Coach Rae, CPLC, CCRC, CDRC, APSATS-CPC
My name is Coach Rae, and I am utterly, hopelessly, head-over-heels in love . . . with my job.
I work full-time as a betrayal trauma recovery coach, with advanced training in couples relationships, divorce recovery and sex addiction induced trauma. Within this field, I combine 15 years of personal and professional experience, “down in the trenches” with other women, reeling and healing together from the impact of sexual betrayal.
As a writer and a coach, I've dedicated my career exclusively to women just like US: women who encounter “S” issues (infidelity, pornography, secrets and/or sex addiction) in the men we know and love.
No, this isn't easy work. But do you want to know the truth of it? When push comes to shove, the beauty of hope, healing and recovery always (eventually) outweighs the heartbreak of our most horrific discoveries.
Which brings me to YOU. Without a doubt, beautiful women, you are the heart and soul of my coaching practice. You never cease to amaze and humble me, beginning with how bravely you invite me into your stories. Together, we disempower your darkest fears, negotiate the release of your heaviest burdens, grieve your most unjust and undeserved losses, and breathe through your most torrential, most liberating tears.
And as we do? I get to witness something that inspires me to wake up tomorrow and do it all over again: I get to witness your quest to make this nightmare mean something.
And that, dear sisters, is how love conquers all.
Personal Roots, Professional Branches
15 years ago ago, I survived a traumatic divorce following my first husband’s online sexual escapades, infidelity and abandonment. In the years since then, I've spent the entirety of my current marriage (ten years and counting) recovering alongside my second husband, a guy who's addicted to internet porn.
Through the loss of my first marriage, I've developed an intense (and growing) sensitivity to women whose relationships DON’T survive—women who heal alone in the aftermath of relationships mortally terminated by sexual betrayal. Through the struggles of my second marriage, I've discovered a deep and passionate empathy for women whose relationships DO survive (even one day at a time)—women who heal in close proximity to the broken men who've so brutally wounded us.
In my capacity as a specialist within this field, there's no single question I hear more frequently than this one: "Should I stay, or should I go?" By combining my personal and professional experience (including input from the hundreds of women I've known, supported and coached during these past 15 years), here's what I've concluded:
There's self-love, self-sacrifice and post-traumatic growth involved in BOTH scenarios.
This conclusion is what fuels my conviction that healing requires us, as women, to exercise equal measures of guts and grace, regardless of our relationship status, on any given day. And that's precisely why I chose to specialize in both couples relationships and divorce recovery; it empowers me to promise my clients, "I'm equipped to support YOU, no matter which direction you embrace for yourself and your future." It's a vision initially informed by my own two marriages, deepened by exposure to my clients' collective experiences, and secured by my professional training, supervision and certifications.
Bottom line? I can't promise you (or any woman) that your relationship will survive the trauma of sexual betrayal. That's a disservice in which I refuse to participate. Instead, what I CAN promise is that YOU will survive—and that when your path becomes unbearably difficult (which at some point, it inevitably will), I will have your back. I'll support you as you impress yourself with your own capacity to make tough decisions, and I’ll witness your growing ability to take meaningful actions on your own behalf.
So, Why Am I Coaching?
The basic answer is really quite simple: I coach because I’m DONE sitting on the sidelines, watching women struggle to get their own lives back. I’ve taken LOTS of formal coach training (see my list of credentials below)—and it’s that education that qualifies me to coach in a professional capacity. That training is what equips me, but it isn’t what drives me. From my deepest, most passionate place, I do this work because I’ve lived it AND because I believe in it. By seeking support from others, I have gotten MY own life back, and that’s the greatest testament I can possibly offer to you. As a betrayal trauma recovery coach, I’m committed to provide passionate AND qualified support to my clients—inviting you to focus on getting your own life back, providing an invitation of hope and help for your future.
What’s My Role As Your Betrayal Trauma Recovery COACH?
When I coach women through the process of healing from betrayal trauma, my job is to champion you in meeting your needs, goals and priorities, whatever those may be.
