Why Trauma Informed Matters & the Value of Ethics in Coaching w/ Melissa Lapides – She Leads She Thrives Podcast Ep 60

Melissa Lapides_Episode 60_She Leads She Thrives Podcast Insta

In this episode Melissa and I talk about

I have been looking forward to sharing this new episode with guest Melissa Lapides since we recorded this conversation a little while back. I first became aware of Melissa’s work a year or so ago and have so appreciated learning more about her approaches to trauma-informed practice.

I also came to learn more about her experiences transitioning from psychotherapy to coaching and back again, plus her stance on trauma-informed coaching and its importance. When I saw Melissa sharing more about ethics in the coaching industry and advocating for change through her collaboration with others committed to ethical practice in coaching, I was even more drawn in and curious to know more.

I was delighted when Melissa said yes to joining me to create this conversation for you all. Whether you are a mental health professional of some kind, coaching, or leading an online service business, I am certain you will find value in all we talk about in this episode.

In this episode, you’ll hear us talk through the following topics

  • 0406 Melissa’s experience from psychotherapy to coaching and back again
  • 0953 Trauma-informed coaching and its importance
  • 1435 Ethics in the coaching industry and advocating for change
  • 2517 Coaching industry scams and ethics
  • 4616 Ethics in coaching and supervision
  • 53:25 What role does leadership play in your life and business?
  • 56:11 How do you know when you’re thriving?
  • 57:39 Connect with Mellissa Lapides
  • 59:34 A final piece of wisdom from Melissa
Melissa Lapides_She Leads She Thrives Podcast Ep 60 Insta Quote | Trauma informed coaching | Shannon Dunn Thrive Factor Archetypes Business Coaching Perth Australia

Connect with guest Melissa Lapides

Meet Melissa

Melissa Lapides, a Licensed Psychotherapist, Trauma, and Attachment expert, and the visionary Founder of The SafeSpace™ Institute brings nearly two decades of dedicated experience to her work. Melissa is passionate about helping individuals and couples heal from trauma and attachment issues while also teaching trauma-informed care to professionals. Through her unique SAFE™ Methodology, she empowers people to cultivate empathy, establish boundaries, enhance communication, and break free from the cycle of trauma.

Connect with Melissa

Episode Transcript


She Lead She Thrives, the home of inspired conversations, practical and creative wisdom, expansive leadership and business insights, abundant Bragaudacious moments of celebration and useful info you can actually do something with.


You’ll hear about mindset marketing, money, magnetism, self awareness and the Thrive Factor Framework, it’s Archetypes and more. Amplify your role as a leader, a self led soul. Tap into your effortless success zone. Turn your ingeniousness and wisdom into profitable income streams.


From solo shows to guests you’ll definitely want more from, there’s something for every ambitious ingenious soul. 


I’m Shannon Dunn, a true OG of the business coaching space, with an obsession with thriving. You are so welcome here. Let’s dive into today’s episode.


Visit ThriveFactorCo.com/links for all the latest news and offers.

Shannon Dunn  01:16

Great big welcome everybody, I’m delighted to have you back listening to a new guest episode. And I know I say this, I even say this part every week or every time we have a new guest how excited I am about who I’m getting to speak to. And it’s no different today. So if you haven’t listened to the podcast before, if you’re not familiar, my name is Shannon Dunn, I am the host here at She Lead She Thrives. I’m a long term, self leadership coach and business coach, and just have such joy in co-creating incredible conversations with leading women around the world who’ve got something interesting to share. 


Shannon Dunn  01:50

And so my guest today, Melissa is no different. If you’ve listened for a little bit of time, you know that I’m very committed to really reaching out to incredible change makers, impact makers, women that are really leaving a legacy in the world. And Melissa, you’re definitely one of those in my eyes. I don’t even remember how I first connected with you whether it was listening to you on a podcast or someone else I follow or just coming across your content. But it was at a time when you were shifting back into the therapy space from coaching. And that was fascinating to me, having also got therapy and counseling in my background, but never have having completely worked in that space. And then watching what you’ve done since seeing the work you’re doing with your ethics for coaching. So I’ve got so much to talk to you about today. So I’m delighted that you said yes when I reached out and said, Will you come and join me on the podcast and have a conversation about…there’s 1000 topics that we could talk about, right? 


Melissa Lapides  02:51

Oh, it’s an honor to be here. I always love having amazing conversations with other women and going through all these various topics that are so important.


Shannon Dunn  03:03

So important. So let me share your bio so everyone can get a sense of who you are, who we’re who were talking to today who were put in the spotlight, and then we’ll get into some questions and see where our conversation takes us. So Melissa Lapides is a licensed psychotherapist, trauma attachment expert and founder of the Safe Space Institute. She’s has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs and CEOs. And by using her proprietary SAFE™ methodology, her clients have been able to expand their personal and professional relationships and ensure they are leading without perpetuating trauma. 


Shannon Dunn  03:34

Melissa leverages over 20 years of experience in teaching psychological principles for optimal mental and organizational wellness. So welcome, again. So excited to have you here. And as I just said before, in that intro, there are so many things that we could talk about;  your business, your area of expertise in trauma and also how much trauma impacts people, your work with a Ethics for Coaching project and your shift into coaching from the therapeutic space, and back again. 


Shannon Dunn  04:06

So I think let’s start there, and we’ll see where we end up with what we talking about today. So tell us about how you did transition into coaching because a majority of the audience that listen to their podcast, are in the coaching or online service business space, so they’re aware of the coaching industry. I’ve been talking a lot about some of my challenges with it and some of the things that I see in the shifts and maybe not so good things that are happening. So you know, the spotlights already been put on that and talking more about ethical practice, which we’ll get to that more but I’d love to know about your personal story of going from psychotherapy  to having a practice with clients and then shifting into coaching and, and back again, so tell me more about that.


