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Empowering Compassionate Leaders: A Journey Into Somatic Coaching – Interview With Tana J Cohen

In today's insightful conversation, we're thrilled to introduce Tana J Cohen, a beacon of hope and transformation in the realm of somatic coaching. Tana's journey from navigating the turbulent waters of complex trauma, anxiety, and burnout to becoming a guiding light for others is nothing short of inspiring. 


With a deep commitment to fostering positive social change and enhancing mental and physical wellbeing, Tana's approach to healing is rooted in the profound connection between the body and mind. As we delve into this interview, Tana shares her personal revelations that led her to the path of somatic coaching and how her experiences have shaped a unique approach to supporting compassionate entrepreneurs and professionals. 


Join us as Tana opens up about the power of somatic healing and how she tailors her support to meet the needs of those driven to make a difference. 


Prepare to be inspired by Tana's wisdom, resilience, and the compassionate world she envisions through the lens of somatic coaching.


Tana J Cohen, Somatic Coach & Embodied Mindfulness Mentor


Can you share the moment that led you to realise the connection between your personal experiences and the path towards somatic coaching?


It’s quite an interesting story. I always knew I had a lot to offer others from my own journey of healing from complex trauma. My educational and professional pursuits were all aimed at fostering positive social change and improving mental and physical wellbeing. Despite this, neither my personal experiences nor the considerable amount I spent on mindset coaches and therapists could fully free me from the grip of persistent low self-esteem and anxiety. I felt there was a crucial piece missing. How could I possibly support others in enhancing their life experiences if I was still struggling, finding myself in tears and seeking comfort in the safety of my bed?


Then, one day, I came across an advert from The Somatic School. The introductory session offered a powerful somatic experiment that resonated deeply with me, prompting me to sign up for their training. As I began my journey as a Somatic Coach, I noticed significant shifts within myself, even as a student. Later, working with a Trauma-Informed Somatic Coach and experiencing the effectiveness of this approach firsthand completed the puzzle for me. My enthusiasm for somatic coaching soared, not just because of my extensive background in the therapeutic field, but because of the profound personal transformation it facilitated for me.


Now, in my coaching practice, I draw upon my wealth of experience, seeing it as a treasure chest of tools and insights. Understanding the interplay between our central nervous system and the way the body holds onto trauma has been a game-changer, enabling profound shifts for my clients that are so compelling, we both at times get moved to tears.


Wow, that’s powerful. Tell me, how did your own journey of healing from anxiety, burnout, and Complex Trauma shape your approach to helping others?


When you've experienced the depths of despair firsthand, you develop a profound appreciation for the things that truly help in the recovery process. The trauma of losing my brother at a young age, facing severe bullying due to my weight (food became my coping mechanism), and relocating from Spain to the UK with my grieving mother had a profound impact on me. Although therapy, counselling, transformational courses, and mindset coaching provided some relief, at times they also compounded my struggles, leading me to harsh self-judgement for not being further along in my healing journey. It’s no wonder we suffer. We desperately want to feel a certain way while the body has no first-hand experience of feeling it, and more importantly, sustaining it.


It was only when I gained a deeper understanding of Polyvagal Theory and engaged in Somatic Practices that I began to find the peace and stability I had been longing for. Through trial and error, I discovered what worked and what didn't, learning that the principles of somatic coaching could facilitate not just recovery, but also a more graceful navigation through life's challenges, reducing stress and emotional turmoil.


It sounds like you’ve really come out the other side. I’m curious. Your work involves supporting compassionate entrepreneurs and professionals. Why do you feel this particular group is drawn to your approach, and how do you tailor your support to meet their needs?


It’s just so debilitating to be in that place, especially when you’re not someone that can happily take a meaningless office job to pay the bills.


Being a compassionate leader and service-centred professional takes courage, bravery and a heap of resilience. Not just to show up as your best self, but to navigate the complexities of being someone that is creating positive change amidst sustaining an enriching personal life.


