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Are your obstacles a gift in disguise?

Sometimes the obstacles getting in the way of achieving our goals can be just what we need to get creative. Redirecting our efforts in unexpected ways can lead to opportunities for growth we didn’t even know were possible for us.

How a disempowering barrier led to the creation of a new and empowering service

When the world went into pandemic lockdown in 2020 I knew the isolation, fear and loss of a sense of “normality” would have a huge impact on our mental wellbeing. It was time to get back to work and do what I do best: helping people work through challenges to create the best life they can whatever their situation. However, I soon found that before I could help my future clients break through their barriers, I first had to find a way around my own.

To comply with local state licensing to work as a psychotherapist in my new community, here in Cincinnati, would take several years and a huge financial investment just to repeat a similar accreditation process to the one I had successfully completed years ago in the UK. This was not going to help the people who needed me now and more importantly it was not going to make me a better therapist. What makes me a better therapist is working with my clients. Each unique: their experiences, stories, challenges and dreams are so different and each one teaches me in their own way how to be the therapist they need. I had to find another way to reach them.

I’ve always had an issue with authority and a tendency towards a quiet rebelliousness that got me into a fair bit of trouble in my teens.

As an adult I’ve learned to use this trait more effectively and get a real kick out of finding ways to achieve what I want despite the barriers in my way. So, I turned my frustration into fuel and, as I took to Zoom to stay connected with friends and neighbors, I started to share my challenge and tap into the brain power of my support network.

Good friends who care about and want the best for you are one of life’s true treasures. Many people love helping and solving puzzles and as soon as you share your challenge with just one other trusted person you have double the brain power working on a solution. If you have a few friends together then magic happens as new thoughts spark and build on one another. It is even better if they have different perspectives and experiences to draw on.

As most of my friends were not part of the therapeutic community, they were naturally looking outside the limiting frame I had put around my thinking.

What is the right question?

With the help of my friends I realized I had been asking myself the wrong question. Instead of asking “How can I continue to work as a psychotherapist when the barriers to reentry are so high?” I needed to focus on how I wanted to work and what outcome I wanted my clients to have. A more productive question would have been “What other ways can I work with others to help them build insight and develop skills to improve their lives and relationships." Placing the focus on how I wanted to work and the outcome I wanted for my clients, rather than on the barrier and a job title, opened up more possibilities and got our collective creative juices flowing.

Have you considered Life Coaching?

This was the question that changed everything for me. I was a little skeptical at first, thinking (as many therapists do) that coaching couldn’t be as effective as the deep psychological support that we provided. How wrong I could be.

Like so many professions, it takes a deeper understanding to fully appreciate the skill involved and how much it demands of you to progress from beginner to novice to master. I was intrigued however and kept my ego in check and an open mind as I researched the field, talked to life coaches and explored training opportunities.

After a few weeks I was convinced, this was my way forward. I was all in; signing up for the most challenging course I could find that met all my criteria. If I was going to invest in further training I wanted to ensure I was going to learn and grow so I could be the best coach I could for my clients.

I loved the training, which took me a year to complete. I learned new ways to help my clients let go of whatever was holding them back so they could create the lives they wanted. I also learned a great deal about myself too; how much more I was capable of and a few things it was time I let go of myself.

Achieving my certification as a Life Coach gave me not only a way to work with clients again, it gave me a better way to work with clients. I now combine my experience and insight as a therapist with my newer coaching skills, offering my clients a blend of both approaches that is right for where they are at this time in their life.

If you have spent a long time in therapy and feel you are no longer making progress it might be time to work with a coach who can support you, as you move from understanding the why of how you came to be at this place in your life and onto what you can do now. Building on the insight you gained in therapy, coaching will empower you to move forward to create the life you want and will support you as you strengthen the personal and relational skills you need to achieve that.

Creating a new path

I believe if I had stayed within the conventional model of psychotherapy here in the US I would have eventually achieved the accreditations, worked with clients and been somewhat fulfilled but I would have missed out on a huge learning experience. I would not have the additional skills I now have to work with clients from a coaching perspective and I probably wouldn’t have created my own practice and developed my own unique way of working.

What could you achieve if you turned your frustration into fuel and broke through your barriers? If you would like to explore working with me to find the gift in your own obstacles, please reach out through the Unburden website.

Let me know in the comments about the new pathways you created and what you learned in overcoming your own obstacles.

As always, if you are interested in understanding how coaching or therapy can help you to create the life you want please connect with me at

Recommended Resources

I trained with the International Coach Academy, a global school connecting students across the world, with a flexible program leading to certification accredited by the International Coaching Federation.

If you are a therapist considering training as a Life Coach, or anyone wondering about working with both approaches I am happy to have a conversation with you about my experience and can be contacted through my website, Instagram and LinkedIn. If you are a member of the BACP I am a facilitator of the Coaching Network for members interested in dual practice and our next Zoom gathering will be on November 14th 2022.

As I am writing these words for you I am thankful for...

Those friends who said, “Have you thought about becoming a Life Coach?” I will be forever grateful.


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