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Should I Hire a Therapist or a Coach? Plus Body Image in Dating with Bri Campos




Things we dive into in this episode:

  1. Q&A - I am starting to date again, but I feel like people won't be attracted to me because of my body size. How do I heal from this?

  2. What is the difference between a therapist and a coach, and which should you hire

  3. How to advocate for yourself in healthcare and build trust with your providers


📘Resources


Brianna Campos is a Licensed Professional Counselor focusing on eating disorder recovery. Briana helps clients with body image through a weight-inclusive lens. In particular, she uses the Health at Every Size (HAES) paradigm to help clients find freedom and peace with food and their body. Brianna has also worked as an adjunct professor, teaching Introduction to Eating Disorders. Connect with Bri on her website or Instagram.



📌Episode Highlights


I am starting to date again, and I feel like living in a larger body is always a block when it comes to my self-confidence. How do I even reckon with this when people are always gonna judge me based on how I look?

  • Dating is hard! It is a lot of work.

  • No matter what size body you exist in. And we are gonna hold space that for those of us who exist in large bodies, it is exponentially harder because you cannot hide your body in dating.

  • A lot of times when it comes to dating, your body is your resume. And that can put so much pressure.

  • Hold space for the idea that yeah, your body might disqualify you from people, but what’s more important is asking yourself: What are you looking for when you are dating or looking for partnership?

  • Many people have their own unprocessed anti-fat bias for themselves. If you can imagine that somebody could potentially be attracted to you, it says way more about your body and what you feel about bodies like yours than it does about anybody else.

  • breaking free from a lot of the blocks when it comes to dating too is do you believe you deserve this? Do you believe that someone could possibly be attracted to you?

  • If you cannot stand your body or how you look dating is going to be harder, but not impossible. It is possible to hate your body AND find a loving partner.



What is the difference between therapists and coaches?

  • Therapists have the freedom and ability to explore the past and your trauma with you.  This is a regulated title. They go to school for therapy, have a therapy credential, say for a board exam, completed clinical hours.

  • Coaches stay in the present and think towards the future. They can acknowledge the past, but they aren’t going to spend too much time there. Coaches focus on how they can help you meet manageable and attainable goals?



I’ve had a lot of experiences with therapists where they didn't actually really help me. And I want to start working with a coach now to see if I can get a little bit more direct advice from someone. But I don’t know if I can trust a coach, because there are so many coaches who don't have a lot of training and certifications. What do you look for in a coach?

  • Focus on finding a provider you like, regardless of their title. Do you feel like you jive with this person? Do you feel like this person can teach you something? Just because somebody has a degree, just because somebody's been educated, doesn't mean that they can help.

  • Even though therapists are more “official,”that doesn't necessarily mean that they're the right fit for you when it comes to resolving the challenge that you're trying to resolve in real time.

  • If you’re looking to go back and open up a childhood wound or dissect a really complex relationship dynamic with a parent or something like that, going to therapy is a really good choice.

  • And you might still talk about those complex things with a coach, but you're just not going to do this deeper excavating,

  • How do you trust a provider? It’s the same as how you trust anybody in your life. A referral is a great way to trust somebody.

  • You might need to try out a session. It's kind of like dating. You might have to give it a go and see how it feels.



Can coaches be friends with their coachees?

  • Some people say no, but that really removes humanity from the relationship.

  • I believe you can be friends with your coach and vice versa, as long as there are boundaries and communication in place.

  • When both parties know exactly what this friendship is, what the expectation is, and it's not them taking care of me or me taking care of them, then the relationship can evolve.

  • I put it in the perspective of making sure disclosing is helpful. If a client and I are transitioning our relationship. Is this benefiting them? Is it benefiting me? If it’s not, then being friendly may not be the best thing for either of us.

  • And on the client end, it is important to make sure that you just keep trusting how you feel and voice how you feel, bring it into the room, bring it into the space, you get to advocate for yourself the entire time and these relationships were, I think, meant to be nuanced, like all other relationships.



Thanks for listening! 💖 Stay tuned to Caitie’s website for more episode updates and other exciting programs and resources.


Transcript


Brianna: I know one of the things people used to say and used to piss me off. They would say, well, you you can't expect someone else to love you if you don't love yourself as a therapist, that is trash. I have counseled many a people who hate themselves and have loving and amazing partners. So that is not true. But what I will tell you is if you do not work on your own self and body hatred, it's not going to go anywhere when you find someone who loves you. It'll just be like a rock in your shoe where you're convinced that the other shoe, you're convinced the shoe is going to drop. 


Caitie: Welcome to Whole, Full, & Alive, a podcast helping you feed yourself, feel yourself and be yourself. I'm Caitie Corradino. I'm a registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, a body image coach and the founder of Full Soul Nutrition, a method that combines nutrition counseling with a powerful toolkit of somatic healing modalities. I have guided hundreds of clients to freedom with food, their bodies and every aspect of their lives. I've also been through this healing myself, and on this podcast, I want to help you eat with confidence, embrace your body, form aligned relationships and create a life that you're in love with. I'll share actionable tools, no bullshit stories and interviews that will remind you why you have everything you need within you to feel whole, full and alive. Are you ready? Let's get into it.


Hey, welcome back to another episode of Whole, Full, & Alive, the podcast helping you feed yourself, feel yourself, and be yourself. Thanks so much for tuning into today's episode. I have a special guest on today's episode. We're gonna be talking today a little bit about body image, a little bit about body image and dating, and a lot about therapy versus coaching because a lot of people nowadays are in this debate of like, do I hire a therapist or do I hire a coach? And what the hell does that even mean? What is a therapist? What is a coach? And I've got someone on the show today who is both a therapist and a coach. Who more qualified to talk about this? And also a body image expert. 