Sometimes, a woman seeks coaching support during the process of divorcing her sex addict husband. Other times, she wants tools and resources to help her stay safely within a relationship riddled with infidelity.
As your coach, it is never my job to make that decision on your behalf (though I can help you make it), and it’s not my role to devalue your decisions, no matter what those decisions might be. My job is to help you clarify, communicate and strategize your next steps. And it's my job to hold simultaneously, on your behalf, both your long term (big picture) perspectives AND your short term (play-by-play) challenges. As you trust me to maintain this balance, you become free to engage the process, as organically as possible. Which brings us to the next question...
What’s Your Role As My Betrayal Trauma Recovery CLIENT?
Years ago, while receiving a deep tissue massage, my physical therapist gave me one critically important task to perform during my session. That task was “to breathe." She could do a lot to heal my body, she explained, but breathing was one job she couldn't do for me, even if I begged her to do so.
I often think of that conversation within the context of my coaching relationships. As a client, I ask you to enter each coaching session with at least one clear topic, issue or challenge in mind. This provides an "agenda" for our time together, and it's your baseline invitation "to breathe" into your own healing process. Your agenda can vary widely from session to session, based upon your ever-evolving experiences. But beneath those variations, one fact remains constant: I rely upon YOU to communicate what's important to you.
This highlights something else I love about coaching, as its own healing modality. In coaching, our work together is an equal partnership: one wherein I provide expertise about this world of betrayal trauma (I know the playing field, and I know the playbook), while you provide expertise about yourself, your history and your relationships (you know the players, and you call the plays).
Bottom line? At its essence, the process of betrayal trauma recovery coaching is all about you: it’s about your needs, your convictions, your priorities and your process. I’m committed to hold space for you as my client, space that honors your progress and facilitates your journey in whichever direction YOU choose to go.
What Are Some Of The Common Themes Women Address In Betrayal Trauma Recovery Coaching?
Even though every woman is beautifully and independently unique, there are a few consistent themes my clients often raise within our coaching sessions. Here are a few of those frequently-asked questions and challenges. Do any of them resonate with you?
- How can I understand happening within my life and relationship? Can you help me to discern the difference between facts I know and factors I don’t?
- Is (fill in the blank) “normal” for a sex addict or porn addict? What does recovery from these addictions actually look like?
- How do I protect myself: physically, emotionally, sexually, occupationally, spiritually and financially?
- Are my needs reasonable? Are they realistic? How can I actually get those needs met?
- How can I strengthen my voice within my relationships?
- If I stay with my guy, does that mean I'm a doormat? If I leave him, does that mean I’m a failure?
- What are healthy boundaries? Can you help me understand them, establish them and enforce them?
- Can I ever regain my sense of intuition? Can I ever again rely upon my own gut instincts? What will it take for me to trust myself in the future?
- I can’t bear the idea of being duped again! How can I protect myself against denial, deception, manipulation or gaslighting?
- How do I cope with all of these triggers? How can I tolerate intense emotions like fear, pain, anger and anxiety?
- I feel as if someone or something has died. How do I grieve a relationship that’s still in existence? What does grief look like for women healing from sexual betrayal?
- Is it okay to question my former ideas about sex, intimacy and womanhood? What if I no longer believe the same things I once did?
- How do I measure and validate my progress, when most of this seems so impossible to quantify?
- I hear a lot about “self-care.” What does that actually mean? How does caring for myself benefit me (and my family) in the long run? How can I incorporate self-care into my routine, when I’m already spread too thin as it is?
- What resources exist to help me understand sex addiction, betrayal trauma and relationships? What if I can’t afford things like coaching, therapy or inpatient treatment?
- What about acceptance, forgiveness and moving on? Are those things even possible? Desirable? Realistic? Does forgiving him put me at risk for future betrayal?
- How do I build a new vision for my own life—either with or without my partner?
- WHO AM I beyond this experience of betrayal trauma, anyway? Have I lost the old me? Do I want her back? Or can I start over from scratch?
What Do I Mean When I Promise To Provide You With Trauma-Sensitive & Trauma-Informed Coaching?
