Coach Interview Series: Andrea M. Hall

by Brandon

Andrea M. Hall

Equine Gestalt Coach

Our main objective here at the National Coach Academy is to enable aspiring coaches to reach their full professional potential. One of the most effective ways to educate students about the world of coaching is by offering them a window into the world of real, practicing coaches and showing them all the different ways coaches make a difference in the lives of their clients.

We hope today’s interview adds another insightful glimpse into the dynamic world of coaching.

Today we are interviewing Andrea M. Hall. Andrea is an Equine Gestalt Coach based in Eaton, Colorado. She hosts a podcast called OUT~LAW and is the author of Touched by a Horse: Equine Coaching Stories.

NCA: Can you describe your coaching practice and the kinds of clients you typically work with?

Andrea: I am a Gestaltist. I do personal and emotional work co-actively with my horses. I help heal the unfinished business from someone’s past traumas.

Gestalt is a German word that means “wholeness.” We hear what’s going on in the present moment, the horses and I, and then figure out what happened in the past. That may be something recent or it may be as far back as some sort of childhood trauma.

I believe that we all have trauma. It’s just a matter of how it affects us. You and I could experience the same event and it would transfer to each of us differently depending on our age, our life experiences, the filter we see through — things of that nature. Something as little as somebody telling you that you’re fat and ugly. If it came from somebody with authority and depending on your age of development, you could easily suck that in and believe that whereas somebody who is 15 or 17 and hears that same thing would go, “Yeah, whatever. You mean nothing to me.” and move on.

You don’t have to necessarily come from an abusive, drunk, divorced family in order to have trauma. I came from a so-called “normal” family: we went to church and I was raised by parents who weren’t alcoholics. They weren’t divorced or anything of that nature and I got a boatload of trauma and things to work on! [laughing]

I’m also a firm believer that I don’t hold the answers. My job is merely to hold a mirror so that you can see the reflection within and figure out the answers for yourself. I get to ask questions in order for you to figure out what those answers are. There’s a time and a place that I may offer some sort of advice, however, I always ask for my client’s permission. Then I say, “How does that fit?,” or “How does that feel?” because it may not.

NCA: In working with your clients, what would you say is the most rewarding part of that process and on the flip side of that, what is the most challenging aspect of the work that you do?

Andrea: The most rewarding is when a client has that “A ha” moment. When the client figures it out and is able to close that chapter or that door and is able to respond in the future to whatever is happening versus reacting. They get the opportunity to leave that on the sand of my barn. When they walk away, they look like they’ve had a facelift or have lost 150 pounds because they’ve been dragging this through their life. It may be something that they’ve carried for a very long time and they may or may not have even known where it came from.

With the Gestalt work, they’re able to ultimately figure that out and go, “Wow. I no longer have to be reactive when my husband gets up from the table fast” or “We get into an argument and he says ‘I’m leaving.’ I no longer have to fear that he’s going to go file for divorce.” Or “I don’t have to fear that he’s going to hit me.” Or “I don’t have to fear that I’m never going to be somebody because my teacher from high school told me I was never going to be anybody,” or whatever that past is that’s still continuing to haunt them now in the present moment.

I think the most challenging is probably getting people to understand what I do and that it’s beneficial for everybody. So many people go, “I don’t need that.” I’m a firm believer that everybody needs a coach. I have a coach and sometimes I have specific coaches for specific things just because we have blinders on and we’re not able to get out of our own way most times.

There are some people that they think their life is grand and everything is going great. But for the most part, I don’t think I ever truly met anybody that has said they have everything in their life working perfectly well.

You don’t have to necessarily have been beaten, battered, and abused in order to have a coach. Where are you and where do you want to go? So many times I think people get stuck in “It’s okay and I’m good.” What happened to wanting great?

How I evaluate that is imagining four tires on a vehicle. Typically, not all four of those tires are filled at the same level. If they’re doing really good in their business life and they’re knocking it out of the park, they have the career of their dreams, they’re making as much money as they want. Where are they in their personal life? Where are they in their spiritual life? Where are they in their physical life? Not all three of those tires typically are filled equally at the same time going down the road. Typically we’re wobbling. A lot of times people are wobbling at 90 miles an hour heading straight for the ditch and their hair is on fire, but “everything’s fine.”

It’s getting people to realize that you don’t have to necessarily have been beaten, battered, and abused in order to have a coach. Where are you and where do you want to go? So many times I think people get stuck in “It’s okay and I’m good.” What happened to wanting great?

We get okay with the status quo and it’s comfortable. Change can be unpredictable and is typically not comfortable. For example, imagine somebody who’s in a battered relationship. Yes, their self-esteem may be a train wreck, however, they didn’t start off being smacked around right away. It was a slow process until you’re comfortable. There’s the fear of the unknown. The fear of “How am I going to pay my bills? What are people going to think of me? Oh my God, how did I not see the signs? I’m not good enough. No one’s going to love me.” All of that fear is greater than the fear of the constant which is “He’s going to come home. He’s going to drink his six pack of beer. He’s going to get mad and then smack me around.” To get to the other side of what is possible is scary. Until the fear of what’s comfortable is greater than the fear of the unknown, they’re going to stay.

Another challenge is that some people say coaching is a luxury. “I need to eat. I’m not going to spend the money on a coach because I need to pay bills.” However, people always have money for what they want. All you have to do is jot down what they do in 24 hours. “Oh, I go to Starbucks in the morning and then I eat there and then I eat out for lunch.” Or “Every Friday we go out after work for beers and cocktails and we eat out three times a week as a family.” Just add that up and say, “Okay, now I’m going to devote that to myself, whether that’s a gym membership or learning how to play the piano, which is something I’ve always wanted to do.” Whatever it is for you.

Time and money are probably the two biggest things that people want to use as an excuse to get out of something. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Nobody is blessed with more or less. How are you going to choose to use that 24 hours?

NCA: What is your advice that you would give to somebody who is just starting out in their coaching career?

Andrea: Whether it’s a coach or any profession, I am a firm believer that you need to follow your heart’s desire. Don’t think you’re going into this career because all of a sudden you’re going to be rich. That’s been my experience with people who think they want to be a doctor or a lawyer. When people approach me with “I want to go law school. I want to be a lawyer,” the first thing I say to them is “Why? Why do you want to do that?” Because at the end of the day, your Why is what’s going to keep you going when everybody else is a naysayer and you’ve reached another obstacle in the road. If the first obstacle fires and you go, “Oh crap. Now, what?” and you don’t have that Why, that burning passion and desire, it’s going to stop you dead in your tracks.

If you look at all the things that tried to stop me from becoming a coach, if I didn’t have that passion, drive, and desire, I would’ve been stopped.

When I left my law career, I got to a place where the kill for me was no longer fun. Why I was getting out of bed in the morning wasn’t there. That’s when I went searching for what was the next thing I was going to do. I was on a soul-searching journey for three years until I had the opportunity to experience the horses. I have always had a passion and desire to be with horses and I didn’t know why other than the fact that I was just attracted to them. Then I did this work with horses and I went, “This is the ticket.”

My world has completely disappeared. The heart palpitations have gone away. I’m relaxed. I’m grounded. I’m centered. I’m peaceful. And I can still help people. It’s just in a different arena and I can do it with horses.

My passion of helping people fighting for the underdog has still not gone away. I just now have a different venue and a different clientele. I encourage people to follow their heart.

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