So before we dive into today's episode though, let's just take a really deep breath. Wherever you are tuning in from, I invite you to just drop into your body, maybe feel into the bottoms of your feet. Feel the aliveness in the palms of your hands. Roll your shoulders a little bit and take a nice deep breath in through your nose. Feel your back expand a little bit as you breathe in and then exhale out your mouth, let it go.


And before we dive into today's topic, I also want to remind you that I've got a few limited spaces. I think by the time this episode publishes, it might be sold out, but I've got a few spaces still on my Nutrition & Intuition retreat in Scotland coming up in late March. If you want to leap into that adventure, I would love to have you. And I also have one space open for one-on-one coaching right now. If you need a little bit of support with nutrition, body image, self-confidence, learn more at my website. And every month I host a Back To You Intention Setting Ceremony, which is a community event. A bunch of people who listen to this podcast and love these topics come to that event. It's a really beautiful community space. You can learn more on my website, fullsoulnutrition.com


All right, today's guest, one of my favorite human beings in the whole world, Brianna Campos. She is a body image expert, body image coach, the creator of Body Image with Bri. She's also a licensed therapist. She's also a business coach for providers and also a body image specialist for providers who want more support in working with clients on body image. Did I miss anything Bri? She's also amazing and also from New Jersey. So we kind of have the same accent a little bit. 



Brianna: Are you drinking some coffee? I'm drinking coffee.


Caitie: I think I'm really excited. I'm really excited to have some coffee with Bri today. Welcome to Whole, Full, & Alive. Welcome back to Whole, Full, & Alive. She was on the podcast before, people.


Brianna: Thank you so much for having me. What a beautiful intro. And I just got to say too, I like as a business coach, um, yeah, this retreat that you're hosting is going to be absolutely amazing. I just went to Costa Rica in October with 19 human beings. And when I tell you it was a life changing experience and I was the one running it, like do not walk, run to the checkout, like sign up, take up this space. It's gonna be so amazing and I can't wait for you to be able to have this lived experience. So it's gonna be awesome.


Caitie: Thank you so much for that, Bri. Yeah, retreats are basically indescribably amazing and Bri knows that and I can't even imagine what it's like to be on retreat with Bri. I would love to imagine that. 


Brianna: One day, one day, maybe a jersey retreat we'll do.


Caitie: That would be amazing. We used to have coffee and bagels. 


Brianna: Exactly! Same wavelength. Love it.


Caitie: I love that. I love that. So we're going to start with some listener questions today as we usually do. And we're gonna just do one question about body image since Bri is a body image expert, and then we will dive into the therapy versus coaching topic for today. So the question that I did get about body image in dating is that I am starting to date again, and I feel like living in a larger body is always a block when it comes to my self-confidence. How do I even reckon with this when people are always gonna judge me based on how I look?


And I would say that this is a question that I get, I mean, at least once a week in session, to be honest, I mean, people are okay with intuitive eating and body acceptance and body liberation until they start dating again. And I get it. And I've said that so many times on this podcast that it makes sense and you're not alone if you're feeling this way. I feel like Bri it's a really beautiful resource. So I'm gonna let her take it away from here.


Brianna: Yeah, I'm excited to answer this question. I actually just, I just shared with Caitie at the top of this recording. I haven't shared very publicly about it, so now I am. But I'm, you found out here first. I am actually diving back into the dating scene. I've, you know, I kind of gave myself this unconditional permission of like, you don't have to, you don't have to be on the apps, you don't have to do it. And when I thought about what I wanted for 2024, I was like, okay, I know that if I want to find a partner that I either have to go out of my house and find dates, or I got to go back on the apps. And so that's what I'm doing. And I want to just hold space. And Caitie, I'm sure you can agree with this. Dating is hard. Like, it is like a job. It is a lot of work. No matter what size body you exist in. And we are gonna hold space that for those of us who exist in large bodies, it is exponentially harder because you cannot hide your body in dating, right? Like if you're going for a job interview, your body shouldn't be important, whether or not they're attracted to you shouldn't be important. I'm sure it plays a part. I'm sure it can come up. But a lot of times now too, like with job interviews, they'll go based off your resume, right? Before they even get you in the door. You're, a lot of times when it comes to dating, your body is your resume. And that can put so much pressure. 


I kind of devise people into like four camps when we talk about romantic partnership. So you have people who are dating, you have people who are single. For the people who are dating, you have two people, there's two kind of subsets. You have the person who wants to be in a relationship, but feels so insecure, feels like I can't imagine that anyone would be attracted to me in this body. And so it's a really deep self-esteem wound. And then the other person is probably the camp I would put myself in, of like, I know that I'm, I am that fricking catch. I know that somebody is going to find me and be like, wow, what a catch this person is. But I don't want to do the work to get there. Like it's hard. And I don't like doing things that I'm not good at. I don't like doing things that are new. That's the camp I would put myself in. I'm like, it's not a self-esteem issue. I don't even know what issue I would entitle it as. But then you have people who are in relationships and I would say there's two subsets for them as well. You have somebody who has a partner who loves their body and loves them, and that person cannot fathom, how is my partner attracted to me? I don't get it. And then you have the person who their partner has expressed, I'm no longer interested in being intimate with you, or I'm no longer attracted to you because of your body. So of those four, I've answered two of those on my podcast. I answered the, you know, my partner said they're not attracted to me anymore. What do I do? And I answered the, the one for the person who's like me of, I just can't be bothered. And that episode is with my dating coach, Lily Womble, and the episode is called, Agency and Pleasure. And we just talk about, like, especially as women, being able to ask for what we need, nevermind what we want, what do we want? So we go all into that. So I would say when it comes to this listener question of, I can't help but think that my body doesn't come up. I wonder if we could look at it differently. I wonder if we could, yes, we are gonna hold space for the idea that yeah, your body might disqualify you from people. What are you looking for when you are dating? What is it that interests you? And what I will tell you is being a person in a larger body, there are plenty of people on the internet who have no problem with my body and that's all they see me for. They are only talking to me for my body. And that's not what I want. That is not what I want. And so it's easier for me to say, I don't think we want the same things and to move on and to keep trying to find what it is that I want. And so I think being able to identify what is it that I'm looking for? What is it that I want? And Lily talks actually about this, Lily Womble. She has a podcast and you know, all of her program and I did her course and it was wonderful. But she talks about like your essence based preferences. What are you looking for when you're looking for a partner? What I find, Caitie, essence based preferences, 