Melissa Lapides  04:49

Yeah, it was actually a total accident that I got shifted into the coaching industry. It was after my divorce and I was looking for steady income that I got offered some work through a coaching company from a life coach. And she wanted me to help support her groups and the clients that she was working with. And while I got involved, I started to realize like, whoa, what are some of these weird methods that she’s using to move people forward that don’t actually seem psychologically safe, including the sales process. And so as I got further down this rabbit hole and started meeting other coaches, business coaches, life coaches, spiritual coaches, my mind was kind of blown, to be honest, because I saw this trend of some of these practices that were being used and sales tactics, and the price that these people were charging for their services. 


Melissa Lapides  06:00

And you know, as a therapist back, let’s say, this was maybe eight years ago, you know, when therapists were barely making money, I was like, What is going on here, where a lot of these people have no training, and here they are, you know, charging like 20 million times as much as psychotherapist with 20 million times less credentials and education. And there was this whole part where there was psychological manipulation happening in a very methodical way that I saw happening across the board. And so that was my grand entry into the coaching industry.


Shannon Dunn  06:45

And I understand some of that from my own lens and experience, because I’ve always approached coaching in a very different way, I feel, to a lot of my peers, no matter where they are in the world. And I am grateful, every day for having that background that includes counseling and art therapy, because I have a different learning style in terms of working with people. And I know it’s probably the last five years – I’ve been coaching for a couple of decades now – but the probably the last five years that I’ve seen a greater increase in entry into the coaching space, and practices that just make me want to curl up and I don’t even know what to do about them. They so concerning, right.


Melissa Lapides  07:27

I hear you, I hear you. And now being you know, in volved in the industry for such a long time, I can really see there is a clear line between professional coaches that actually are doing amazing job at helping their clients and have education and have training and have professionalism and ethics. There is so many wonderful coaches in the industry. And there is this whole slew of what we call scam-fluencers, right. And these are the life coaches that are really influencers that are scamming people through the lens of life coaching or business coaching. And it seems to be an epidemic that really picked up during Covid. 


Melissa Lapides  08:20

It’s no doubt that it blew up because people were in such a like space of the unknown. And when you’re going to scam somebody, the most vulnerable place that people could be in is the unknown. And so these kind of scam artist influencer coaches really preyed on people that were in a very vulnerable place. And we saw the coaching industry, like, blow up during that time. And then it seems like it’s popping. The bubble of that scam kind of coaching thing that has been happening. I think a lot more people have been getting wise to it and really questioning the people that they’re hiring to see what their education and background is. And I think it’s becoming clearer who are actually professional coaches and who are these scamming influencer coaches?


Shannon Dunn  09:28

Yeah, there’s I agree with you. This is definitely from my view and looking at it even globally in different parts of the world, that there is more discernment coming from a greater population of clients of coaches, across the coaching industry, no matter what focus the coach has, life coaching, business coaching, spiritual coaching, health coaching, it doesn’t kind of almost matter these days. I’m excited about that. But I still feel there’s a gap in the education space I think we’ll probably talk about that when we get to ethics for coaching a little bit more, you know how we can really support the clients of coaches worldwide to understand what to look for, and how to make that informed decision about who to invest their money with. 


Melissa Lapides  10:13

Yeah, well, a story of my life is very traumatic. So that’s how come I was drawn to trauma. I didn’t choose it, it kind of choose me. I love your mug, that is awesome. I’m a Wonder Woman fan.


Shannon Dunn  10:13

Because as you also rightly pointed out, the investments in terms of pricing that gets put on coaching related things, compared to what therapists and other mental health professionals are allowed to charge because  their regulation bodies and different things,  are so far apart. And that is always set in a very uncomfortable space for me as well. So there’s so many things to unpack there. But what I’d like to talk a little bit more about now after that intro is around the area of trauma, and that’s your area, your expertise, trauma attachment. So can you share with us a little about how you came to focus on that? Like, how did trauma become your thing as a licensed psychotherapist, and the little bit of the kind of work you actually do in your practice? Now, you’ve gone more into your practice again, and not coaching. 


Shannon Dunn  11:16

Those that aren’t seeing Melissa and I on video, there’s the over my shoulder lots of Wonder Woman paraphernalia,


Melissa Lapides  11:25

My hero, my hero. 


Melissa Lapides  11:29

So yeah, I had a lot of early childhood trauma, relational trauma, and attachment issues myself. And through my own journey of healing, I have realized there’s life on the other side of it. And it does take an awful lot of dedication and work to move through the healing that it takes to really repair that early childhood attachment and trauma. And I love to support people through that, because I know what a game changer it is, and how your life can really look completely different than it currently does when you’re still perpetuating those wounds inside of you.


Shannon Dunn  12:18

Yeah, I think it’s interesting that to me, that trauma has become such a focus of the coaching industry, as well. And I definitely noticed this as Covid expanded into the world, and all of the different experiences that people were personally and collectively going through, I felt like the coaching industry kind of jumped on the trend of all people are in trauma. So let’s kind of focus on that. And that, again, was another flag for me, very bright red flag, around the understanding the need to have such incredible professional training around working with people safely with trauma, and what coaching even offers, and I wouldn’t even with the professional background I have. And I’ve said this many times, I wouldn’t refer to myself as trauma informed, trauma aware, yes. But I didn’t receive trauma appropriate training in my counseling or art therapy. 


Melissa Lapides  13:17

 And a lot of people don’t. 


Shannon Dunn  13:18

How are coaches getting into the space of having that “expertise”, let’s say in inverted commas in trauma. So I’d love to kind of hear your thoughts around that. And how that was working for you seeing that rise, and everyone suddenly became a trauma informed coach of some kind. 


