From Therapist to Burnout Coach: Striving to Break the Hustle Culture for Parents and High Achievers
Abbey Sangmeister is the Founder, Coach, and Therapist at Evolving Whole. Abbey graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010 with a MS.Ed. in School and Mental Health Counseling. Against all odds, she recently became a Single Mom By Choice through IVF. Abbey believes in making the impossible possible — for herself and with her clients. She is passionate about helping people design and achieve the life of their dreams by staying WHOLE without grinding and hustling.
In this article, Abbey shares her perspective on the difference between coaching and therapy, and how she helps her clients go from feeling burned out and disempowered to embracing all the possibilities life has to offer from a place of balance and inner peace.
Having been a therapist for over 13 years, I transitioned into the coaching world a few years ago to reach a wider audience. However, I faced challenges because coaching lacks a regulatory board, making it open to anyone without formal training. As someone invested in education, I hesitated to identify as a coach due to the stigma of selling out for financial gain. I take great pride in my hard work, having earned my degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and the extensive hours of supervision and experience I have accumulated over the years.
I love being a therapist! Transitioning into the coaching world happened organically and was well-considered. I had clients reaching out to me nationally and internationally wanting to work with me. As a therapist, I could only work with clients in the state of New Jersey where I held my license. I would offer these clients a free consultation because I know the task of reaching out and finding a therapist can be daunting. I wanted to celebrate them taking the first step to changing their lives and if I could I would refer them to therapists I networked with that would be a good fit. During these consultations, I found people reaching out did not necessarily need therapy. They were looking for support on current challenges and for help in clearing the path to their next chapter or goals. They were not looking to do a deep dive into past traumas or events. They were not presenting with a mental health diagnosis or they were not reaching out to me to focus on that. Some were in therapy for anxiety and depression but wanted someone who would help them move the needle forward on a specific goal or stuckness they were experiencing. A few presented with stress, anxiety and depression but while speaking with them it was linked to burnout rather than clinical in nature.
These clients excited me in a different way. They found me but they also helped me to uncover my larger dream. My clinical approach included my Evolving Whole method which I created after years of research, education and experience. I believed I needed to work with those who are reaching out as it matched my ambition to help more people. My passion is to end hustle culture! That's right. You do not need to hustle and grind to be successful. Instead, it results in a life devoid of fulfillment and overwhelmed by burnout.
I now love being a coach!! I can bring my education and expertise of being a licensed therapist to a larger platform. Coaching allows me to bring in stories from my life and others to inspire along with building community and connection with my clients as needed.
My approach is to educate on the Evolving Whole method which helps clients identify when they are HALF or WHOLE. That is a foundational step before you can move forward and make healthy decisions. Creating an ideal calendar is a big part of the process so the client is not overwhelmed with daily tasks or events, can weed out what is truly important to them and to their goals, and has the time and space to work on these goals in a clear, grounded manner. The tools I teach work as a client levels up into the next chapter of their life along with facilitating that leveling up. I want clients to know that the impossible is possible. I also want people to live their lives now and not wait till retirement.
I mentioned that being a coach allows me to share personal stories and bring more humanity to my sessions. Not that I go into detail because the session time is about my clients, but a part of my approach is to believe that anyone can make the impossible possible with the right set of tools and support. I embody this throughout various stages in my life especially in my most recent. I am now a Single Mom by Choice to a beautiful, smart and determined 11 months old. Against many odds, I went through IVF to become a mom. I have many roles and titles, Therapist, Coach, Entrepreneur, Adventurer but my favorite title is MOM. The Evolving Whole method is not only for professionals and high achievers but also for parents. Parents I work with heal and prevent burnout. They enjoy the time with their child(ren), find themselves being present, lack those feelings of rushing around and overwhelm.
Success without Burnout: The Evolving Whole Method
My tips for success are to create that schedule by asking yourself:
What is a priority?
What are non-negotiables?
Who else can help support?
Have I scheduled self care time for myself?
Have I created time free of distraction with my child?
Once you have answered these questions, schedule those times. Look for support from family and friends. Support also might come in hiring someone to grocery shop, clean or run other errands so you can engage in self care or that time with your child. When I say schedule, I mean to schedule it and stick to it like you are scheduling the most important meeting of your life. Each one of those times, you approach that way.
Incorporate self care with other activities especially with your child. Yes, self care does not need to be alone! When your child sees you doing these or is engaged with you, you are teaching them healthy skills for their future. Take them on a nature walk. It’s easy and free.
Say NO! You will be invited to events, meetings, and family affairs. It is okay to say NO if they drain your battery. When you say NO, say it with confidence. Don’t over explain or a but. Say NO and move on.
Remember your mental, emotional and physical health is your wealth. Prioritize that and watch all the other areas of your life excel. Invest in coaching and the returns will be tenfold.