Photo via @barbara_mary_powell
Today on The Wit & Delight Podcast, I’m sitting down with Barbara Powell. Barbara is a professional certified health coach who is from the company Speakeasy, which presents a brand new way of looking at how we deal with really bad days. You can essentially drop in at one of Speakeasy’s three Minneapolis locations or schedule an appointment online with a licensed professional to talk about whatever is on your mind. The whole idea is that you look at how you’re feeling right now in the moment and figure out how you can take actionable steps toward moving past whatever is on your mind.
In this conversation, we discuss how Speakeasy helps clients, what it means to be a health coach, and how to know when you should go to therapy versus going to see a health coach. It’s an enlightening look at how we can approach the bad days and tough situations that inevitably arise in life.
Read an excerpt from our interview below, and listen to the entire episode on The Wit & Delight Podcast! Looking for more posts from Wit & Delight on how to approach bad days? You can find recent examples here, here, and here.
Name: Barbara Powell
Occupation: Health Coach
More About Barbara: I was raised in a large, Catholic family on the east coast where there simply wasn’t a space to “feel your feelings” in a public way. As I moved through my career, I realized that I wanted to be of service to others as they OWN who they individually are—feelings and all. I’m a retired marketing and sales rep, a nationally board-certified health coach, and a running coach with 9 marathons and countless road races under my belt. I love to celebrate my clients’ uniqueness and their own—perhaps circuitous—journey through this thing we call life.
I am also a Run Coach at True Grit Society in the uptown Minneapolis. Running is a beautiful way to get in the body, quiet the mind, and learn how to simply breath, accept, and even let go! All components that are used in coaching.
Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and how you are involved with Speakeasy?
Barbara Powell: I’m a national board-certified health coach here in Minnesota. As of right now, there are just shy of 3,000 of us throughout the country, so we’re a small but strong force. I’ve partnered up with Speakeasy to be able to offer in-the-moment emotional support for folks.
Speakeasy is all about being a remarkably easy and affordable way to talk face-to-face with a professional like myself about having a bad day or about something that you’re moving through or about a big emotion that you’re experiencing. It’s about being able to normalize those feelings in such a way that they don’t feel really heavy, you know? The process feels more accessible, kind of like sitting down and having a cup of coffee with a person and feeling more comfortable to talk through what you’re going through in life right now.
So you help minimize the problem. Or do you sort of put things into perspective? How do you go from disaster mode with the client to being able to laugh about it?
Barbara Powell: We have people come through for all rhyme and reason. There are folks who are feeling as though they’ve had that disaster day or folks who think, hey, my job isn’t necessarily feeling like a good fit and I want to be able to brainstorm about that.
The process that we use with health coaching is first and foremost about working with the present moment. So anytime a client comes in, we sit down together and before we even get started, we just take a deep breath. We get into the moment together to say, okay, here I am right now showing up for myself. As we start moving through the session, it’s an allowance for the person to really unpack what they’re experiencing, to lay it all out there. And then after the unpacking, it’s about processing it.
I’ll have them ask, why might this be coming up? What am I feeling in my body as a result of this big experience or emotion that I’m going through? What can I learn from this? What do I want to do as a result of what’s happening here? And then in the final stages of the session, we ask how the client can move forward. We’ll work through what tools and techniques they can use going forward. What is a way in which they can go back out into their life with this predicament, issue, concern, emotion, and feel as though they have either control of it or feel better about the situation and much more empowered to take action?
Sometimes I’ll do downloads with myself in tough moments and think, okay, let’s pause for a second. Why am I wanting to avoid this? I have this understanding of myself now that when discomfort shows up in work or in life, it means that I need to run toward it versus away from it, because when I move away from it, it tends to compound on itself and become a more nebulous issue. But if I handle it in the moment and if I’m not afraid of the discomfort, those problems seem so much smaller. It took forever to even figure out that discomfort was a good signal versus a reason to shut down completely and not feel anything.
Barbara Powell: Right. And it’s about that discovery process. You brought a sense of curiosity to that and I think that’s what’s so important about this whole process, whether you’re having a conversation with someone here at Speakeasy or doing your own work outside with a therapist or even through a conversation with a friend. It’s about bringing that gentle curiosity to it and everything you can learn as a result of it.
What do you wish people knew about their options for caring for their mental health? People might think, I don’t want to go on antidepressants. I don’t want to go through talk therapy. I really don’t want to relive the trauma; I know I had a shitty childhood and I want to move on. What do you wish people knew about their options for providing care for their mental health?
Barbara Powell: On social media, we see so many folks being more vulnerable, and then we have this influx of options. From the health coaching perspective, it is our strong belief that each and every person is intrinsically whole. Each and every person has the answers within them. Each and every person has the ability to shift and grow or simply just be in that moment.
From the health coaching perspective, it is our strong belief that each and every person is intrinsically whole. Each and every person has the answers within them. Each and every person has the ability to shift and grow or simply just be in that moment.
So my message around mental health and access and all the options that there are out there is for you to ask, where can you trust your gut on what you need? Can you ask yourself the question of, what am I experiencing today? What am I experiencing that’s ongoing? What might I actually need? Can I tune out the noise of what others are saying that they need? Can I focus in on myself for a moment? And that may lead to a therapy option or to psychotherapy. Especially if there’s chronic trauma or something that really does need to take the work to move through with the professional.
I think it’s really interesting to hear this idea that you’re available at all times to just sit in and talk through a bad day. Could you tell me who your ideal client would be? Could you paint that picture of someone who would maybe come to you for the first time?
Barbara Powell: Yes. And it’s funny because my gut response to that is, well, everyone who is going through the human experience could be our client. But our ideal client is someone who is experiencing that bad day. It’s someone who had a fight with someone that they love or who had a bad day at work or who is going through a breakup and really just needs to be able to cry it out, talk with someone, and move through what’s happening in that moment. We want to be the place that people think of when that bad day, that difficult emotion, that tough moment is happening and they need someone to talk to that day or tomorrow or as soon as possible.
So it’s an option when you feel like, I need to do something, I need to talk to someone, but I don’t know what to do. Instead of maybe going and drinking or eating or working so much that you don’t have to think about what’s happening, this can be in your arsenal of self-care options.
Barbara Powell: That’s right. Exactly.
Hear more of our conversation with Barbara Powell here:
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Kate is currently learning to play the Ukulele, much to the despair of her husband, kids, and dog. Follow her on Instagram at @witanddelight_.