Melissa Lapides  13:36

It was really disturbing. And that’s why I decided to like put together the program that I used to teach on trauma informed coaching, because I’m like, whoa, if people are doing this, let me help to make sure they’re doing it cautiously. And so I had been teaching a program for two years. And what I noticed is a lot of these girls would come through the program just to post on their Instagram, that they were in the program, and then they would never show up. And so that became really problematic. And then I felt out of integrity, myself even opening that door. So my first thought was, let me help to keep it safe. And then I was like, You know what, maybe I need to step out of this because I saw so many people that were actually using my name to say they were in the program but never show up. And that didn’t feel ethical to me.



 And so, I have since stepped back from the coaching industry and moved into a different way of engaging in it, which is the Ethics for Coaching Initiative, which is an initiative that I put together to help raise awareness for consumers in the industry and for practitioners to really understand what ethical practice looks like, but to also create a space where people could report incidents that they’ve had where they have been taken advantage of, so that we could start collecting data to petition for laws to be changed, which is something that we’re really advocating for. And we are also supporting consumers to find legal support. We have a handful of attorneys that are privy to understanding this scam that is happening in the industry, also the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission, is on to it. Now, there’s a whole thing on their website around this coach scams and these scams that we’re seeing a lot of and so I have gotten amazing group of advocates together;  legal advocates, social science advocates, therapists, professional coaches, that all really care about pushing this movement forward to get some real laws put in place in the industry so that this can stop already, because so many people have been financially and emotionally abused because of the lack of professionalism and the lack of ethics and regulation in the industry.


Shannon Dunn  16:26

Yeah, there’s so much that’s going on. And I, I think it’s, it’s not that you have to have a professional background and either as a mental health professional, or some area of your working life where you’re aware of ethical practice, or even be an actual qualified coach and be aware of coaching methodology and how to actually work with people to see this. And to sense this. And I find it’s interesting, there seems to be a large population of coaches who are oblivious to what’s going on, oblivious to the things their clients are even asking them about the challenges in the coaching industry, or whatever language they’re using. 


Shannon Dunn  17:02

And then there’s a group of us, and I put myself in that with you, that are aware, interested to see what’s unfolding, and want it to be different. So I love that when I saw ethics for coaching pop up, whether it was possibly on your content, on Instagram, where most connected with you. And this is interesting, like there was a bigger leaning effect for me of going I want to know what this is all about. Even the name of it, too, just made sense to me. And it’s been interesting, observing other content they get shared and the debate about well, what is really ethical anyway, how can we even decide what is ethical. And I love that there’s a very open from my viewpoint from your, like the ethics for coaching community and a very open approach to exploring lots of different things. And I think I may have mentioned this to you in our chats as well in direct messages and stuff that I hope this goes global, because I know right now, you’re really honing in on the US and have connections and your resources are mostly there. But this isn’t something that’s just based in North America, in terms of its influence happening in coaching. So I’d love to know more about the ultimate vision over time for ethics for coaching.


Melissa Lapides  18:21

Yeah, I mean, some of the ultimate vision would be to transform the whole industry and kind of have a set of guidelines that all coaches could abide by and really understand where their scope of practice is. I know, for therapists, it’s really clear what we can and what we cannot do. And for coaches, there are no ethical guidelines. So we have written our own book of just, you know, what we feel as a group of professionals, our ethics ethical guidelines. Now, they’re not hard and fast rules, by any means. But for any coaches that are wondering what that can look like and why we’ve given tons of examples and tons of resources on what is and what is not ethical. And, of course, it’s subject to be questioned and changed. And we are very open around that and accepting feedback on what other people feel as they go through these ethical guidelines. And we’ve added a bunch as people have brought up concerns and we just really want to keep pushing this forward so that we can create a structure for the industry where consumers can really feel safe.


Shannon Dunn  19:48

No, it’s been great. I downloaded the guidelines very early on, as soon as I saw them, it’s like, again, a curiosity in me was sparked to say, Well, what have they included? You know whats in here, and I found it so useful. And as someone who also has my own coaching certification, focusing on the Thrive Factor Framework, which is my Archetypal self leadership framework, I am big on talking about ethics in coaching and appropriate practice and scope of practice and actual referring on when you’re out of scope, and all of those kinds of things. So it was really great to have that resource to share with my coaching community as well. And to talk to them about why I was so interested, why this is important to me, I don’t think any of them are unsure about why, they’ve heard me go on about it enough. But they’ve not come from the same professional background as I have. So it’s not that they were unaware of the importance of ethics, but they just didn’t think about it. And while they  all have a certification with me, they also have some other kinds of coaching certification. So I’m really not surprised because certifications or qualifications have always been important to me. I’m not surprised that I’ve attracted people that also value that into my world. But at some point in time, it’s highly likely someone’s going to come that doesn’t yet have that.


Melissa Lapides  21:13

That’s another thing is like, we really want to protect coaches that are practicing ethically, because a lot of these coaches that are not, are ruining it for the whole industry and putting a bad name to amazing professional coaches that have been doing this for many years. And they’re out speaking them, because a lot of these people are marketing geniuses, but they don’t have the credentials and the skill sets to actually support clients. And so part of the mission is to have ethical coaches be able to shine and not be under the umbrella of these loud influencers that are pretending to be coaches, and just charging a lot of money for nothing.


Shannon Dunn  22:02

It’s such an interesting thing to observe isn’t it, how thats come about, how that group of individuals has come, where they’ve come from, and how fast that group has grown. And I think we’ve already highlighted this Covid and the advent of that, the change in the world, people losing their jobs, looking for something else, looking for a different kind of income, looking at what coaches are making. And I think also there’s a percentage of the coaching population out there that will say, Yeah, coaching is easy, because there’s little to no barrier to entry.


