At Keia Wellness, we like to learn about the benefits and practice of all kinds of wellness therapy. We believe that no-one knows the ins and outs of a particular practice better than the brilliant professionals who help people to look and feel better about themselves every day.
So, in our Professional Spotlight series, we talk to practicing professionals to get the real deal on them, their work and how we could benefit from what they do.
Meet the Professional
Dave Wood is a Life Coach based in Birkenhead. He offers 1:1 life coaching through his private practice, Realign Coaching. He also runs a social enterprise, Metanoeo CIC, which trains life coaches and offers placements in community projects.
Q. Tell us about a typical day or week in your practice?
A.I don’t have a typical week as such, but most weeks usually involve a combination of coaching, training, lecturing and writing.
My coaching sessions are all one-to-one. Some happen in the office, some at local community projects and some in other venues in the city centre. I also deliver a variety of training sessions each week, along with some regular lecturing slots in psychosocial analysis and community wellbeing at a couple of local universities.
One of my priorities is the time I set aside for my own development. Each week I spend some time working through different courses, reading and writing for my weekly wellbeing blog and email.
Q. What kinds of people do you help and how?
A. Metanoeo CIC is focused on working with marginalised or disadvantaged people who typically wouldn’t be able to access life coaching. Many of the people we help have experienced domestic abuse, poor mental health or are recovering from various forms of addiction. We meet many of them through foodbanks and community debt advice services.
This work continues over in my private practice, Realign Life Coaching, where I support people who struggle with a variety of issues, as well as people who simply want to improve their experience of life or work. This includes people in managerial positions, stay at home parents and people who have convictions and are attempting to rebuild their life.
My focus is on getting people to review where they are, realign their life with their values and then realise who they can be. I think all of us can benefit from this form of life realignment.
Q. What are the highlights of your job?
A. Whenever I come out of a coaching appointment I’m always struck by what a huge privilege it is to be sharing part of someone’s journey with them. I never cease to feel humbled by the trust and honesty that develops so quickly in coaching relationships.
In some sessions, there will be laughter and in others tears but, no matter what the emotion, the focus is always on creating a safe and warm environment for the coachee.
To show this in practice, one of my favourite stories of success is that of a woman who had suffered significant domestic abuse. A key part of her coaching journey was to address her issues with body image. I set some gently challenging homework to encourage her to start seeing herself as beautiful. Although she struggled with this work, she persisted and at her next session was able to look at her own face in a mirror and explain how she now saw the scars on her skin as part of her beauty, not something to be ashamed of. It was an incredibly emotional and joyful experience for both of us.
Q. What do you think makes a good coach?
A. It’s hard to limit this to one thing, but for me it has to start with developing a secure base in your own life and having a good support structure around you. Without this you put yourself in a vulnerable position.
From that I would say listening and empathy. This combination helps a practitioner to be focused on the needs of the coachee, as opposed to their own ideas and ideals.
Continuing to read and learn is also an important part of developing yourself as an effective practitioner. At Metanoeo we have a peer supervision network and ongoing CPD (continuing professional development) to ensure we work on our own wellbeing, development and accountability.
Q. Tell us a bit about you. How did you get into this line of work?
A. At school I really wanted to be a pilot but was told that people from my school don’t fly planes! So, I worked through a variety of careers, including spending thirteen years as a probation officer. It was only when I was approaching forty, that I finally found my niche.
For the last five years of my employment I co-managed an inner-city probation team and was a branch chair of the probation trade union NAPO. During this time, I was also completing a PhD in Theology and Community Justice and I became increasingly aware of how privatization of the probation service was limiting my ability to help the people in my care. I ended up taking a very difficult six-months off work with anxiety and depression.
With the benefit of counselling, I was able to make the brave decision to resign so that I could launch my own business. This enabled me to get back to my professional passion of helping people to overcome the difficulties that prevent them achieving their full potential in life.
Q. What lessons have you learnt from life?
A. To experience every experience as something you can learn from and grow with. Some of the most painful experiences of my life have also been the ones that have most positively shaped me.
Q. What do you do to take care of your own wellbeing?
A. I have my own personal mentor and a business mentor. I also allow myself dedicated time to learn and grow, and even just daydream or take a nap (in fact I’ve developed the habit of taking a nap every day).
Among many other things, people and music make me happy, so my idea of the perfect day off is some food, drink, friends and time spent playing my guitar or drums and singing.
Q. Finally, do you have a motto or bit of positive self-talk that you live by?
A. Yes. Be more Dave.
Dr Dave Wood is a life coach, trainer, lecturer and social entrepreneur. He is a member of the Association for Coaching (AMAC) and a community member of Forum Housing Association. To find out more about him or book a session click here.
Articles by Dr Wood