Caitie: Ooooh essence space preferences.


Brianna: Right? We love that. So when we think about what we're looking for in a partnership, what we're looking for when we're dating, what I find is that there are so many people who have their own unprocessed anti-fat bias for themselves. So that's the first place I'm gonna recommend you start, is if you can imagine that somebody could potentially be attracted to you, it says way more about your body and what you feel about bodies like yours than it does about anybody else.


Caitie: Hmm. Yeah. It reminds me a little bit of something I talked about on last week's episode. I was talking about how someone asked me how long does it take to recover from an eating disorder? And something that came up was like, do you believe that you deserve recovery is really important? Do you believe that you deserve what it means to be fully, freely liberated from disordered eating and body shame. And that is the essence of probably breaking free from a lot of the blocks when it comes to dating too is like, do you believe you deserve this? Do you believe that someone could possibly be attracted to you? And I do appreciate that you acknowledge that the body is the resume in dating. It's like, yeah, that's true. And we can kind of grieve that like you always talk about, right? Like we can grieve that. We can be like, wow, it's kind of fricking frustrating that I can't submit a resume. And that person doesn't get to learn every other beautiful thing about me. But yeah, I think, I think so much of what you just said really does kind of, uh, scratch the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this question.


Brianna: What I'll say is this too. So and I share this on the episode I did recently on my partner isn't attracted to me or says they're no longer attracted to me since I've gained weight. And when I was beginning my own excavation of my body image work I remember there was a celebrity, there was somebody who, everybody was talking about how attractive they were. And this is a person in a larger body. And I didn't feel that way. I did not look at this person and think, oh my God, they're attractive. I literally looked at their body and was like, their body scares me, their body freaks me out. And initially, I just kind of kept that to myself because I was like, this is embarrassing. Like I'm supposed to be a body image coach and I'm saying this out loud. What it was evidence of was my own unprocessed anti-fatness that I needed to figure out, I needed to explore. And what I can tell you now is that when I see bodies like mine, I'm no longer disgusted or activated or afraid of, I've also filled my social media with pages of people who look like me. Seeing that representation over and over again has helped in sort of bridging that gap. So I don't want people to think that it's not hard. It is absolutely hard. I have talked to maybe seriously like, let's say five people since the beginning of the year. One of those turned out to be a fetishizer. Two of them ended up being just like interested in, just in my body. One was like, I don't know, kind of one foot in, one foot out. And then there's just one who actually ends up being nice. And so to me, that's a lot of work. You know, it's like you're going fishing and it's like, okay, well you got four bad fish. But what is my purpose? What is my intent? And my intent is I wanna find somebody to live life with. I wanna find a partner. I wanna find somebody who I can spend my time with. And so it's worth it. I cannot imagine trying to do this and also feeling like I hate my body in the process. So I would say if that's you, if you're like, yeah, I just, I cannot stand my body. I cannot stand how I look. Dating is going to be harder. I will just acknowledge that up front. I also don't believe, I know one of the things people used to say and used to piss me off. They would say, well, you you can't expect someone else to love you if you don't love yourself as a therapist, that is trash. I have counseled many a people who hate themselves and have loving and amazing partners. So that is not true. But what I will tell you is if you do not work on your own self and body hatred, it's not going to go anywhere when you find someone who loves you. It'll just be a rock in your shoe where you're convinced that the other shoe, you're convinced the shoe is going to drop. And so I would start with trying to assess your own anti-fatness, your own beliefs, and also, what do you want? What is it that you want? Let's start there.


Caitie: Oof, I want to underscore that. That was so good. You don't need to completely be in love with yourself in order for someone else to love you. And when you do find someone who does love you, self-hatred is not going to go anywhere just because someone loves you. You're still going to need to work on that. If that's something that you're dealing with, it's not going to be evaporated just from someone loving you. Someone can still love you and you can still enter a loving relationship, but that self-hatred is not going to evaporate just because you've entered that relationship. Oof, that is so important. And I think the greatest fallacy when people are desperate for a relationship is that they think their self-hatred or self-esteem issues will go away. And it's not that relationships don't impact their self-esteem. They do, they 100% do. And they can improve self-esteem wounds in some ways, but it's like more of a muddy relationship than I think we think it is.


Brianna: Yeah, and I've had clients that'll say to me, I, you cannot convince me that I I'll be able to find a partner in this body. I believe that if I was in a smaller body, I would be able to find a partner. And if that is you, I can't convince you otherwise. I just can't. To me, the evidence doesn't support that. I have a lot of friends and colleagues and people on the internet who I see, who I see who are in loving, committed relationships in larger bodies. So to me, the evidence doesn't add up. Is it harder? Absolutely. But everything in a larger body is harder because the world was not designed with us in mind. And that's where the grief comes in, is this sucks, but it doesn't also have to suck and be unmanageable, that there isn't an accommodation we can find.


