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Liberatory Coaching for People of Color (POC)
Why Coaching for POC?
"When people of color are together, there can be healing. We can reclaim parts of ourselves that have been repressed. We can redefine ourselves and support one another in embracing who we are." -Kelsey Blackwell
My individual coaching offering is specifically for self-identified people of color (POC). As a woman of color who has navigated predominantly white educational institutions and professional settings for most of my life, I have benefited tremendously from having the support of communities of color and a coach who is a woman of color to more fully live into my being, values and personal mission. Somatic coach, writer, and facilitator Kelsey Blackwell says, "When people of color are together, there can be healing. We can reclaim parts of ourselves that have been repressed. We can redefine ourselves and support one another in embracing who we are." (Why People of Color Need Spaces Without White People", The Arrow). I center people of color in my work for these very reasons.
About the Term "People of Color"
History
Limitations
My Work
History of the Term "People of Color"
Loretta Ross -- Black feminist academic, activist, and leader in the reproductive justice field -- breaks down the term "women of color" as a political designation that originated when a group of Black women developed and put forth a Black Women's Agenda at the National Women's Conference in 1977, prompted by the conference organizers' insufficient attention to the needs and experiences of minority women. When the Black Women's Agenda was put forth at the conference, other minority women of color wanted to be included as well and through negotiations the term "women of color" was created not as an ethnic or biological definition, but as a "solidarity definition, a commitment to work in collaboration with other oppressed women of color who have been minoritized" (Ross, "The Origin of the phrase 'Women of Color'").
Limitations of the Term "People of Color"
The term "people of color" can be limiting in that it lumps together the experiences and identities of all non-white folks into one category, when in actuality they are highly unique and diverse both based on racial identity as well as the multitude of other identities we each hold (gender, sexuality, class, immigration status, disability status, etc.). Oppression is experienced by marginalized groups in all of these categories and more in ways that are deeply harmful and unjust, and I don't seek to minimize the impact of these experiences in any way by not addressing them here. As a South Asian person working with other POC, I want to draw particular attention to how racial oppression is experienced differently and perpetuated within POC communities. In the United States, the genocide of Indigenous peoples and enslavement of Black people, and the compounding effects of many forms of structural oppression to this day that these two groups have faced mean there is a history of and ongoing race-based trauma within each of these populations that is unlike any other racial group in the United States. Colorism and anti-blackness are prevalent in POC communities and have often been used as a way to gain proximity to whiteness, and thus, power. Writer Janani articulates the limitation of the term POC in saying, "…even if [we have] a common experience of being racialized, we [don't] have a common racialized experience" ("What's Wrong with the Term 'Person of Color'", BGD).
My Own Work around Race and Identity
It is a part of my ongoing work to examine these mindsets, behaviors, histories, and current practices of racial injustice as they show up in me, my work, and my communities and actively disrupt and dismantle them. In my coaching practice, I commit to holding the unique intersectional identities of each of my coach partners with care, humility and respect for nuance. I work to continually hold awareness of my own privilege and experiences with oppression in an effort to minimize bias and power dynamics within coaching relationships.
Coaching FAQs
Check out these common questions about individual coaching and my responses below. Have a question about coaching that isn't answered here? Reach out and let me know!
Do I have to have a certain type of job title or level of seniority to work with a coach?
Absolutely not! Any person can work with a coach, regardless of their professional experience. Coaches are often used by folks in executive level positions at corporations and nonprofit organizations because coaching has become a normalized support for senior leaders and because coaching can often be expensive. However, the coaching approach and process is one that can work well for anyone who is interested in engaging in it. I offer sliding scale coaching services (more on that below) as a way to minimize the financial barrier to coaching that exists for many people and to broaden the scope of who and what coaching can be for.
What's the difference between what I'd talk about with a coach vs. what I'd talk to my therapist about?
You might actually talk to a coach and therapist about similar topics, but the key differences are in the approach they may take and the type of support they are trained to provide. Coaches often tend to be more oriented to the present and future, and therapists more oriented to the past and present. For example, if someone is experiencing feelings of stress and overwhelm at work…

  • A coach might focus on bringing awareness to those feelings to deepen understanding, supporting the coach partner to come into alignment between their inner and outer experiences around those feelings, and determining action that can be taken from that place of alignment.
  • A therapist might focus more on exploring the roots and origins of those feelings and reflecting on the impact they are having for the client today.

