My Coaching Journey

Updated: Feb 4

Early days

The Path. Watercolor crayon on paper. Discovery Bay, Hong Kong. Feb 2020.

My own coaching journey started with professional organizer and coach Kathy Paauw in the mid-1990s.. I did not anticipate that a series of phone calls could help me to boost my productivity, balance my work priorities and even clarify what mattered most in life.

I am forever thankful for Kathy’s coaching for over two decades. She helped me reflect on my thoughts and beliefs, clarify my values and take action from a place of integrity.

Looking back at some of the most important crossroads in my life, I can clearly see where coaching helped me to make choices that were aligned with my core values. Some were incredibly painful, like saying goodbye to my husband as he went away to attend architecture school in another state.

Others seemed like professional suicide, like leaving a successful academic career in Washington state to start over with medical licensing in Hong Kong. Coaching helped me to access my own courage and grit, reaching beyond my comfort zone by tapping into my wise authentic self.

It makes intuitive sense that we can only live our best lives when we are able to choose integrity, but it is surprisingly hard to do so on our own without help.

Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash

Coaching vs therapy

People sometimes ask if coaching is like therapy. I tend to think of psychotherapy as being the best process for discovery and healing when you have a clinical diagnosis like anxiety or depression. While coaching is more about examining goals and thoughts that move us forward.

Coaching guides us to claim agency over our lives by helping us learn to trust our intuition.

Coaching allowed me to go deeper and to listen for my inner wisdom, which was usually buried under layers of internalized “shoulds”, “buts”, and “what ifs”. I tended to worry about what others would think when I diverged from the traditional path. Coaching guides us to claim agency over our lives by helping us learn to trust our intuition.

Outside the box

I’ve learned that while I always thought of myself as being pretty conventional, that was because I wanted to wrap myself in the security blanket of approval from others. But there was a part of me that has always resisted. Like when I chose Women’s Health as an emerging specialty before it became mainstream, or being drawn to Integrative Medicine when it was still considered voodoo.

Moving to Hong Kong was another unexpected choice in some ways, but long overdue in others. My work in coaching myself now is often centered on embracing the label of “unconventional”, and in the idea that maybe what others love about me is that they see me as an intrepid explorer.

Photo by Sébastien Goldberg on Unsplash

Coming home

When I started coach training in the fall of 2019, I wasn’t sure what direction this work would take. Was I just adding another communication tool to augment my work in primary care? Or would I be carving a new path for myself?

I was completely unprepared for the joy and sense of peace that seems to be permeating my being. It’s like coming home. I love connecting deeply with clients, hearing their stories and gently guiding them to seek out their inner wisdom.



Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine (AZCIM) Integrative Health and Wellness Coaching (IHW) program

Accredited online training program open to both health practitioners and non-health practitioners interested in joining the helping professions. Graduates are eligible to sit for the US National Board of Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) board examination.

The Life Coach School Podcast

Learn more about life coaching through this free podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind and emotions

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