Caitie: Yeah, yeah. So the second listener question I got is gonna take us into this therapy versus coaching conversation. So before we dive into that, I actually would love if you don't mind breaking down the difference between therapy and coaching in, you know, just a little bite-size way if you can. Why is there a distinction between therapy and coaching? And in your opinion, why is it becoming like more of a thing nowadays that, you know, there's more coaches?


Brianna: Yeah, so as a trained mental health counselor in the state of New Jersey, I used to be, what's the word I want to use? Hmm, judgmental maybe would be the word I want to use. I would be like, ah, coaches, coaches, what do they know? Coaches, coaches are just doing what we already do. And this is actually a great lesson for body image as well. When somebody gets defensive, what are they defending? Why did it agitate me so much that people were coaching? Because I felt like it was a threat on my work, that if you're coaching, somehow I'm gonna get less clients. And what I can tell you is that there are plenty of clients, there are plenty of people who need help and support. 


My biggest distinction between coaching and counseling is that when I am counseling, I have the freedom and the ability to explore the past. And as a licensed mental health counselor, I get to explore trauma with you. I'm gonna put that out there and we'll go back to it. As a coach, I stay in the present and I think towards the future. We are not, like we can acknowledge the past, but we're not gonna spend too much time there. I wanna help you meet your goals right now here today. And what are the hurdles that we're experiencing? How can I help you meet those manageable and attainable goals? I will say as a therapist, I actually kind of go into that coaching realm. As a coach, I do not go into the therapy realm. And my reasoning for that is because being a provider, I wanna make sure that I am the most trauma informed provider that I can be. And what I will tell you is I've done far more harm as a therapist than I ever have done as a coach because, just because you're allowed to explore trauma with somebody doesn't mean you should. I wanna give a real quick example. 


I have a couple of communities and one of my community calls is I do a hot seat coaching. So somebody from my body griever's community comes in and I'll live hot seat coach them in front of my providers. And then my providers get to kind of learn my skillset. When I start the call, I tell my body griever, I'm like whatever it is, I want you to distress scale it. So on a scale of one to 10, whatever it is that you bring up that you wanna talk about, it needs to be lower than a five. Because I don't want you to pick something that's a 10 that now we have to unpack in front of a room full of people. Most times, we're not gonna deal with anything that's higher than a 10. Because if we can do it at the five, why not? Why are we gonna go for the most agitated thing? And so I did this call with somebody and she brought up feeling shame around a topic. And I made the intentional choice not to explore the shame, that instead of how can we create space around the shame. And one of my providers on the call was like, why didn't you just go right for it? Why didn't you just dive in? And I said, because I didn't need to. I said, I know this client and I know that this is a familiar shame. And so why am I going to agitate a wound that I already know is sore when what she wants to do is feel relief? That there are other things that we can do to help create space that don't require us to deep dive into trauma. And it was so unheard of. 


And I think that my, how I learned about coaching really was just my own trial and error and watching other people do what I wanted to do. Being a therapist, I am bound by state by law, by ethical considerations. And so it's a lot stricter. I also, you need to have a license and to be governed under the licensing board. With coaching, that's kind of like free reign. Anybody can say that they're a coach. What I can tell you is that my ability and my skills don't change whether I'm wearing my therapy hat or my coaching hat. That I'm still a talented clinician. I just know what bounds I'm not gonna go beyond because I don't wanna activate my clients because I don't wanna cause them trauma. There are times where I'm in a coaching setting where a client brings up trauma and I'm like, hey, I can acknowledge this for you, but I can't explore this with you. That is out of my realm. That is out of my bounds. I would say if you're somebody who's like, I don't know if I need coaching or counseling, I would say start with either. I would say it really comes down to figuring out which like, is there a provider that you like? What we know about coaching and counseling is that success, I think it's like 70% of the success of your experience with a provider comes down to whether or not you have an alliance with the coach or the therapist. That 70% of it is gonna come down to do I feel like I jive with this person? Do I feel like this person can teach me something? I, having been a therapist, knew I needed somebody who could hold me to task. I needed somebody who was going to be able to hold me to task on certain topics that I would otherwise shy away from. 


But let's take dating, for example. My therapist can go into the trauma with me, but hasn't dated in years. It was so, it was so out of her area of expertise. So that's why I hired a coach. That's why I hired Lily, because I was like, I need somebody who, this is their focus. That she's gonna help me create immediate goals in the current, not the future, in the current present, in the current future. No, she's gonna help me make goals right now so that I can start moving towards it. And then as stuff comes up and I'm like, wow, my trauma is being activated that's when I go back to therapy and be like, let's process this. Or, you know, like we do in Jersey, we just shove it down and we're like, it's fine. It's there. And it starts to bubble up and we push it back down. Just put some coffee on it.


Caitie: Yeah, that's the Jersey style. Yeah, I think a good distinction there is that a therapist is like a regulated title. They've gone to school for therapy. They have like the therapy credential, they sat for that board exam, did those clinical hours. But that doesn't necessarily mean that they're the right fit for you when it comes to resolving the challenge that you're trying to resolve. If you are looking to go back and open up a childhood wound and open up, you know, a really complex, maybe relationship dynamic with a parent or something like that. Going to therapy is a really good choice. And you might still talk about your parents with a coach. You might still talk about your childhood with a coach. You're just not gonna like go in and do this like deeper excavating, I guess is kind of what you're communicating. So I'm curious, can you just give a quick example of what it looks like to sort of excavate and dig into a trauma versus with a coach? Because I do nutrition counseling and body image coaching, and I still do talk to my clients about their body image history, but we're not doing trauma healing. I'm curious, can you give an example of what that looks like a little bit?


