HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON COACHING - AMY HALLAGAN
In my last blog, I introduced the idea of Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) and the hidden power they hold that is often left unexplored and unappreciated. I was lucky enough to be granted an interview with a practicing Life Coach, Amy Hallagan, who is herself an HSP and specialises in coaching people with this trait. Being HSP myself it was a really amazing experience to chat with someone who I could relate to and the instant connection was electric. In fact, at one point during the interview, Amy declared that she was feeling so energised that she wanted to jump up and down with joy. I will never forget that moment, that made me smile so much, so thanks Amy!
Like a lot of people who become Life Coaches, they have started their lives doing something completely different, but that has given them a very insightful experience to deepen their understanding of the journey of life.
Amy began her career working for a contractor to the US government in international development, where her intuitive and sensitive nature was very useful in building effective relationships to support her work. As well as the exotic travel, it was the people she worked with that she loved. However, she went on to train in clinical social work and became a counsellor, before deciding that Life Coaching was actually a more suitable path for her.
People often ask what is the difference between Life Coaching and counselling and Amy put it in this way, which I really liked. As a counsellor, the aim is to help the client heal, whereas coaching is more forward-thinking and creative, in that we do not see the client as broken; we are coaching them to expand their lives in a way that they never thought they could.
Amy always knew she was sensitive from a young age and, like most of us HSP's, finding an outlet for it can be a challenge. She says that Elaine Aron's book 'TheHighly Sensitive Person' practically jumped out at her from the shelf and now she sits on Elaine's official directory of HSP coaches.
Her coaching is about helping people develop creative consciousness of themselves; helping them to find balance and, importantly, making sure that who they are is aligned to how they are living. She uses Strengthfinders to help identify the client's top strengths, and a needs/values assessment to identify what they need from and give back to the world. The balance of giving and taking is very important in life.
Amy finds reward in seeing the client surrender to who they really are, because only when you let go can you find freedom. For HSPs it is about embracing their sensitivity and seeing it as a strength, where in the past they might have felt it to be a weakness. HSPs have an energy that causes real pain to them when they have to make it small. She asks her clients to imagine if they were on a desert island with no modern society to influence them, where they can let that inner spirit free. That is the motivation that HSPs should be living their lives by.
But of course, it is important that we acknowledge that we are part of a wider society and therefore we must remember to balance our intuition with the facts; remembering to read the directions rather than totally relying on our intuition. While this is our natural skill, we must remember to train our other muscles also.
Amy has some bold ideas on a bright future for HSPs, where they not only become more well-known, accepted and valued, but going a step further, they are actually sought out for specific employment or civil society positions. Imagining what the world would be like if every HSP was aware of themselves and through this, was able to achieve something amazing, is actually, in my opinion, a very exciting and motivating thought.
Just by connecting with others who share this heightened energy can be so rewarding and life-affirming. I am able to connect with other HSPs through Meetups in London in which I have found a truly, supportive and inspiring community. But we are not always lucky to be born into families or communities that allow us to explore this side of us. We often have to actively seek out our people, which sometimes means having the courage to veer from the mainstream and sometimes unsuitable path carved for us by society and pursue our own unique journey.
As a Life Coach this is the courage that I want to help my clients to find. Thanks to Amy for being part of the inspiration!
Take care for now.
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