This is a very broad generalization, and of course this varies based on the type of therapy practiced, the training of the therapist/coach, as well as the personalized approach and style of the therapist/coach. Beyond this difference in orientation, the other main distinction between therapist and coach is that therapists are trained to offer diagnoses and treatment of mental health conditions and coaches are not. While coaches offer tools and practices that support folks in navigating challenging feelings and experiences, coaching certification programs do not train coaches in mental health interventions. Instead, coaches make referrals to trained mental health professionals if/when coach partners are indicating a need for that type of support and can work in partnership with therapists to ensure the safety and well-being of the coach partner is centered and properly supported.

As a coach, I also bring in practices from my training as a social worker, yoga teacher and mindfulness meditation practitioner to support my coach partners. My past experiences offering mental health services and working with my own therapists inform my understanding of how and when therapy may serve coach partners more effectively than I as a coach am able to at a given time. I have a wide network of therapists that I readily tap into to make referrals and support coach partners and have listed a few directories for seeking mental health support on my Resources page.
What would I even work with a coach on?
The possibilities are endless! Maybe something is feeling off and out of alignment in one or more areas of your life and you're wanting to address that feeling. Perhaps there are ideas or aspects of your identity and life that you'd like to explore more. Or maybe you have a goal in your life that you'd like support and push taking action toward. It's even possible that you're not quite sure what you'd do with the support of a coach yet, but something about this is calling to you. Sometimes we know something in our gut before we have the words for it — trust your intuition and explore it! You can read a few examples of what other folks have gotten from coaching here, or schedule a free exploratory call with me if you'd like to chat about what your potential coaching journey could look like.
What are the different types of coaching?
There are so many different terms used around coaching: life coach, career coach, leadership coach, executive coach...the list goes on! Some coaches focus on particular types of goals (e.g. career coaches support people in identifying and accessing different career paths), and some coaches focus on working with particular types of people (e.g. executive coaches work with senior leaders in organizations). None of these terms/categories that I was taught in my coaching certification program felt like a fit, and so the idea of liberatory coaching for people of color was born for me.
What is liberatory coaching*?
*Note: Queer Gender Non-Conforming (GNC) Afro-Indigenous artivist, facilitator, and healer ChE also uses the term "liberatory coaching." While this term initially arose for me as part of my coaching certification process, I found deep resonance in ChE's work and credit them for their work on this concept and creating beautiful offerings for creative radicals of color. Check out their work here!

The concept of liberation has been present in my healing journey and professional work for many years. The "liberatory" in liberatory coaching means tending toward liberation, which is freedom from oppression, discrimination, constraints, and/or limiting thoughts and behaviors. Author and educator Paulo Freire discussed the concept of liberatory pedagogy in framing education as "the practice of freedom, the means by which [people] deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world" (Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed). Liberatory coaching brings the practice of freedom into coaching relationships, leveraging tools for building critical consciousness, accessing our many sources of wisdom (somatic, ancestral, etc.), and creatively engaging with ourselves, each other, and the world around us. In working with people of color, I see and hold my coach partners' experiences with systems of oppression as they play out in their day-to-day lives as well as the immense possibility for transformation and freedom inherent within them. My coaching approach and my work more broadly centers the belief that liberation and radical freedom at the individual and collective levels is both necessary and possible, right now.
Why do you only work with people of color (POC)?
Check out the Coaching for People of Color page for more on this!
How do I know what type of coach is right for me?
Finding the right type of coach for you depends on what is most important to you. Are you interested in someone who has some level of shared life/professional experiences? Is cost a primary consideration in who you choose as a coach? What qualities in a coach will make you feel well-supported in being able to engage in the exploration and work that feels most relevant for you right now? When I sought out a coach, I was assessing fit based on three areas: shared values, identity, and approach. I was interested in someone who valued healing and liberation (which were and continue to be central aspects of my own life goals and purpose), someone who identified as a woman of color (which was important for me to feel seen and heard), and someone who would take a holistic approach (integrating wisdom from mind/body/spirit, not just focused on one arena of my life). I asked for referrals from someone who knew me well and read up on different coaches through their websites. Most coaches tend to offer free introductory sessions, which is a great opportunity to feel out potential "fit" through a conversation as well. When I found and spoke with the coach I ended up working with, I felt resonance with her words and energy. I felt comfortable opening up and asking for what I needed from her. I felt seen and heard for who I was, and I felt like she was invested in my journey. Finding the right coach can initially be like dating, and then committing to open and honest communication throughout the relationship. Feel free to schedule a free exploratory call with me to see if we might be a good fit! I am happy to make referrals to other coaches, and I also recommend taking a look at directories like this one to find a coach that feels like a strong fit for you.
How much does coaching cost?
Generally coaching can cost $75-200+ per hour, though some coaches offer pro bono services and reduced rate services. I offer coaching on a sliding scale basis, with a range of $20-100 per hour. Sliding scale means that my coach partners choose the fee amount that best aligns with what feels possible and generous for them, balancing any financial constraints with the level of value they place on this support for themselves. No income verification or financial information is required to select a fee level. Coach partners choose for themselves so that they can integrate coaching into their lives in a meaningful and sustainable way, no explanation needed. Find out more about my coaching packages here.