Brianna: Okay, so let's say you have somebody who is really struggling with, we'll just go with dating, right? And the reason that dating is hard for them is because they feel like nobody can find them attractive in their here and now body. As a coach, I would want to understand where that came from, because I can't move forward unless I know where it came from. And then let's say it comes up that they had a parent that would all of the time tell them, you're disgusting. Like no one's ever gonna love you because of the body that you existed now. As a coach, it would be inappropriate for me to be like, let's bring dad or mom into the room. Let's process that. Let's do some gestalt therapy and try to heal that wound. That is not my role as a coach.


As a coach, what I would do is I would say, okay, so how old were you when that happened? How would current day you respond if you heard somebody say that to a seven-year-old, an eight-year-old? How would you today, not you, how would you now respond? And if there is any incongruency of like, I would rip their head off or I would yell at them, okay, so then why isn't that the same as how you're responding to what was done to you? Because a lot of times I think with our trauma, we can edit it in a way where we can remove ourselves from the situation. That it wasn't that bad, it was fine, I survived. It could have been worse. But when we put it into that context of, if current you would not sit by and ask, and be okay with that, it begs the question of why not? And what I think it does is it leads you to, okay, well, you know, that's aggressive, it's violent in nature, it's, you know, it's uncalled for. There's just no appropriate setting that would be in. I might ask, how would current you advocate for little you? I'm acknowledging the past, but I'm using it in the present. Does that make sense?


Caitie: Mm-hmm. Yeah, love it. I love it. That's such a good, such a good move. Because I also, I often talk to my clients too about this idea of, who's driving the car right now? Is it little you or is it current you? And it's like, that feels a little therapeutic-y, but it's not. We're not, yeah, we're not doing the same, let's role play with dad. Let's process that situation, you know what I'm saying? So I feel like, yeah. Yeah.


Brianna: Right, right. And it's not therapeutic. You know what I mean? Like, it's, you're trying to acknowledge, who am I talking to right now? Because if you're talking to wounded six-year-old you, then we're having two different conversations.


Caitie: Yeah. Right, right. So great. So with that, this listener question that I got is they basically brought me a really beautiful, compassionate DM. And I'm really grateful to this person about how they feel like they've just had a lot of experiences with therapists where they didn't actually really help them. It seemed like they were kind of staying in such a rigid box in terms of their scope of practice that they kind of felt like they weren't actually getting what they needed. And they want to start working with a coach now to see if maybe they can get a little bit more direct advice from someone. That is a thing. In therapy, they don't really give you a lot of advice. There's a lot of question asking in psychotherapy, more so than advice giving. And I would say coaches do give more advice, do give more suggestions, more tools for your toolbox. Often, not all the time, but often. But they don't know how, if they can trust a coach, because there are so many coaches who don't have a lot of training and certifications and they wanna know, what would you look for to trust a coach. Yeah, has anything come up for you when you hear that? I mean, there's a lot in that question. So if there's anything else you want to talk about there, that's good too.


Brianna: Yeah, so this is a hill that I will die on. I get so, so, are we ready? We're gonna tussle. I, so let's say I graduated, I think there was, let's say there was like, I don't know, let's say there was like a hundred people, I don't even think there was that many, in my graduating class, and I knew maybe 20 of them well. Of that 20, there was half of them. I'm like, you're gonna be a licensed mental health counselor and you're gonna help. I cannot imagine how you are gonna help somebody. So just because somebody has a degree, just because somebody's been educated, doesn't mean that they can help. The other hill, or the other part of this hill, is especially as therapists, we're not taught how to be business people. And so there are so many people who are, they're just set on keeping their numbers. They're like, I need to see this many clients so that I can pay my bills, that they are just, they're just, so what do you wanna talk about? Like let's, let me just check boxes and get you through. They're not actually creating treatment plans of this is what you showed up for, this is what I wanna help you do. In my coaching, and in my therapy, every time, what are our goals? What is it that you want to accomplish by the end of our time together? When we start to lose the plot, we come back to the goals. We come back to what are we working on? I think that it's easy to lose the plot when there's so many things that we're going over and that are happening. And sometimes I even lose the plot in my own therapy, right? 


Caitie: That's such a good way of saying it. I do too.


Brianna: So I just talked about this with my therapist. I went to my therapist because I was struggling with sleep because I was having really bad insomnia and CBD wasn't cutting it. My other part of the hill is that the not giving advice part and letting the client come to it themselves. That is a therapeutic modality and it's just one modality. There's a lot of times in coaching and in my counseling where I'm like, I'm going to fill in the blanks for you. I'm going to fill it in. If that feels right. And if it doesn't let me know, because otherwise we're going to spend so much time on you pontificating what, what these blanks are. Is it a hurdle for us to get to our goals of like, hey, I'm gonna throw this out there and I'll say this, I'm like, I say this to my clients, I'm from Jersey. I'm like, you can tell me to fuck off. Like you can tell me that I'm off my rocker and I'll say a statement and I call these statements of truth. And either I'm close to it or I'm not. And when I do that, it allows me to understand where you are as opposed to here's where I wanna get you to. 


