Interview with Rachel Grant
I want to put a stop to survivors of abuse feeling broken, unfixable and absolutely frustrated because it seems nothing they do is helping. Honestly, it really pisses me off when survivors are not able to have the lives and relationships they deserve. Whenever I hear stories of survivors giving up, falling deeper and deeper into despair, or worse, being further traumatized by people who are supposed to help, I get so upset. It also reminds me of my past and how excruciating life was for twenty plus years.
I was definitely convinced that there was no way out of the pain, constant instability, and feeling of worthlessness. It sucked, but I found a way out and I would love to support you in doing that as well. Check out my website
Hi Rachel, could you please introduce your company, Rachel Grant Coaching, and what led to your founding your own counseling and coaching company? What did you feel was missing in traditional sexual abuse recovery treatment?
Hi my name's Rachel Grant and I work with survivors of childhood sexual abuse who are beyond sick and tired of feeling broken and unfixable and burdened by the past and I help them break free from the pain of the past and finally move on with their lives.
Now I didn't intend to find my way here, I really had intentions of being a teacher and an educator, but along the way my own healing journey after going to counseling and groups and doing various workbooks and studies, I found that over and over again I was becoming frustrated because no one seemed to be answering what I thought was the most critical question: what do I actually do to heal from sexual abuse. When I was 10 years old my grandfather sexually abused me and while my parents were very helpful and supportive in that and getting him out of our home, they really didn't know how to provide me with the care and the support afterwards. And so I spent most of my life all the way up until my 20s struggling with all of the effects of abuse and trauma feeling like I was worthless unlovable, having a very difficult time in relationships and connecting with anyone. I had been in a 10-year relationship that was extremely abusive and when we were divorcing. I was in my new apartment with just a lamp and a sleeping bag and I had one of those aha moments a voice just loud and clear came through and I heard, you know Rachel you've got to get your shit together like right now or you are gonna spend the rest of your life just feeling miserable and that's what launched me into my journey of trying to heal and help others.
What was your process behind writing your book, "Beyond Surviving: The Final Stage in Recovery from Sexual Abuse?" Was this a challenging process for your own mental and emotional health, or was it healing?
Following this aha moment I became obsessed with trying to answer this question of how do we make sure that trauma is not a lifelong sentence. And how do I heal from sexual abuse. So I began reading everything that I could, studying, talking to experts, I did my master's in counseling psychology and I studied neuroscience and that's when I discovered that I could draw on my background in education and everything that I was learning about healing and combine that to create really simple doable strategies that would guarantee that I would heal from trauma and not spend the rest of my life in recovery. As I was making these discoveries I was capturing them on a blog and sharing those out with people to see how they were responding and then eventually I realized I have to put all this together and that's what set me on course to write the Beyond Surviving Guidebook the final stage in recovery from sexual abuse. Yes Is anyone who's taken you know on writing a book will know, man, you start out kind of like oh this will be easy we'll just put these things together and off we go, but there is a lot more to it and I'm so thankful that I had great support from friends and colleagues who guided me along the way in that journey.
What I love about the beyond surviving guidebook is that it was ultimately very healing for me. Everything that's in that book is there first and foremost because it's something that actually helped me and made a difference in my own journey, and I love hearing from people who have worked through the guidebook on their own or certainly with my clients when we use that as a part of the program when we work together. You know the impact that these lessons are having on their lives and their healing journey. So while it was a mountain to climb I'm very thankful for that I made it up that one.
What are some of the main walls that people who have experienced sexual abuse build around themselves? How does your coaching program, Beyond Surviving, approach the long-held trauma of sexual abuse in a new way?