One of my spiritual homes, the East Bay Meditation Center, operates on a gift economics model that centers "the transformative values of abundance, trust, and connection" and relies on "joyful reciprocity" within the community. This model and these values are the inspiration and foundation for my own practice, as I seek ways to disrupt systems of oppression and center collective healing and liberation for communities of color.
Where and when does coaching take place?
As is the standard practice in the field, I primarily offer coaching by phone or video call. This allows for both coach partner and coach to readily make space for coaching in their lives without adding in the time and resource demands of travel. This also means that I as a coach can work with coach partners anywhere in the world, and it allows coach partners to more easily connect with a coach that is a strong fit for them with minimal logistical limitations. If in-person opportunities to connect are possible and desirable for my coach partners, we can arrange those through different coaching packages as well.
I'm interested! How can I get started?
Lovely! As a reminder, I only offer coaching for self-identified people of color and you can find out more about that here. If you are a white person seeking a coach, I'd recommend you check out this directory to find a coach that feels like a fit for you. If you are a person of color, check out the different coaching packages that I offer and use the links on that page to schedule an exploratory call, send me a note, or get started with coaching based on where you're at.
Coaching Packages & Fees
I offer a variety of individual coaching packages for people of color, which cater to different interests, needs, and preferences:
Drop-In Coaching
"I don't do commitment"
  • RECOMMENDED FOR: Folks who are new to coaching, not sure how it might fit into their lives, and not yet ready to make a multi-session commitment.
  • Option to try it out and get started right away!
  • 60 minute coaching sessions by video or phone
  • As many or as few sessions as desired by coach partner available for one full year
  • Easy online scheduling. Schedule your first session here!
  • Paid on sliding scale*: $20-100 per session
Standard Coaching Packages
"I want consistent structure"
  • RECOMMENDED FOR: Folks who are new or experienced with coaching and ready to integrate it as a regular part of their support system.
  • 60 minute coaching kickoff to establish goals and coaching relationship
  • 60 minute coaching sessions by video or phone
  • Predetermined number of sessions, ranging from 5-10 sessions per package
  • Easy online scheduling
  • Paid on sliding scale*: $20-100 per session
Custom Coaching Packages
"I have something else in mind"
  • RECOMMENDED FOR: Folks who are experienced with coaching and looking for customized offerings that uniquely fit their needs, schedules, and lives.
  • Customizable coaching structure and timeframe that works for you
  • In-person, video, and/or phone coaching sessions of a length that works for you
  • Option for guided personal retreats and other custom coaching elements
  • Schedule tailored to your needs
  • Custom pricing
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Sliding scale means that my coach partners choose the fee amount that best aligns with what feels possible and generous for them, balancing any financial constraints with the level of value they place on this support for themselves. No income verification or financial information is required to select a fee level. Coach partners choose for themselves so that they can integrate coaching into their lives in a meaningful and sustainable way, no explanation needed. Find out more about the cost of coaching in the Coaching FAQs section above.
Interested in learning more about a coaching package, or ready to get started?
I'd love to hear from you!
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© 2020 Meha Davé | This is Meha | Coaching with Meha
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