Melissa Lapides  22:35

That’s one of the big marketing tools is like, you don’t even have to have skills, you don’t even have to know what you’re doing. You can just follow my formula and make the same amount of money that I’m making.No credentials required. And it’s like, oh, my gosh, is this really happening? and then opening the psyches of humans that mostly have trauma, I mean, most humans have some sort of trauma. And generally, the people that are getting attracted to this kind of let’s change your life really fast and make you a lot of money marketing are going to be the ones that don’t have the discernment skills to really understand, right, that this is problematic. 


Melissa Lapides  23:24

And that being said, I myself have fallen for business coach schemes and, and a lot of other professionals that I know, have fallen for business coach schemes, not as much life coach, but business coaching, because when you go to start a online business, like I did, and I had no idea what I was doing, I did reach out to a business coach who definitely took advantage of me for a huge sum of money. I could have gone the legal route with her but I decided to go the Ethics for Coaching Route and let that be my inspiration to really make a movement and speak up even louder.


Shannon Dunn  24:08

And that’s exactly what it feels like you’re doing and I love to work with ambitious motivated women who are real impact makers, and are here to create legacy. To leave some positive imprint in the world. Now that may only impact a very small community but it may be, like I can feel what you where you’re at, gobal in terms of its reach. So that excites me that you’re like, Okay, I thought about it, and I could have gone down this route or I have another choice here. 


Melissa Lapides  24:39

It really means a lot to me, and it does feel like a legacy kind of thing because I actually come from a sociopathic father who lived his life scamming other people for his living and so this really hits like a heart spot with me. And that’s why I’m so passionate about shutting down scam artists because I see the damage that it does not just to the people that they are victimizing, but to their families and everybody around them as well. 


Shannon Dunn  25:17

It goes beyond their client group doesn’t it, far beyond that. And I also found it fascinating when I first looked into coaching was through a corporate coaching experience. And I remember sitting there and receiving this incredible coaching experience as part of a group of leaders in the organization I was working in, probably talking 25 years ago now. And back then, there wasn’t so much that there wasn’t coaching qualifications, but the gentleman that was coaching, was an organizational psychologist who had learned some coaching methodology. So it was a blend of the two. But I remember sitting there and thinking, where’s this been all my life?  I can see myself doing this, this is the blend of the kind of way I want to work with people. Plus, it took on board, my mental health, professional background and  the therapeutic space that I found so interesting. And  that was so valuable. And yet we find you we shift, 10, 15, 20 years, because I’m talking probably 25 years ago, I had that experience. And now we see coaches coaching coaches coaching coaches, and just saying, do what I do, and this will happen and do what I do. And that that’s the kind of training that some coaches are receiving and believing that’s enough.


Melissa Lapides  26:38

It’s sad, because I was getting a lot of these girls that were recovering from this in my program and in my inbox, and just listening to the stories of what they were promised, what they were told, how they were treated. It just really broke my heart into a million pieces, because it’s very much like the people that are attracted to this are seekers, right. They’re vulnerable seeking, really giving trust, that’s what we do when we’re looking for coaching or therapy or leadership. It’s a space where you deeply trust the person who is leading you. And so many of these consumers were led in such a wrong direction, and then when they speak up, they’d get gaslit, they’d get refused their money back, it would be turned on them. And then they would feel worse than when they started. 


Melissa Lapides  27:44

And this is the epidemic that I started seeing over and over and over again. And when I started to connect with some other women that were speaking up, because I felt alone speaking up at first. I started speaking up and I got smashed. I mean, people were angry with me, and they still are. I mean, I think there’s a whole Reddit thread about what an awful human I am or something. Yeah, but it’s okay. Because I understand that some people really aren’t gonna like it. We’re talking about multimillion dollar businesses that I’m speaking out against. And of course, people are not going to like me for doing that. And that’s okay. Because I feel like I can’t live with myself if I don’t do that, especially because of my past and my history and knowing the damage that could be done when you watch perpetrators prey on vulnerable people and don’t speak up. I almost feel like you’re part of the problem, then.


Shannon Dunn  28:48

Yeah, yeah, no, I get that completely. How, like, what kind of percentage just off the top of your head, do you feel could be people that are in the coaching space are calling themselves coaches, or what I also saw a big shift into using the term mentor? where previously they were using the term coach that are maybe not as aware as what we’re highlighting in terms of the fact that they could be scamming. Yeah. How many of you feel like kind of fallen into that? 


Melissa Lapides  29:17

I don’t know but I think there’s probably quite a big percentage especially because you could see some of these really big scam- fluencers have huge followings. And you just see the fawning that happens even reading through the comments sections of their posts. It’s like this idealization that’s happening and that’s what’s mostly problematic. Is that people are selling their lifestyle, they’re selling their highlights, they’re selling, this glamorous life that they have and saying you do what I do. And you could have this too, right. And it’s just so easy. You just have to think this way, and do these things. And it’s just a repeat of the scamming that they’re doing. 


Melissa Lapides  30:14

So they’re telling people to act and pretend like there’s something that they’re not before they’re there and promote themselves that way. And so it’s like you’re selling a lie, you’re selling a lie, and not just selling a lie to tell people to do those things that aren’t actually happening. But the percentage of people that are actually going to be making those incomes that you’re claiming are so easy, though, that’s just not happening, I can get that percentage, and that percentage would probably be 1% or less, right. 


Melissa Lapides  30:49

It’s like multilevel marketing, when they say anybody could do it. And I was part of a multi level marketing company. And I actually really liked the company, I didn’t like the business model, because I saw the same thing happening. This idea of it could be easy, anybody could do it. And that’s just not the truth. And, you know, the, the one that I worked for definitely did put out the numbers and say, only 1% makes this much, only 5% makes this much….. 


