An Interview with Veronika Tracy-Smith, PhD
KQ: Hello Veronika and thank you for joining us today. Can you share with us what led to your decision to go into the field of coaching after being in private practice as a psychologist and teaching at a university for so many years?
VTS: Yes, I am happy to. Well it actually was a progression. In 1998 I actually took my first coaching class. I had been doing consulting for about 5 years with an Employee Assistance Program, working with managers, employees and doing interventions after traumatic events in the workplace. Most of my work was dealing with difficult situations, employee problems, substance abuse and trauma. I specialized in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and sexual abuse in my private practice for many years.
When I took the coaching course way back then coaching was so new and it was very basic training on goal setting and motivation. I had already done some work in Sports Psychology and used these skills with some of my clients like pro surfers, baseball players and amateur golfers, more that played for fun. I had been a tennis and gymnastics coach early in my adult life and have always loved sports. I utilized the training of Dennis Waitley, who was a major inspiration to me in high school. He was one of the first sports psychologists and worked with Olympic athletes.
I did a bit of coaching at the time but I mostly thought that coaching was for workplace problems and was not interested in pursuing this line of work.
It was not until I went through training with Cindy Wigglesworth on Spiritual Intelligence Coaching and became a certified coach through Deep Change. I did not have a plan to coach outside of the Spiritual Intelligence skills but slowly I started to hear how far coaching had come. I started to fall in love with the positive growth aspects and focus on strengths, assessments for growth and helping people to focus on their vision for their life.
This incorporated what I loved about psychology, coaching sports and all that I learned from Dennis Waitley in the early 1980’s. The way that I do therapy has always focused on what is positive, while dealing with the pain the person is experiencing. My way of working has always been to help people find their dreams based on their passions. Coaching really started to make more sense to me.
Another part of my apprehension to become a coach is that there are so many people calling themselves coaches with no education, training and their experience is only that they have had some personal experiences. This made me want to avoid the label of coach. I decided to get training for people that already have advanced degrees and received training from the College of Executive Coaching for Personal and Executive Coaching. I also decided to get the gold standard credentials of Board Certified Coach through the Center for Credentialing and Education as well as the International Coaching Federation. It is important to be professional and to have integrity when you are dealing with peoples’ lives and careers and I wanted the best training and experience. I always want to come from integrity.
KQ: What excites you most about coaching?
VTS: What a great question! I love talking about coaching. What is the most exciting part is to help my clients bring out a vision they have for their life that they have secretly kept, even from themselves, and bring it into the light. I love to help them realize their values, live them and grow beyond what they thought they could do. Coaching is so positive and I love to watch people grow and reach the goals they set!
KQ: Wow, that does sound exciting. I have never been in coaching and you are making me think about trying it. Why do people need coaching? Can’t I just read a book about coaching and do it myself? I am a pretty motivated person.
VTS: Yes, sure you could do that. I have taken that approach with myself at various times too. I have to say that there is something to sitting with another person as a thought partner that creates an amazing synergy for creativity, growth and new ideas. It has been so valuable to me to say out loud what I want to accomplish and to listen to how overwhelming it sounds at times. Other times it helps to try out ideas with a “thought partner".