience which may influence their work with some clients or settings. Through this website we will share some of the thinking on relational trauma and the practical connections with coaching. We will be holding Masterclasses too on this subject.

The relationship of coaching with trauma

The experience is well captured in a searingly candid piece from the Guardian journalist Deborah Orr when she wrote about her own emotional issues:

“People tell me I’m “intimidating”. I’ve been told that for all my adult life. I’ve accepted it without understanding it, sometimes explaining what a shy child I was, how endlessly susceptible to bullying, in every context I ever found myself in. I’ve always been too scared really to question how it could be that other people saw me so differently to how I really felt (I even intimidated myself). I told myself it was just because I was someone from a working-class background in an upper-middle-class milieu. Anything to protect me from my secret shame – that I found everything intimidating. I find it hard to show that I’m hurting …Anything rather than acknowledge my debilitating fear, of the world and the people in it. I’m an idiot. Or I was.”

These common experiences have their roots in early development and childhood relationships. Our trauma biography may be multiple, such as is often the case with people who are unable to sustain employment for long or have recurrent problems with work. For many of us, however, the impact of our earliest experience is hidden from many in the outside world, showing itself at times of stress or through other recurrent survival behaviour.

We meet the trauma in the client and ourselves through our survival self and strategies ( concept described by Prof Franz Ruppert), our defensive systems. We meet it in the anxieties and difficulties in stress regulation, in relational problems with others and with work, in over-work or work avoidance, in the many distractions we get caught up in, in emotional pain, in aggression (overt or passive), in victim attitudes and in rescuing. Also in all those drivers described within Transactional Analysis including “I must be strong”. The survival self and strategies while developed to prevent us feeling deep emotional pain, do not help us live a full, healthy life. They bring exhaustion, illness, unhealthy habits (poor eating, smoking, drinking, drugs) and ultimately failing performance especially when in a job or context which is continually stimulating these survival strategies.

The nature of trauma and its impact on the individual and on their ways of relating is much misunderstood. We have found no coaching books with ‘trauma’ in the index and only a few therapy books that deal with the impact of early trauma on work behaviour.  And yet we know how widely prevalent psychological trauma is.  Inevitably we meet the trauma in the client and in ourselves at times in our work. How do we experience that and what do we do about it in the coaching?


Through our blogs on this website and through the events we run, we will address the questions:

What is psychological trauma? What causes it?  What are the consequences?

What is the impact on our psyche and survival behaviour?

How does this relate to the work setting?

How does trauma and its impact come into the coaching relationships?

What do you do if a client tells you about traumatising memories? Or becomes retraumatised?

What about us as coaches and our own history?

What are the dangers? How as a coach do you avoid being pulled out of shape?

How might these issues show up when you are working with a team?

How do you recognize your limits?

What works when you are coaching a client who is caught up in her/his trauma in the present? How possible is it to work with a client to rediscover their Healthy Self?

The Facilitators

Jules Vaughan SmithJulia Vaughan Smith is an accredited executive coach and coach supervisor with over 24 years of experience as well as an integrative psychotherapist. Over the last 8 years she has specialized in the study of trauma and working with the theory and method developed by Professor Franz Ruppert.  She has run many events for coaches on ‘applied psychotherapy’ over the last 12 years.
phone 07780 666508

Jenny RogersJenny Rogers has 26 years as an executive coach,  writer and supervisor. She has been training other coaches for more than 15 years.  Her book Coaching Skills: The Definitive Guide to Being a Coach is regarded as the standard reference text worldwide and is now in its 4th edition. She has written books on the MBTI and the FIRO-B and is Series Editor of Coaching in Practice series from the Open University Press. Her book Coaching with Personality Type: What Works will appear in mid 2017.

Express an interest in future events

For more information contact Julia or Jenny.

Message submitted via the following form will be forwarded to both Julia and Jenny. Or you can phone Julia on 07780 666508

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