Shannon Dunn  31:20

Some transparency. 


Melissa Lapides  31:22

There was transparency, more, a lot more transparency. And I wish that was the case, in the coaching industry, when people are like, Oh, my clients make $100,000 a month, how many of your clients are actually doing that. List your past clients and take a percentage, because you’re only showing the highlights and who knows if that’s even true, to be honest, I highly doubt it.


Shannon Dunn  31:48

I know, it’s been such an interesting thing to see the shift in the marketing messaging around money and earnings for coaches, because that was never a thing back and again, and having been in the industry so long, I’ve seen, what to me felt like weird things, suddenly showing up in the way that coaches, particularly business coaches, where exec coaches, as well, but more business coaches were marketing themselves. And knowing the reality that such a tiny percentage of people in the coaching space or really, any professional space, are going to make six figures in a year or more. Or otherwise, let alone this the whole vision or this dream of six or multi six figures a month, I find that fascinating that that’s now become the benchmark where I know that say even five, six years ago, if you were a six figure business in a year, you were doing really well like where do we shift from that as an annual thing to a monthly thing? It feels like


Melissa Lapides  32:44

But wait, you could do it with ease. Sitting on the beach, with your feminine energy, right?


Shannon Dunn  32:51

Another big trend for a little while, I’m sure it still is, in the bath with champagne. 


Melissa Lapides  32:57

Just doing  barely anything. If we were to show some Harvard Business School graduates this idea, they would laugh at it, right? And that’s what these women are promoting. Like, you can’t think like a normal person, which is all cult mentality. And it’s all brainwashing, and manipulation and bringing people into magical thinking. So whenever we see people selling money, more money, it’s a huge red flag. I wish I had a red flag in my drawer here. It is like the biggest red flag when somebody’s selling these get rich quick schemes to  you – red flag like automatic, red, red, red, red, red flag.


Shannon Dunn  33:42

Yeah, no, it’s so much so. Because along with that, you can make X amount per month, I’ve seen a shift in many coaches, trying to define themselves in terms of their point of differences.  I help clients get to five figures, or six figures or whatever, you know, and often very specific, like, I will support you or coach you to get to regular, consistent 10K months, and  then it goes up to, you know, 40K, 60K, that 100K, it just keeps going on and on and on. And you know, and also the “I did it and I’ll share with you exactly how I did it. So you just follow the same thing, and you will get the same result”. That is a challenge for me.


Melissa Lapides  34:20

Not trauma informed. There’s nothing trauma informed about that, because that’s not taking into consideration people’s unique and individual situations. And that was the same red flag that I saw in network marketing. So you’re telling Sally and Jenny both but Jenny is a single mom who is  on food stamps that has no resources, and Sally has a following already have 100,000 people and so you’re telling both of these women that they have equal opportunity to create the same level of financial success. Absolutely red flag. Not acceptable, not trauma informed, not inclusive, not considerate at all. And it’s actually so damaging to sell people that lie.


Shannon Dunn  35:12

Yeah, so much so. In the last couple of years, I have done some work with an incredible mentor around inclusivity, with a particular focus on leading a more racially inclusive business, and I loved being involved in the conversations about equity, which just makes me think about what you just pointed out there as an example, Melissa. Where you have so many things being promised to individuals that all have a unique background, that is got so many intricacies woven into it, that there is no way that any promise can ever be made, that they will achieve any kind of success of any definition, let alone or achieve that.


Shannon Dunn  35:52

So what do we do about this? And aside from you know, what you’re doing with ethics for coaching, how else apart from speaking up and being those ones that are putting yourselves in the spotlight for talking out about these things? What else can we do to start shifting, do you think and really, so if anyone’s listening, and they’re just even whether they’re already aware, like you and I have awareness? Or the light bulbs are going off for the first time around? Oh, wait a second,  where do we start with this in terms of supporting ourselves and our clients that genuinely want to be working with professional coaches?


Melissa Lapides  36:24

Yeah, I think definitely sign up for the Ethics for Coaching and movement and spread the word and spread the handbook. And I’m not saying that, because I’d benefit from that at all, because it’s been a complete volunteer experience for every single person involved. 


Shannon Dunn  36:44

You’ve all been very transparent about that as well, which I also appreciate it, who’s involved, and the fact that it was volunteer, and even investing in your own financially to get things up and running.


Melissa Lapides  36:56

Literally, and we’ve been behind the scenes for a year meeting together, just volunteer time, because we all feel so passionately about it. But I do think just keep spreading the word and really telling people and explaining the differences and, and shouting out the red flags, because it’s so prevalent out there on the internet, and new people get involved every day in these kinds of things.  But yeah, I think we have to just keep spreading the word and speaking up around it, because that’s the only way that we’re going to get the message out there. Because like I was saying New people come in every single day, and we just have to keep advocating for consumers to understand what the red flags are, and how to discern what is bullshit from what is actually going to support them and what they’re looking for.


Shannon Dunn  38:06

Yeah, agree, there is such an opportunity, I feel for those of us that want to speak out. And I am a big advocate for people trusting their own instincts. And if you feel like you want to ask questions, or reach out and explore more then people like yourself, and the Ethics for Coaching community are a great place to start. If they’re really not sure where there literally is a safe space to reach out to. And to connect with. 