Our human experience of betrayal trauma is incredibly complicated; Those of us who work within this field take that reality VERY seriously. As an APSATS trained, supervised and certified partner coach, I subscribe to a critically high standard for sensitive and ethical client care. It's an approach that's deeply theoretical, but it's also meaningfully practical, tangible and understandable.
When you hire me as your betrayal trauma recovery coach, here’s how I exercise trauma-sensitive and trauma-informed client care:
- I will never blame you for your partner’s compulsive sexual behavior.
- I will never label you as codependent, co-addicted, or co-enabling.
- I will respect you as someone who loves a sick person, not as someone who is sick simply because you love him.
- I’ll never hold you responsible for healing your partner’s compulsive sexual behavior.
- I’ll never expect you to sacrifice YOUR wellbeing (physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, psychological, sexual, financial, relational, vocational) to facilitate HIS recovery.
- I will support you as someone who’s been caught in the crossfire of your partner’s harmful behavior.
- I will suggest healthy resources to help you understand infidelity, pornography, secrets and sex addiction—for the purpose of processing how those things impact YOU, not for the primary goal of supporting your guy.
- I’ll help you discern what “healthy choices” look like within this context of your “new normal.”
- When it comes to healing the layers of trauma you've experienced due to sexual betrayal, I'll make sure you are well connected to educational, spiritual, and clinical sources for therapeutic support when needed.
How Does The Process Actually Work? What Can I Expect To Get From My Coaching Sessions With You?
As my client, I invite you enter our relationship ready to work (it isn’t easy), ready to play (we will laugh, I promise!) and ready to make some very real progress toward healing from your betrayal trauma.
As your coach, I enter our relationship prepared to support you (you are not alone), prepared to champion you (we’ve both trained for this!) and prepared to help you recognize your progress—especially at your most critical, decision-making junctures.
As we work together, here are ten ways I promise to meet you in every session, exactly where you’re at, no matter what:
- I will listen to you—not to judge you, but to understand you. I believe you deserve to be heard.
- I will validate you. Your experiences are legitimate, and your feelings deserve to be meaningfully addressed.
- I will emphasize the importance of self-care: It’s a full-time job that only you can do.
- I will help you clarify your own internal convictions—yours, not mine nor anybody else’s.
- I will motivate, champion and compel you. That means, I’ll hold you to your own highest standards.
- I will urge you to establish an effective and accessible support network, one that meets your needs, first and foremost.
- I will ask you “the tough questions.” I will invite you to practice gut-level honesty with me.
- I will expose you to a broad spectrum of tools and resources, prompting you to discover which suit you best.
- I will encourage you to be yourself. I believe that sometimes, you don’t need to “do” anything. You don’t need to play a particular role, wear a specific label, nor conquer a long-looming task. Sometimes, I’ve learned from personal experience, you simply need a measure of time, space and safety to just let yourself “be.”
- I will remind you, as often as necessary, that you can get your own life back.
Betrayal Trauma & Me (My Personal Story)
In 1997, I married my best friend and childhood sweetheart. We were young, but we were passionately committed. We’d grown up together in the same small, conservative, faith-based community, one wherein marriage was the most God-honoring plan either of us could envision. Our wedding was the happiest celebration of our lives—and it showed. Photos from that day feature us both beaming proudly, basking within the beauty, holiness and promise of our vows.
I loved that guy with all my heart. I loved him while he was impressively successful, during the Y2K-era tech bubble. I loved him when he lost that job and sank into an unprecedented depression. I loved him while I worked to support us, while he struggled to start his own web development firm, and while he spent every waking moment glued to his computer screens. And even though I knew that our marriage was stressed to the max, nothing prepared me for what happened next.
In March 2002, upon my return home from a three-week business trip, my husband announced that he wanted a divorce. Just. Like. That. He’d fallen in love with a woman he’d met on the internet, and he’d decided to leave me to begin an entirely new life with her.