So that's my hill. I'll step off and I'll say, how do you trust a provider? Well, one, I would look at how you trust anybody in your life. For me, a referral is the best way I'm going to trust somebody. If Caitie says, I have somebody that I think would be great for you, I'm going to trust that. I'm going to say, I trust Caitie. So anyone she sends my way, I'm going to believe. You might need to try out a session. It's kind of like dating. You might have to give it a go and be like, how did this feel? I signed up with my therapist. Therapists who have therapists were the worst. I can acknowledge that. And I go into trauma therapy and she's an EMDR therapist. I'm like, how many sessions do you think I need? I'm like, how long do you think I'll be healed? She was like, why don't we start with a month? I've been with her for two years now. She met me where I was at, right? She was like why don't we start with a month and go from there? We can reevaluate. So I would say it's really gonna depend on you. I wouldn't get so caught up in skillset or training because one, I think that that is just, it's another way that capitalism has come to become territorial over counseling and coaching and helping people. You know, I tell people all the time. I do the CEUs that I need to to get my degree. They're not helping me to become a better provider. I do more as a coach to better my skillset. And I would say the same for you, right? Like, you know, you did my body image bootcamp. You did that because you wanted to be able to hold conversations with your clients on body image in a tangible way. That's not taught to you in your program.


Caitie: No, no, not even a little bit, not even a little bit. There was no counseling training for dieticians, which is just unbelievable. 


Brianna: Probably like motivational interviewing with one class. One day of one class. I had a whole class on it. And at the end of it, I was like, I still don't know what it is.


Caitie: Yeah, yeah, one day of one class. I was like, literally. Yeah, I got so lucky that I majored in psych in my undergrad, so I got a little bit of like counseling training, but like other than that. Yeah, we didn't get the training and the skill set for that stuff. And I think that it speaks to, I mean, I learned so much more in my somatic breathwork training than I learned in a lot of my master's degree. I learned so much more in my yoga teacher training, to be honest, about trauma. I took a trauma-informed yoga teacher training and I am a trauma-informed provider because I've done these trauma informed yoga teacher trainings. And because I did your program and because I did all these other programs that didn't give me any fancy academic letters after my name, but gave me the capacity to hold space for people. I literally learned the definition of holding space in my somatic breath work training, not in school, which is crazy.


Brianna: Yeah. And it's such a phrase that I think we like throw around like holding space. What does it mean? And let's talk about like trauma informed. That's a buzzword. I'm not going to like it's a phrase that we throw around. Like, what does it mean to be trauma informed? As a therapist, I'm allowed to talk about all of your trauma. That doesn't mean I should. And that's the mistake that people make, that just because you prep people doesn't mean like just because you say this is a safe space does not make it a safe space. Like you're, you're asking a lot for a space, right? I've been in yoga classes where it was quote unquote trauma informed. And then the, like the providers like, I want you to hold your belly. I'm like, that is like, how do you know that's trauma? Like that was activating for me. Maybe I don't want it. There's no, there was no language of permission or, and so yeah, it's a buzzword. We, I prioritize, I want to prioritize your safety. And so just knowing that finding a new provider is a risk and that you might have a bad experience, but I trust you and I trust your instinct to make a good decision and to advocate for yourself of ask for a call, ask to connect with somebody. Do you feel like you connect with them? And if you do, it's pretty good sign that you'll probably connect with them in session.


Caitie: Advocating is so important in medical spaces and in coaching and therapeutic spaces. I've been talking about that with clients a lot lately because one of my clients was like really nervous about going to the dermatologist a couple of weeks ago for like a skin issue that she's been dealing with for a long time because she's gone to a bunch of other dermatologists and she was like, you're just going to tell me the same thing. And I was like, please walk into that space and say, here's what I've tried before. Here's what other dermatologists have told me. Here's what I don't want. Here's what I'm already working with. Here's what my dietician told me so far. I have a history of disorder eating, like all these different things. They're scary to say, I'm not gonna pretend. It's like easy to just barge into a medical setting with the full-on place and the medical, and you know. 


Brianna: It sucks. I do this before every doctor's appointment. I've been working with a GI now for a little less than a year. And I wrote out a script of what I was gonna communicate to him. This is what has happened. You cannot recommend weight loss as a solution because that is not working and I'm still in distress now today. You do your job and help me figure it out. And my provider has been great, has not brought up weight loss or like, anything of the like and believes me. And I said to somebody, I was like, it's sad that that feels like a surprise. Like, that when I tell a provider something and they believe me and I don't have to argue them, that's not the care I'm expecting to get. So that again, it is harder. But by advocating for what I need, I have been able to procure much better medical care for myself. And it sucks. And I'm going to the doctor and I'm getting answers and I'm experiencing relief. And that's what we want for you, is we want you to experience that.


Caitie: Yeah, yeah, when something's hard, when something's uncomfortable, we need to take a closer look at it and ask, is this for my benefit? Ultimately, is this me honoring my intuition in a way that feels uncomfortable now that's ultimately going to serve me in the long term? And it kind of reminds me a little bit of what you were saying about dating earlier, how it feels like a pain in the ass to be asking all these different questions to all these different people and keeping... dating feels like juggling sometimes when you're like on the app in the initial stage and it's like you got five people there and you're just like, ah, this again, and we're starting over and it's the kind of hard that if you do it with intention and don't burn yourself out. Of course, don't burn yourself out advocating for yourself in medical spaces either. It's worth it. It's worth it. And so I think just to kind of bring it back to this question, you know, a few of the things that are important to keep in mind when you're trying to figure out if it's, if you can trust a coach because coaching is unregulated, don't just look at the credentials of the person. Right. Because I think the point Bri and I were kind of making in our back and forth is like, you never really know what someone's gonna get from their certification or training programs. I just got the most unexpected gifts in the most random programs. And so I don't think that my list of certifications describes me as well as I describe me, and my work presents itself for me. Yeah. Right.