It’s not a job for us. It’s who we are. So, when professionals like us are going through a hard time, the mental exhaustion of keeping the ship afloat can feel pretty overwhelming.


The nature of what we do also leads to increased stress and mental exhaustion because it’s not something we can easily switch off from the way one might be able to with work they don’t deeply care about.


Understanding their growth and service-centred mindset, and what comes with it, while knowing the power that’s generated through Somatic Coaching, has made me skilled at supporting teams and individuals in this sphere.


Creating internal and external boundaries with ease, dispersing emotional blocks, and finding the resources within to move forward with clarity and a sense of calm is vital to the evolution of the compassion leaders' projects, purpose and passion. In business, you’re wearing many hats and spinning many plates. The Somatic Coaching space is one of rest and gentility. A place to process and create, free of expectations or the need to show up a certain way.


Personal experience plays a significant role in your practice. How do you maintain boundaries while drawing from your own life in your professional work?


In my practice, I focus on empowering individuals to access their internal resources, which become more readily available over time. I approach my clients as equals, not as an expert standing above them, which fosters a comfortable and trusting environment. 


The effectiveness of any therapeutic relationship is greatly enhanced by trust, and my openness and relatability contribute to this. While maintaining professional boundaries, I share personal experiences when it serves the client's best interests, enhancing the therapeutic process and encouraging authenticity and progress.


If you’re feeling a sense of insecurity or self-restraint while in session, your Soma is not in the prime state for healing to occur, which is one of safety and self-expression.


A client once told me that she used to feel on edge with her therapist because they never gave anything personal away, and my transparency and honesty supported her process greatly. It even helped her realise that she could be more of herself in her professional life, which has enabled her to move her business to the next level.


I've always believed in transparency; my life's journey is an open book, intended to empower and inspire. Once, I gazed at others' successes, feeling such stability was beyond my grasp. Now, the tables have turned, and it's my achievements that others look up to. It's important to me to convey that this level of success is accessible to everyone, and being open about the path I took to get here is integral to that message.


That’s impactful! Your journey and work advocates for a more compassionate world, which is why it’s a pleasure having you on the team of executive contributors here at Brainz. How do you envision your role and the role of somatic coaching in achieving this vision?


It’s pretty easy. One's true self is compassionate by nature. It’s just misguidance, an absence of understanding, or unprocessed pain that has one feel otherwise. Through Somatic Practices, the internal fight naturally subsides and self-compassion and curiosity emerge.


All of a sudden, the self-criticism or non-stop thoughts are no longer parts of oneself to fight against. They become known for what they are - mechanisms of protection. Compassion emerges as a natural result of this work, and clarity, energy and joy only gain more traction from that point onwards.


To top it all off there’s the fact that we, as humans, are naturally co-regulators. That’s why our heartbeat syncs with our partner when we cuddle on the sofa, for example. The more versed my clients become in accessing their true sense of self and contentment, the more their communities, work teams and loved ones will benefit as a result. The ripple effect is endless.


I can tell you love what you do. For someone considering somatic coaching, what advice would you offer based on your experiences and successes?


If you feel a connection with a practitioner and feel safe in their presence, I encourage you to embrace the opportunity. Somatic coaching has been a transformative experience for me and my clients, providing a foundation for personal and professional growth. 


The process respects each individual's boundaries and readiness, offering a calming and empowering experience. Look for a trauma-informed coach with a proven track record to ensure your investment in time and energy is well placed.


Finally, what would you suggest for those wanting to explore working with you?


If my approach resonates with you, I'm delighted. Many of the people that arrive at this work have tried it all, and found that nothing created the same level of shifts, or in as little time. 


My website offers a variety of resources to begin your journey, including the opportunity for a complimentary Curiosity Call. 


If we connect well and you qualify for my 1-1 Somatic Serenity Coaching Journey, I would be honoured to guide you through your unique process of healing, growth, and transformation.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTubeand visit my website for more info!

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