There are no words big enough to describe how my world fell apart that day. I know this sounds melodramatic, but I honestly thought I might die from the pain of it. At that point in my life, divorce was my worst nightmare, one that I honestly never believed could happen to me.
As one might expect, I experienced the requisite feelings of betrayal, abandonment and personal loss. But what caught me off guard—what I didn’t anticipate, even as I began to accept the inevitability of our divorce itself—was the traumatic process of slowly uncovering my husband’s hidden sexual life. Several months of staggered discoveries served to compound my original wave of shock and trauma, introducing me to his highly compartmentalized psychosexual reality, one that seemed (at the time) utterly incomprehensible.
I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say, I’d never known that such a synthesis of sex, abuse and degradation existed—nor that my sweet, moral, boy-next-door husband could possibly act, engage and live within that world.
At that point in my life, I was brave (nothing to lose) and well-intentioned (no time like the present, right?), so I threw myself headlong into “healing,” as fully as I knew and understood it.
My efforts were meaningful and measurably effective, yet they were also (I now recognize) woefully incomplete. With the help of an amazing personal support system, I survived my divorce and succeeded in resolving some of the issues I’d carried INTO that relationship. What I didn't have was the help of a professional, someone who understood the impact of sexual betrayal—and without that piece of the puzzle, I couldn't even conceptualize (much less heal from) the trauma I carried OUT of that marriage.
Fast forward a few years. I emerged into life as a cautious-yet-confident single woman, thrilled for a "second chance” at life and love. I engaged my next serious romance older and wiser, with different needs, expectations and priorities. I'd dated enough to learn what I didn’t want in a long-term relationship, so when I chose my new partner, I successfully avoided a number of key triggers and causes for concern. My new guy was decidedly more direct and transparent about his struggles with sexual integrity, and after all of the secrets that exploded my first marriage, his offer of transparency was both deeply appealing and profoundly reassuring.
For better (and for worse), my second marriage began on a decidedly different note. My new husband had also survived the loss of his first love (his wife died from brain cancer shortly before we met), and neither of us expected that our future would be easy. We entertained no fantasies that marriage would be trouble-free, and we committed that when things got tough (not if), we would pursue whatever kind of professional support we needed to survive.
It didn’t take long. In record time, sexual betrayal once again threatened to implode my most intimate, most precious relationship—and even though my new husband's behaviors were notably different than those I’d experienced within my first marriage, I found myself sucked into an horrific (yet keenly familiar) emotional vortex. Sparks from his secretive sexual activity ignited (then exploded) my own ticking time bomb—it both triggered and worsened the unresolved betrayal trauma I’d carried for years within my still-wounded soul.
As the result, I still suffer (and I’m still healing!) from the overt symptoms of quondam post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as the more covert symptoms of chronic complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD).
This time, I had a husband who stuck around for the hard conversations. To my surprise, he responded with willingness to seek help for the pornography addiction that had haunted him for decades. Together, he and I reached out for support, desperate to avoid the breakdown of our beautiful-but-struggling romance.
The powerful part of this story—and the reason I consider it a legitimate part of my professional biography—is the fact that my husband and I have found help, both independently and together. We've connected with a network of knowledgeable professionals (therapists, coaches and other mental health professionals), as well as various non-professional and peer-support communities. Our support teams never labeled us, nor put us in a box; they didn’t dictate our decisions, nor tell us what to do. Instead, they gave us tools to heal ourselves and to repair our relationship, offering us a powerful combination of help and hope. In other words, they gave our relationship a fighting chance.
My Vision for You
When it comes to this world of sexual betrayal, here’s a key fact that I cannot ignore: few women make it through life unaffected by these “S” issues. For the most part, we keep that stuff to ourselves, isolating from even our closest friends and family. We aren’t always sure how to handle these situations, but we tend to acquire tons of emotional baggage about men, sex and relationships.
I know (firsthand) how heavy those burdens of shame and secrecy get, and I know how quickly they morph into a soul-sick way of life. As a woman who cares, I wish that I could prevent the pain of sexual betrayal from touching your life altogether. As a betrayal trauma recovery coach, I strive to do the next best thing: I work you to help you sort through your emotions, pick up the pieces and figure out what you want to do next. I’ve chosen to work exclusively within this field of specialization, specifically because it’s the area that most closely integrates my personal experience and professional expertise.