Brianna: Our lived experience qualifies us way more than our degrees ever will because I've experienced what I'm teaching, I know exactly how you feel. Maybe I don't know exactly how you feel, but I know something similar. And I don't believe that I'm I might be an expert, but when you're in the room, you're the expert. I am just there to help guide. I'm not looking to find answers. And no, I'm not there to give you answers. We're there to find them together. I was going to say too quickly, Caitie, that it's a little bit like intuitive eating in the beginning, where it feels awkward and uncomfortable. And it's like, am I doing this right? And I'm not sure. And then eventually it just becomes easier. That in the beginning, when you are trying to advocate for yourself for the doctors, when you're trying to date, like it's hard in the beginning. It gets easier. It gets easier with time.


Caitie: Yeah. I think the first time I advocated for myself was with my therapist, actually, in terms of what I needed. I needed to reduce sessions. And a lot of my clients face that with me too. And they get to a point where I think that they technically could continue with more support. So I quite frankly don't say anything because I want to invite them to come to the conclusion on their own. I've seen a lot of my clients shaking in their boots saying,should we go down to ever other week? And I'm like, yes, let's do it. Like, let's go. But it's hard when you first, when you first present that when you advocate for yourself in that way, for the first time, it feels awkward. It feels scary. It feels like it's about feelings. It feels like it's about the other person. It feels like it's protecting the other person. I think most of us don't feel protective over our doctors, but in like a therapeutic setting, I think a lot of us do feel this interpersonal relationship that's strong. And so it can be difficult and doesn't mean it's wrong. It's like literally the most important thing you can do is advocate for your needs. And if the provider doesn't necessarily agree with what you desire for yourself, they're gonna say that and they're gonna facilitate a good conversation about it, not to take away your agency, but to make sure that it's a good informed choice with all the information that you need. And that point of the relationship actually reminds me of another question that I did get, which was can coaches be friends with their coachees? And that is, you know, that's a, that's like a good question, I think, for you to answer, cause I have an opinion about this and I'm curious what yours is.


Brianna: So the rule follower in me says, absolutely not. You cannot have a duplicitous relationship. That just hasn't been my experience. I think it really depends on each individual person. You know, I like in that setting, right? Like, so essentially Caitie, like you and I would not be able to be friends because you, you know, I coached you. And so I think that it sort of just removes humanity from it to say hard and fast rules. I will say to the coach, I will always hold the person with power to a higher standard that I will anyone else in that relationship. I think it's just not that simple. That's what I will say. I think that there's not a simple answer.


Caitie: Yeah. I like that. I think it's not a yes, no question, kind of just like most things are in a yes, no question. And I think that it can be yes with boundaries in place. It can be yes with really good communication. When I first started doing group coaching programs, I had a few of my friends that wanted to join and they saw the way I had recovered from my eating disorder and from body image issues. And they were like, I just want to learn from you. And so I did let a few of my friends come in my group coaching programs and it, it worked. I never had a situation where it didn't work, but only because I wrote a separate contract for them, wherein there was a really specific way in which our relationship needed to work. And if they were going to ask me questions about the group coaching program, they needed to do so in these certain messaging modalities. And they needed to come to the sessions and they needed to not take advantage of our personal relationship and being like, I'm late, not coming. Like, it was really important to me that there was that equal exchange there. And yeah, I've also seen it go south though, some of my friends who are friends with their coachees and it gets blurry when there's just not communication, but it's, it's sort of like any relationship and I really appreciate the fact that I can consider you a friend and also a coach and that I can pay you to work with me in a professional way. And I can also get coffee with you in a personal way. That is special. And I wouldn't trade that. I wouldn't trade that for anything. I wouldn't, I I'm really thankful for that. And I want to do more writing and reflection on this myself, this question, um, because I think that also I've got clients that are coming on my retreat that have been long-term clients of mine that are going to get to know me in a more personal way. And I'm like, well, you might become my friends. They might become friends of mine. And what am I supposed to do? Like turn off a friendship switch? Like we don't have to like go have sleepovers, but like we can have a friendlier relationship.


Brianna: I've had clients who became friends, like we were invited to a wedding. And so, you know, like, you know, we shared a room or we've had multiple, you know, different duplicitous relationships. And I actually share this and it's kind of taboo, but I am friends with my last therapist. One of my last therapists. She started as my therapist. And then we had a dual relationship where she actually became my supervisor. So we had to stop our therapeutic relationship. And through that, we became colleagues. And so now we will get together once a year and we'll have coffee. And she's always interested in my dating life and she's like, so what's going on? I'm like, you know, but I would consider her my friend and my colleague and she was my therapist. And any traditional therapist would say that's inappropriate. And it works for us, it works for me. I know exactly what our relationship is. She's not somebody I'm gonna call and be like, I had a horrible day, let me talk to you about, that's not the relationship we have. And I would say the clients that have become friends with me, it's the same. There's an honor to the friendship. I had a client turned friend, and then she reached out and was like, hey, I'm having a really bad body image week, can I book a session with you? Honors the coaching commitment that she's not going to expect me to do free labor for her. And I appreciate that so much. I honor that. And it's the same thing. I would do that with my friends as well. So yeah, not a hard and fast. If that's a flag for you, then we might not be a good coaching client. Like, couple, that's fine. I'm not here for everybody and that's okay.


Caitie: Yeah, that's really important too. I mean, I thought about that as well when I was like, what if like clients don't like that I'm like becoming more friendly with some of my other clients or whatever? Like what if that's a dynamic they don't like? I'm like, oh wait, maybe I'm just not the right coach for that. Like maybe they can just, yeah.