Shannon Dunn  38:33

I’m always happy to speak to people to share my views, my thoughts, my experiences, confidentially, of course, because I think that’s also another important thing to be mindful of is a confidentiality for people. And I love that one of the initiatives that you have with Ethics for Coaching, as you said, is people being able to share feedback in a safe way, where they don’t have to worry about who’s going to see it necessarily what how its might could be used against them. Because when I’ve seen examples of this, I’m sure you’ve probably seen a lot more than I have being in a timezone that’s the opposite to North America. Sometimes I don’t see some of the things I hear about them after and people will be talking about, did you see this person or this such and such got called out or whatever. And I’ve kind of missed the whole thing being in a different timezone. Right, I tend to be able to find what’s going on. But what I was suggesting was that people that often have spoken up against their former coaches, for example, in some way, shape or form, can receive such negative feedback and experience and, there’s so many I can’t even think of all the words because there’s so many different examples I’ve seen, but I can understand why people can get to a place where they’re like, You know what, I’m just gonna be quiet about this and move on and probably never work with a coach again.


Melissa Lapides  39:51

Absolutely. Absolutely. When I actually addressed the business coach, she gaslit me and pretty much told me she dragged me all the way like down the road if I started speaking up about her, in particular, and so a lot of these people that start by addressing the actual coach, they get gaslit, they get threatened, they get bullied, and it could be really, really shameful. So they don’t speak up, and they don’t reach out for help. And so that’s what we wanted to be, also was a safe space where people could anonymously post reviews of other coaches to support other people that were thinking about working with some of these coaches. Because a lot of these girls have such shame around what has happened, because they’ve been so treacherously abused, financially and emotionally, by these coaches.


Shannon Dunn  40:51

I’ve had some of my own experiences like you have, in terms of getting something I didn’t sign up for, like or not getting what I did sign up for. And I am very discerning about where I put my money. And I’m very, you know, I’m the person that does want to have a phone call sometimes and will go through all of the fine details you have promised, wants to see your terms and conditions. I’m that kind of a person. I know that’s not necessarily a norm out there. A lot of people just said like they’re jump in. The promises of the get rich quick things, or whatever it looks like that they’re enticed by.


Shannon Dunn  41:31

 But yeah, the shame is a very real thing. And I know an experience that I had, where it was the biggest investment I’ve ever made, paying from earning in Australian dollars to paying US dollars, which is what their currency was, meant that it was like double in many regards. And the financial impacts that went on for years because of that, and there was a lot of shame for me, that I had to recognize, firstly, and unpack and understand. And it had a big impact on things like my sense of security, my sense of ability to trust myself that I could actually make those really professional, incredible decisions about where to invest moving forward. Who can I trust, can I trust myself, so it brought up a lot of different things. And you may have had those experiences with your coaching.


Melissa Lapides  42:26

Really, I felt ridiculous after I have so much training, and I trust this person, and I even fawned to her a lot in the beginning. And that’s what she said, like you loved the work. And that’s what a lot of them do is that they collect testimonials, and they collect these praises in the beginning. Because we do that when we are being abused in some way we fawn it’s a natural thing. Or they call it Stockholm Syndrome, when you praise and love the person that’s actually abusing you, because you want their validation and their approval. And so I did that whole thing with this coach. And then I was so shameful about it, especially when she threw it in my face after I tried to address the things that I saw that I was not comfortable with anymore. 


Melissa Lapides  43:26

And I sat in shame for a while before I even could process it or bring it up. And it really motivated me to create this Ethics for Coaching instead of fighting her because I thought about that, and that just didn’t feel like it was the route I wanted to go. I thought there was something bigger that I can make out of it and really propelled me to do that, which um, I don’t want to say I’m grateful for the abuse or the loss of that money because I’m absolutely not, I’m still horrified at what a huge loss it was. And also the other investments that she had me make that I’m sure she was benefiting from now looking back – horrified, like absolutely horrified. 


Melissa Lapides  44:19

But I too, got blindsided. And that is just proof that it doesn’t matter how educated you are. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you have. When you come in contact with some of these professional scam artist, it sees past education or where you’re from or who you know or what you do. It could happen to anybody I know attorneys that it’s happened to. I know very well educated people that it’s happened to. It’s just like getting brought into a cult. It doesn’t matter like how educated you are, and that’s why I want I really support people that have shame around this, not to feel shame. It’s just like getting robbed on a street like you don’t know that you’re gonna get robbed when you turn the corner, you’re just walking the street. And this is what happens when people are professional scam artists.


Shannon Dunn  45:19

Yeah, yeah. I think though it’s easy to understand when you view yourself and I’ve always, I guess, seen yourself as a professional individual who’s intelligent, as you said, who’s educated, who’s made good decisions and supporting themselves and the people that are important to them. And suddenly, you’ve made a decision, you made an investment. And everything about the experience just brings up all these things, it’s very easy to see how someone ends up in the space of shame and other emotive states and behavior states, right, so easy to see how that can happen. And then how you can go into hiding about it like the let’s keep it quiet. Let’s not tell anybody about that. Because how can you admit that you’ve put yourself out there as an image of a smart, intelligent individual. And yet, this, this happened to you, too? How?


Melissa Lapides  46:13

Yeah, yeah, it is such a challenge. I think for a lot of people that have been victims that they do carry that really deep shame. And it’s interesting, because when I start to take a consensus of a lot of these people who have been scammed, a lot of us do have early childhood trauma and attachment wounding. There is definitely a link there. Because I know that a lot of the women that I ended up speaking with or that have gone through my program that actually have gotten through it, have that commonality of having early childhood, relational wounding, and this is another dynamic that falls right in line with that wounding.


Shannon Dunn  47:00

Again, that makes so much sense to me. But someone is listening to us, and they’re recognizing the shame that they’re sitting with, through whatever experience they’ve had with the coaching industry, or some other kind of online industry or online service provider, what would you suggest is the first place for them to reach out to or first thing to do so that they can start to really shift the shame. And hopefully, you build a healthier relationship with themselves with the experience that they had and be able to in some ways, you could say, turn it into a positive, not ignore it, I think ignoring things is the worst thing we can do, but what you know, sitting heart of the the therapist here, what would you suggest as a starting point for people that are in that space?


