Meet the Coach: Maria Rachel Gonzalez
What attracted you to become a coach?
In many ways, coaching found me rather than me finding it. I’ve always loved self-development and the feeling that I can make a difference. I came to the realisation that it is the individuality of people that really interests me in life.
For the last 10 years, I’ve been on my own recovery voyage, so I identify with the need to increase our wellbeing for the good of our lives.
Whether personally or professionally, people would often ask to ‘chat things through’ and would often comment on how much more positive and clear they felt after speaking to me.
Coaching has been a tool that has kept me motivated and positive during challenging times, and I have learnt to implement various strategies to obstacles as they arise – which has been life-changing. Therefore coaching others felt like the right path and it naturally evolved from there.
Where did you train?
An International Coaching Federation (ICF) course provider in Edinburgh and London
What kind of coaching do you offer?
My coaching is relevant to any client who wishes to increase their wellbeing and to manage themselves better. And also for clients who have a clear idea of what their goals are, but might need support in achieving them.
Your wellbeing is exclusive to you, and involves finding your own unique balance. Holistic wellbeing means taking on board mental, physical, emotional and spiritual factors.
Coaching is conversation with direction; the structure will differ depending on what feels right for my clients. They may wish to put a flexible plan in place, or even go with the flow. Usually I work with people for 6-8 sessions. However if at any point someone feels better suited to something else or someone else that is totally OK too. There are no binding contracts, only a commitment to improvement is required.
My style is very human, with an ‘into action’ ethos. The most important thing to me is that we agree on being a suitable fit to work together, and clients feel comfortable – that’s really when the results happen
I am mindful we are all ‘a work in progress’. Coaching isn’t about achieving perfection and pressuring ourselves; it's about moving much closer to how you would like to be, and towards long-term solutions.
How does wellbeing coaching help?
- It can help when we are overwhelmed and we don't even know why
- It can give clarity and direction to help clear the fog
- It offers the time and headspace to gain clarification of what is really going on, and what is really important in order to move forward
- It helps you re-discover your exclusive wellbeing balance. This increases our sense of identity and self-esteem
- It helps you acknowledge emotions
- It helps you be more present and appreciate the moment
- It can make you feel more positive, energetic, creative, connected to yourself and others around you
- Coaching helps you make sustainable wellbeing changes
What sort of clients do you usually see?
I welcome any client who feels coaching would be suitable for them, and – importantly – who is willing and has the desire to make changes for themselves.
Do you ever suggest books or other materials to clients?
I suggest the client explores these for themselves. I will sometimes mention what is working or has worked for me if appropriate.
For example, meditation has been massively beneficial for me. I am currently finding sleep meditation apps great as part of my own evening routine.
And I take inspiration from all different types of people, places, things and situations every day.
What do you like about being a coach?
I have always loved travelling, exploring and meeting people from all walks of life. Now that I'm physically settled in London, I find it so rewarding to partner with people on their internal journeys. So, in some ways, like going on a travelling adventure together! There's a saying: ‘Wherever you go, you take yourself with you…’
I also like how coaching allows for self-expression and the freedom to think in a more creative way about situations. It’s really exciting and rewarding to watch people blossom.
What is less pleasant?
I only focus on what I enjoy about it. But the wider issue is that there are so many people that could benefit from coaching. It should be affordable and accessible and more recognised, even more so given the current challenging situation as had huge wellbeing implications for so many people.
What is the one piece of advice you would give someone?
I’m not an advice giver however I often suggest how small yet effective changes can make a massive difference. It never ceases to amaze me.
What do you wish people knew about coaching?
It’s quite misunderstood and often people don’t really know what it is, confusing it with thinking a coach is some kind of ‘instructor’. It’s not about telling people what to do or imparting advice.
I wish more people knew how coaching can help maintain a healthy mindset and be a preventive ‘work out’ measure for low mood and energy. Talking with direction forms, and is an important part of, our overall wellness strategy. Often people don’t wait until they feel unfit to go to the gym or other things etc – so why leave discussing and maintaining overall wellbeing?
Do you have a favourite client testimonial or particular success story?
An unexpectedly difficult and stressful issue arose for one of my clients at work. Several weeks before, we had started exploring her work-life balance. Those around her personally and professionally had already started commenting on the positive changes they had noticed in her, even asking her “what has happened to you?”, to which she explained she was being coached.
She also recognised her positive new habits for herself and said that without a doubt coaching had helped her to deal with the unexpected situation at work differently to how she would have done previously, in a much more balanced way.
Another client felt unmotivated, un-energetic and their general wellbeing was low due to being out of work. They even admitted they had been sceptical about whether coaching would be effective (they told me on the last session!)
This client went from having little direction to having a sense of purpose, an improved mindset and having adopted a health and fitness routine as well.
Part of their final testimonial said: ‘”small steps every day led to big changes and much needed transformation” and " [I learnt that] making intentional choices gave energy” , and was “happier than before”. Coaching even renewed an interest in politics and this client started lobbying for changes they were passionate about!!
Lastly, a recent client went from feeling very anxious due to furlough and the issues around the pandemic to ‘"looking forward to sessions to acknowledge achievements, and what a difference it had made”. Coaching helped her to do things again she once enjoyed, and incorporate wellbeing strategies to reduce stress.“Thank you helped me to feel better about everything”