Brianna: Yeah. And there are, I have friends that are like, I don't want any dual relationship with my clients. I want it completely separate. And I'll say this too. I did a, before I did body image with Bri, I did community mental health counseling and I did in home and it just changed my entire perspective because when you're sitting on a client's bed, doing counseling with them, you are taken completely out of this. You are a blank slate and you don't know it. I'm sitting on your, I'm using your bathroom. It changes the relationship tenfold. And there's still a way to do it with boundaries. But yeah, I think it's gonna be personal and it's going to be. If you are the friend in the relationship, not the counselor or the coach, just be mindful of is there expectation or burden that you feel that that person is putting on you. I know that the friendships and the relationship I have, it's very equal. It's like, we know exactly what this friendship is, we know exactly what the expectation is, and it's not them taking care of me, me taking care of them. So I hope that's helpful.


Caitie: Yeah, that is helpful. And I think another sort of positive outcome from the relationship becoming more personal is also that the client then has evidence that you're a real functioning person in the world, a real healed functioning person in the world, right? I remember having a therapist when I was younger who I was like, I wonder if she's recovered from her eating disorder. And I was like, I wonder if she has a boyfriend. I wonder if...I wonder like does she take care of herself in the way that she's telling me to take care of myself. And I think that there's something really positive about knowing some personal aspects of your coach's life because then you get this like sort of blueprint for oh it is possible for me. Just their existence. Not in that you need to emulate their existence and of course there's boundaries and it very clearly can come become a sticky territory if you're trying to emulate your coaches life and can you be inspired by the way they're living in the everyday world? Can you be inspired by the way they ordered the coffee for you guys? Can you be inspired by the way, I don't know, how do I always manage to say coffee? Like 12 times every episode. Are you inspired by what you know about their dating life or their relationship or their marriage or their other friendships? I think that that is, there's something to that that I wish I had when I was a little bit younger.


Brianna: I also think that we need to just take consideration from the lens at which therapy and counseling has been taught. So I will give you an example. Everybody knows that the father of psychology is Sigmund Freud, who if you know Freud, you're a little weirdo, right? Like do you want to sleep with your mother and that like, you know, all women, I don't know, like there's just a lot of messed up stuff. I had a friend who told me from one of the tropes of Sigmund Freud's counseling, is that you should be a blank slate and that you shouldn't talk. And what I found out is that Freud had jaw cancer, which made speaking difficult for him, which is why he didn't talk a lot in sessions. How much of our culture have we, how much of our counseling culture have we based on assumption or from a whitewashed perspective of this is how it should be, rather than this is what's best for the client. I don't know if we'll ever know. I really don't. I think we can make promises and intentions to do right by our clients. And I will always think if I'm disclosing something, if I'm sharing something, if a client and I are transitioning our relationship. Is this benefiting them? Is it benefiting me? Like what is the intention behind it? What is the intention? And usually for me, there's a mutually exclusive, there's like a common thing that it's like, hey, we actually have this same thing in common. We have this wedding we're going to. We have, you know, you have a skillset that now I need to hire you. Like I have a lot of clients who are now part of my team, right, that now work for me in some capacity. And we can hold that. We always talk about it. We're like, hey, how do we feel about this duplicitous relationship? And as long as there's a conversation and an acknowledgement, I think it's fair game.


Caitie: Yeah, yeah, trust your gut and trust the way something makes you feel in your body. Ask questions. And I think as providers, always centering the client and what's going to help them and what's serving them versus what's serving your ego, right? It's like the coaching world has a lot of ego in it. 


Brianna: So much ego.


Caitie: And so it's like, yeah, not everyone who shares things about themselves is egoic. Took me a long time to figure that one out, dude. But I was like, wait, I can share things about myself. It doesn't mean I have a massive ego. But it does come from that place sometimes. And it is really important to make sure ultimately disclosure is serving the client, friendship is serving the client. And on the client end, it is important to make sure that you just keep trusting how you feel and just voice how you feel, bring it into the room, bring it into the space, you get to advocate for yourself the entire time and these relationships were, I think, meant to be nuanced, like all other relationships and you're right. I mean, the source of therapy was a very exclusive one, and therapy's been made so exclusive by academia, by capitalism, by academic institutions that have all these rules and regulations and all these things about who gets to be a therapist, who doesn't get to be a therapist, and it's very expensive and inaccessible. And so thank God we have coaches and more people.


Brianna: Mic drop, mic drop.


Caitie: Now I have access to healing and I guess we'll wrap up there. I mean, thank you so much for your time, Brianna. I'm going to have to have you on for another show where we talk about reading and we talk about the fact that you bought a house and there's just so many things that I want to celebrate about this chapter of your life. I'm really so grateful that we're connected. Please follow Bri @bodyimagewithbri. Is there anything else you want to shout out for where people can find you?


Brianna: Best place to hang out with me is on my Instagram, @bodyimagewithbri. I also have a podcast, The Body Grievers Club. It's on most streaming platforms. Me and my co-coach, Jana, we just have a good time. We laugh, we answer tough questions. We're both in fat bodies and we just love giving you the perspective from our view. But Caitie, thank you so much for having me on again. This was such an honor.


Caitie: Thank you, thank you. All right, we're gonna close with a nice deep breath. So wherever you're tuning in from, just take a moment to recenter back into your body with a nice deep inhale and a full complete exhale. Let it go.


If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a five star rating on Spotify or on Apple or wherever you get your podcasts and you can leave ratings. I don't really know. But ratings really helped me out and sharing this episode with someone else will really help someone else out. So if anything in this episode inspired you or resonated with you, please give it a share. I will be back here next week. 


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