Melissa Lapides  47:51

First of all, have self compassion, and let’s like, normalize that this is not something that you did wrong. This is something that like I said, any innocent person this could happen to and so really having compassion for yourself, and then reaching out to get proper therapeutic support from a licensed mental health professional. And looking at that shame. And exploring it within the context of a therapeutic relationship can help you to not only heal from the experience that you’ve had here, but probably it’s connected to other earlier experiences as well that need attention and healing. So getting that support is so so valuable.


Shannon Dunn  48:40

Yeah, yeah, I see an opportunity for bringing in a model that is very prevalent in the therapeutic space of supervision into the coaching industry, right. And it exists in little pockets around the world. And I have had previously Sas Petherick, who is based in the UK, she actually runs an incredible group, where they do focus on supervision for coaching. I’d love to know your thoughts on that, because it’s something that I know I’m going to bring into my graduate community from but again,  doing it with a right way. And not necessarily looking at myself as the most appropriate person to deliver that supervision. People may not even be aware of what supervision is for a start. So if you would like to share what that is, and then we can have a chat about how that could be a benefit for the coaching industry, as well as regulation.


Melissa Lapides  49:34

That’s something that we see as coming down the line with ethics for coaching is providing supervision groups because we do have a group of very experienced licensed mental health professionals that are part of the initiative that would really like to support coaches to get supervision and so when in therapy like we are required for our licensure to work with a supervisor for a certain amount of hours during our internship. And it’s actually like once a week that you have to pretty much go and present all your cases and just get another set of more experienced eyes to make sure that you’re covering all your bases and that your own personal biases and perceptions are not getting in the way of you giving your clients the most psychologically safe experience possible.


Shannon Dunn  50:31

Yeah. I, having become aware of supervision through my experience, mostly with art therapy, more than counseling, and then I was in the coaching space, why is it not here? Like, why do we not have something like this, you’re working so closely, in often very intimate kinds of relationships in terms of what our clients share with us, the things we can talk about, just even predominantly focusing on working with business owners, and being in the business coaching space, I’m never surprised at all about the personal, intimate things that people share with me about their lives, that really are not to do with their business and not about their marketing, their messaging, their financial management, their mindset. But it gets shared because of that trust that’s been created in the relationship. And I know that there are a lot of coaches out there that would have no idea what to do with the kind of things that can get  get bought to you.


Melissa Lapides  51:28

Have no idea what transference or countertransference is, which is such an important dynamic, when we’re talking about that kind of intimate and very personal relationship where you are being vulnerable with the coach, there is so much transference and countertransference, that could happen and projections that we need to be aware of as leaders as people that are letting people open vulnerably in a space with us. And this is the kind of stuff that we do explore in supervision and why I think also that it is so so necessary for coaches to be required to have supervision.


Shannon Dunn  52:11

Yeah, yeah. I feel I kind of know the answer to this, because of the way that you have initiated your Ethics for Coaching. But do you feel like there is a possibility that we can make this shift collectively to a more ethical coaching work?


Melissa Lapides  52:31

I think the next five years are going to be really transformative in the coaching industry. And I do see that laws will be in place eventually through the state and federal laws, and hopefully, in other countries as well.


Shannon Dunn  52:50

It’s not just that things have kind of happened first in the US. But in this space, I think coaching has been so prevalent in the North American market for such a long time, longer than other parts of the world. It’s not that the rest of us are behind. But we haven’t had this same history in terms of coaching as a way to work with people. So if you’re going to lead the way, I’m here for being part of it, and seeing what you can do to influence. Because again, the other thing that coaches can be anywhere in the world, like the digital nomad thing is such a huge thing as well still. I don’t think that’s going anywhere. 


Shannon Dunn  53:25

And we work with clients who are based in so many different parts of the world – another whole conversation on another day – but even being mindful of the different legalities, where your client is based and where your based could be very different in terms of what you have to provide in terms of a refund policy. So many things to look at. It’s a big complex thing. But you know, at least we’re making changes in that now. So I could talk to you all day about this, Melissa. But I’m going to get to some questions now to sort of bring us back into to getting close to a wrap up for today. So I’d love to know now, what role does leadership play in your life and business?


Melissa Lapides  54:05

Yeah, yeah, I think that I have learned a lot about being a leader in the last five or six years and I’ve been humbled to the core. And I believe that a true leader is humble in a lot of ways and that it does take this person-centered approach to be a really strong leader. And so, a lot of times the loudest person in the room actually isn’t the best leader. It’s the most observant and attuned person in the room that often makes the best leader and so for me, I’ve had to really get my butt kicked in a lot of ways to to get that lesson honed in on for good. 


Shannon Dunn  54:56

I love it. I also appreciate how the definition, say of leadership, from my perspective, and from what I observed is changing. And I think it’s for the better, as you said, it’s not just the loudest, most dominant, bossy, organized, whatever person in the space. And that also, there’s been a shift from leadership being an external thing about just leading others to also recognising that the space that I love to be in – self leadership. And I think that the quality of us as a leader externally, is a reflection of how we are connected to our own self leadership. Right?


Melissa Lapides  55:34

Absolutely. And I believe the person who makes a great leader, like you’re saying is the one that could stay emotionally regulated in the toughest situations and not really get knocked around. And even people that we look at as leaders that we think aren’t getting knocked around, oftentimes are. They’re leading from their trauma, from having to be validated by the external world. And so, I really like to see that shift in leadership.


Shannon Dunn  56:11

I think it’s got so much benefit, that’s just gonna keep rippling out positively for such a long time, hopefully, forever, which is great. So the next question I’d love to know your answer to is, how do you know when you’re thriving?