One day I was having a conversation with a colleague about a program that I was imagining and I was really stumped as to what to call it, I knew that it was going to be about healing from sexual abuse and trauma, and so by way of that I was sharing a little bit about my journey of healing with him and he says to me you know Rachel, I just have to say I think you're so strong you've survived so much you've made it through so much. I'm sure you'll figure it out, but it's just really amazing to see that you're such a survivor, and that day for whatever reason that did not feel like a compliment anymore they did not feel good, and I kind of lost my shit on this guy, you know what, I don't want to just survive my life, there has to be more to it, and I really think there has to be something beyond surviving, and then there it was the like. That's what it's all about, and when I talk with people about why they're beyond surviving program it's different, I really think it comes down to two things. First, it is about healing the past, but we are only going to use the past in so much as it informs what is happening in the present. And so we're not going to do a whole delving into everything that ever happened in the history and the experiences we're going to really focus on what's happening right now, yes, as a result of past trauma, but most importantly what are we going to do about it and that's why the application of coaching is so important it brings in those skills and those tools and those strategies, and the second part of beyond surviving is about learning life skills and tools, relationship skills and tools that we missed because we were in the midst of trauma and weren't able to develop those, and as a result of that we're really able to address some of the key things that survivors of abuse struggle with, right? having a hard time setting boundaries, pushing people away, being afraid of intimacy and communication.
What are some of the first steps your clients take to understanding their own struggles with relationships, emotional wellbeing, and triggers from past sexual abuse? How long does it usually take clients to make their first benchmarks in the healing process?
One of the biggest things that made a difference for me in my own healing was when I began to think of trauma as an injury to the brain and the nervous system. And so I decided to approach healing from that perspective and out of that grew the beyond surviving curriculum. And sometimes people are surprised to hear that I have a very specific curriculum and we go in a specific order. But what I found in the past a lot you know since 2007 working with men and women who've experienced trauma is that there is a little bit of an order of operations, and I've really committed a lot of my time and attention to figuring out what we need to do when, so one of the very first places that we start in the beyond surviving program is a boot camp for the brain. It's all about building those solid skills and tools that help us lay a foundation for healing. Once we know that we can regulate our nervous system we can interrupt a triggered response, how to take charge of our brain again. From there we can then build and move on to what's next, and so we take on tackling you know we tackle shame, communication Strategies, emotional wellness, relationships skills, what it means to really be confident and comfortable in our own skin. And people are often surprised as well and how quickly change happens, the beyond surviving program is an eight-month program if you're working with me one on one and one of my clients who start out saying I never want to be in a relationship again is now married and has his first child.
Another one of my clients who thought you know I have this business but I'm just not good enough I'm not smart enough there's nothing I can do to get that going. Actually launched her business while we were still working together and I think that's one of the biggest messages that I try to convey is that not only is this not a life sentence. It doesn't take your life to heal.
What's next for your work with Rachel Grant Coaching? What are the main programs, projects, and curriculum you will be focusing on in 2019?
I'm feeling really good about the future, you know there's been a huge catalyst this past year around the me too movement and that's awesome. It's getting a lot done. There's also some things that are being missed there and more work to do, but it has people talking about sexual abuse and trauma and assault in a way that I don't think we've seen before and from that it's really inspiring me to think about how I can expand and branch out and do some new things in the beyond surviving world, so in 2019 I'll be launching a graduate program a group graduate program. I'm continuing to partner with nonprofits to share with them my 28 day boot camp for the brain program which is also a program that's available to individuals on a sliding scale.
I'm really looking forward to seeing how I can support coaches in being more trauma-informed if you're working with clients it's very likely that you're working with someone who has experienced trauma, so how do you bring in those skills and tools to support them more deeply as well.
And ultimately I'm just excited to see what happens next, you know if you had told me in 2007 that this was what 2018 would look like I probably would've laughed at you, you know life is one of those amazing things that unfolds, we set intentions and goals and plans and then we also you know sit in the flow of it and see where we find ourselves, so as I look ahead I look I look forward to supporting anyone who has gone through this sort of trauma and really returning to their genuine self and all I mean by that is I love helping men and women every day get to be the people who they were supposed to be before any of that bullshit happened so they can go on and live their lives have a family, have love, have relationships, and make the impact in the world that they want to make. Cheers to that.