While there are many possible topics and strategies to include in a coaching practice, Certified Trauma Recovery Coaches focuses on the following guiding principles. These principles are the foundation of an effective and competent coaching practice. When a coach addresses and utilizes these with a client significant healing can take place.

Principles concerning our work with clients

  • Coaches work with clients as equals and peers, not as superiors.

  • Coaches function as guides, mentors and teachers.

  • Coaches are listeners over talkers.

  • Coaches provide endless amounts of compassion and validation to their clients.

  • Coaches do not operate on a traditional medical model. They do not see their clients as broken or in need of fixing. They approach their client as an individual who is having a normal reaction to an abnormal experience.

  • Coaches operate from a strength based model and believe that their client has the capacity to direct their own healing when provided with the necessary support and encouragement.

  • Coaches focus on helping a client build up their strengths, healthy beliefs, and positive coping strategies rather than extinguishing “negative” behaviors and beliefs.

  • Coaches provide education about trauma to their clients to help them understand and normalize their experiences.

  • Coaches recognize that interpersonal trauma causes individuals to disconnect from themselves, the world and other human beings. They help their client find safe ways to reconnect.

  • Coaches help their clients see the system of beliefs that their abusers groomed them to adopt as their own. They help their client to learn the truth about themselves, relationships and the world.

  • Coaches model healthy behaviors and beliefs with their clients. They also model healthy relationship skills so that clients learn how to relate to others and themselves.

  • Coaches help client’s set their recovery goals and together with their clients they set a path to reaching those goals.

Principles concerning our coaching practice

  • We advocate for survivors of trauma in the world at large.

  • We never stop working on our own recovery and seek professional help when necessary.

  • We acknowledge areas of growth in our coaching skills and seek training, information and supervision to build our strengths in those areas.

  • We give back to the survivor community by periodically providing services affordable to those without many financial resources so that high quality coaching services are available to our entire community. 


Each Trauma Recovery Coach certified by the International Association of Trauma Recovery Coaching is held to the following standards. Violation of these standards is grounds for a review, and possibly a removal, of their Certification. Prior to every two year renewal of a coach's Certification they must take a review course on the Code of Ethics. It's a vital part of our professional standards.

Scope of Coaching Practice

  • Trauma Recovery Coaches do not work with client’s who are engaged in behavior that puts their physical safety at risk, such as: active alcohol and drug addiction, active and significant self-harming behavior.

  • Trauma Recovery Coaches do not work with clients who are actively suicidal.

  • Trauma Recovery Coaches do not have sessions with clients who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Coaches must reschedule clients in that situation and address the drug or alcohol issue at a subsequent session.

  • Trauma Recovery Coaches provide Trauma Informed Services at all times.

  • Trauma Recovery Coaches do not offer services to clients who require assistance with issues outside of the coach’s scope of competence.

  • Trauma Recovery Coaches seek professional supervision from a qualified Supervisor when they encounter issues in their practice that they are not fully competent to handle.

  • Trauma Recovery Coaches do not diagnose or assess mental health issues.

  • Trauma Recovery Coaches do not provide advice about psychotropic medication.

  • Trauma Recovery Coaches do not work with minors.

  • Trauma Recovery Coaches do not conduct sessions under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


  • Trauma Recovery Coaches provide their services with complete confidentiality. Coaches do not disclose their work with any clients, client records or any client information to anyone without a written consent from their client or a court ordered subpoena.

  • Trauma Recovery Coaches obtain a written release from their clients upon a client request to share information with another individual, such as a doctor, psychiatrist or hospital.

  • Trauma Recovery Coaches keep accurate, detailed records of their work with clients. They store those records in such a way that does not allow access to them by anyone other than the Coach themselves. This includes both written documents and online data.

  • Trauma Recovery Coaches voluntarily serve as Mandatory Reporters. They ALWAYS report current and ongoing abuse to minors and elders to their appropriate local agencies.

Practice Standards

Trauma Recovery Coaches work with clients as peers and equals. They recognize that while they may be experts at trauma and recovery, their clients are experts on their individual needs and wishes.

  1. Trauma Recovery Coaches treat their clients, as well as their client’s time and money, with respect.

  2. Trauma Recovery Coaches do not discriminate against any race, gender, social class, gender identity or religious belief.

  3. Trauma Recovery Coaches respect their client’s views, ideals and beliefs.

  4. Trauma Recovery Coaches set goals with their clients that reflect their client’s needs and wishes, not those of the coach.

  5. Trauma Recovery Coaches do not allow clients to leave sessions when they are significantly triggered and feeling unsafe.

  6. Trauma Recovery Coaches set boundaries with their clients that facilitate the development of their relationship with their clients in sessions and adjunctive healing activities such as support groups. Boundaries are set that neither promote or accept interactions outside of coaching activities.

  7. Trauma Recovery Coaches do not engage in romantic or sexual relationships with clients.

  8. Trauma Recovery Coaches do not involve in financial dealings outside of the scope of coaching activities.

  9. Trauma Recovery Coaches do not refer their clients to services that they have not personally vetted.

  10. Trauma Recovery Coaches do not abandon their clients in any manner. If they must stop their coaching practice or release any clients they must do so with an explanation and a referral to other coaching providers.

  11. Trauma Recovery Coaches do not require contractual obligation with their clients regarding the length or frequency of coaching services.

  12. Trauma Recovery Coaches keep up-to-date with research and methodology in the field of trauma, trauma recovery and intervention.

Therapy vs Coaching

There is a difference between therapy and coaching. Depending on where you are in your recovery, you may find tremendous benefits from working with either kind of helping professional.

All of us have a journey to make in this life. Sometimes we know exactly where we’re headed but unexpected events occur that cause us to lose our focus, be distracted or become completely debilitated. At other times we don’t have a clue which way we need to head. We’ve become lost or our passion is leading us to change course. In both of these scenarios we can greatly benefit from the intervention of professional help. But what kind?

Some of us develop a mental illness that is so severe that it causes us to either not be able to move forward or to veer completely off course. We are disabled by our illness, either temporarily or permanently. Therapists, with their expertise and experience, are best suited for helping us when we are in this stage of our journey. 

Others of us find ourselves in situations where we get stuck in a rut, lose our sense of direction, or become confused at choices in the path before us. We are not disabled by a mental illness, although we may have been in the past or we may have a mental illness but it is not so severe that it prevents us from moving about freely. Coaching through one on one and community interaction is perfect for these individuals. 

Therapists are the trauma surgeons, emergency room personnel and paramedics of the mental health and well being community. Coaches have a fully stocked first aid kit and skills to put it to good use, but they are not physicians. Coaching clients may be what I call “the walking wounded” but they have to be ambulatory in order to be a good fit for the coaching process. 

A coach comes alongside their client to brainstorm, provide information, and examine potential decisions. A therapist can do all of these things, but they often also need to intervene at a deeper level to direct care, prescribe behavior and make choices on behalf of their client. A coach never takes that much control over a client’s life. Guide and encourage, yes. Command direction, never. 

People can, and sometimes need to, move between therapy and coaching. Individuals who have gotten their mental health illnesses under control or in remission can benefit tremendously from individual and group coaching. Individuals who are being coached need to transfer to a therapist if they experience a mental health crisis. A good coach will help a client make this transfer when decompensation occurs, rather than continuing to try to tend to themselves.