Melissa Lapides  56:23

I know what I’m thriving, because I’m at peace. That’s like my biggest marker of success and thriving in my life. And it never was. Like it never was prior to, I’d say, even a year or two ago, I didn’t think that was thriving, I didn’t realize that that’s where I was always wanting to go. And I thought it was, you know, relationship or money, or my business growing or, you know, being a well known woman or whatever it is. And that’s not it. None of that, was it. My thriving is completely equivalent to my level of peace internally and externally.


Shannon Dunn  57:03

Yeah, I love that. The answers to these questions have been so fabulous, because they’re so personalized, and yet this beautiful threads of, of, you know, synchronicity, woven through so many of the answers, which I love, and definitely a shift. Having talked about these topics for such a long time in my business in my work, I’ve definitely seen a shift, as you said, with regards to thriving away from status kind of measures like money and having the right relationship and house and family and all those kinds of things. And if I don’t have those I’m not a success, too. But how do I actually feel? You know, peace, content…


Melissa Lapides  57:36

Yeah, everything.


Shannon Dunn  57:39

So I am I have no doubt that people that are listening to us, if they’re not already following, you might be interested to know how they can connect with you. So where’s the easiest place for people to connect with you?


Melissa Lapides  57:49

Yeah, on Instagram. I’m @SafeSpaceInstitute. And my website is just my name. www.MelissaLapideslmft.com. LMFT. That’s licensed marriage and family therapist 

Shannon Dunn  58:03

Yeah. So we’ll make sure that those links are readily available for anyone who’s interested. And I know that you have on your website, a couple of incredible programs that are available. So people that might be interested in learning from you and your views of things you just tell us really quickly about those. I know I’ve seen two just because I’ve just had a look at literally yesterday to see what you had there.


Melissa Lapides  58:23

Yeah, so the new direction I’m going in is self paced classes where I’m not teaching live, they’re very accessible. And one of them is about working with your trauma around money. And really understanding how to work with that trauma as it comes up. The other one is called Trauma Free. And that’s about freeing yourself from the relationship that you have with your trauma. This is great for anybody that has that early childhood trauma and attachment wounding. It’s a very comprehensive class with a lot of work and self reflection. 


Melissa Lapides  59:0F

And the next one that I’m coming out with, any day now it’s about to go up, is the Trauma Informed Practitioner. And now that will be self paced class, a really accessible class for practitioners across the board. So not just for coaches, which is where I was geared before, but I saw a bigger need. So anybody this could be great for CEOs of any kind, managers, doctors, nurses, teachers, you name it, you work with humans. This is a fabulous program to take. 


Shannon Dunn  59:34

I’m so happy to hear that. We will make sure that the links to all of those are available when this goes live, because the episode will go live after that will be available, that new program so yeah. So to wrap this up for today, Melissa, I’d love to know what’s the final piece of wisdom through like your lens of expertise and everything we talked about today that you’d like to leave with those that are listening and you know the ambitious, ingenious souls that have tuned into us today. 


Melissa Lapides  1:00:00

I think something really important that pertains to everything that we’ve talked about, is really listen to the wisdom of your body. If you feel nervous about an investment, or about a relationship that you’re going to engage in, really listen to that instead of questioning it. And just think that you have anxiety or something’s wrong with you, or this fear is invalid, listen to that. And pay attention instead of questioning yourself and believing somebody else over your own body’s intuition.


Shannon Dunn  1:00:35

Amazing wisdom there. Again, there’s so many pieces of wisdom, we have mash them all together, and do a series of episodes where everyone can tune into these pieces of wisdom from our guests over this time. Yeah, it’s gonna be so good. You’ll be like, oh, yeah, I can imagine the journal would be quite full of notes, listening to.  


Melissa Lapides  1:00:56

Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate you so much for putting this together and really putting this out there.


Shannon Dunn  1:01:05

Yeah. Thank you. I you know, as I said earlier, I was so glad when you said yes. Because not everyone will say yes, when I reach out to them. And we’ve had a few chats, but not necessarily connected and being able to talk in this way. And I feel like you’re someone that can you trust your instincts, and I get it made sense. So I appreciate that. And we’ve got an incredible conversation with so many topics we talked about today to share with everybody. So I look forward to when this goes live. And you’ll be able to share it with your community and seeing how my community respond as well, which will be fantastic. 


Shannon Dunn  1:01:33

And listeners, if you have taken something away from today, please reach out to Melissa and myself and let us know, what resonated for you. If you’re someone that has been sitting in that shame, or some uncertainty about your feelings around past experiences with coaches, or other online service providers, I hope that today what we’ve shared with you will give you some some ways to move forward with that as well. So you don’t have to sit in that space. Or write yourself off from coaching ever again. 


Shannon Dunn  1:01:59

Know that there are plenty of incredible professional coaches who are I feel learning to practice more ethically all the time. And again, reach out to we’ll make sure the links to Ethics for Coaching are there as well. So if you want to get that guide, you can get that as a starting point and then stay connected via their newsletter and hear what’s going on. I know that the Townhall Catch ups that you’re doing Melissa, there in the middle of my night, so I probably won’t ever get there live at this point. But at the same time, to see that the you’re doing those and having those conversations and seeing the team involved in Ethics for Coaching all getting on board and sharing has been something that I’ve really appreciated from this perspective. So keep up that work. 


Melissa Lapides  1:02:43

If you’re on the email list, you’ll get the replays. 


Shannon Dunn  1:02:47

And one day, you never know, I will try to be there live so I can actually be part of the conversation which would be fabulous. Have that chance also to really stretch this to a global market which is so necessary for the benefit of all of us. So thank you again, Melissa. Thank you everyone for listening, wherever you are in the world. Have a fabulous day and remember that thriving is your birthright.

Thank you

Thanks for tuning into today’s episode. You are so valued and appreciated.


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