If any of this strikes an internal chord with you, I invite you to be brave! Perhaps it’s time to risk being vulnerable, to share about your own encounters with sexual betrayal—for the sake of your own healing, wellbeing and peace of mind. My proverbial door is always open, and I’m willing to discuss “that stuff” with you at any point. I’ve worked with countless women facing sexual betrayal trauma, so your reality won’t shock me. In fact, your story is likely more common than you realize.
In closing, I’ll leave you with three thoughts about betrayal trauma recovery:
- If you’re in “that spot,” you are NOT alone! You’re actually in the company of many others, including some of the most beautiful, intelligent, spiritual and successful women you’ll ever meet.
- No matter what you’re facing, your feelings are important. Your emotional needs are valid, and your experience is legitimate.
- The concept of “healing” is NOT an empty promise; it’s actually a very possible, very practical and very attainable reality.
And as you consider those three things… I’m here to help.
So, What Do All Those Letters Mean?
I honestly have minimal ego involved in my professional credentials! That said, I have invested years (and a small financial fortune), to acquire them. While most of my clients hire me based upon my personal story, experience or perspectives, many also appreciate the increased sense of safety they draw from my professional qualifications.
In that spirit of increased safety (a priceless gift within this world of betrayal trauma), here are my credentials and professional affiliations:
- The Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists: Certified Partner Coach (APSATS-CPC). I’m deeply grateful to have been trained, supervised and certified by Dr. Barbara Steffens, president of The Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists, and co-author of Your Sexually Addicted Spouse. As an APSATS Certified Partner Coach (CPC), I’m equipped to coach using APSATS' signature Multidimensional Partners Trauma Model (or MPT-M). Through APSATS, I maintain a very active referral network of practicing coaches, clinicians, researchers and clergy members, allowing me to collaborate with a brilliant team of experts who specialize in this evolving field of sex addiction and betrayal trauma. (Click here to read my article, Fifteen Facts about APSATS Coaches: Who, What and Why?)
- Impact Coaching Academy: Certified Professional Life Coach (CPLC), Certified Couples Relationship Coach (CCRC) and Certified Divorce Recovery Coach (CDRC). Impact Coaching Academy (ICA) offers a unique modular program, one that’s fully accredited by the International Coach Federation. Through ICA’s Life Coach Foundations program, I secured my basic training as a Certified Professional Life Coach (CPLC). Later, through ICA’s curricular add-on programs, I deepened my coaching proficiency, securing two more credentials as an ICA Certified Couples Relationship Coach (CCRC) and Certified Divorce Recovery Coach (CDRC). Within my field of practice, I’ve successfully integrated all three of these complimentary programs, creating one cohesive, solid and broad-spectrum foundation for the work I do with women in every stage of relationships.
- International Coach Federation: Associate Certified Coach (ICF-ACC). The International Coach Federation (ICF) is a widely recognized non-profit organization, seeking "to advance the art, science and practice of professional coaching.” ICF is the largest governing body for professional coaches around the world, granting credentials based upon verification of accredited training, mentor coaching and client coaching hours. An ICF credential isn’t easy to get, so I’m grateful to have added this one to my professional repertoire!
Sometimes, It's The Little Things...
I’m a woman of passion, and I’m a woman of faith. I’m in my late-thirties (though I feel much older!) and my life is somewhat unconventional. But honestly, that suits me perfectly. I’m creative and expressive, an artist by skill and a writer at heart. Because of issues related to my physical health, I don’t have children of my own, and I'm genuinely okay with that—though I can’t imagine life without my husband’s six granddaughters, nor without my brother’s two fast-growing sons. I grew up in the Midwest, then spent two years living and working in the Middle East, before moving to Southern California in 2006. In my capacity as a coach, I travel frequently, speaking at conferences, leading women’s retreats, and working “from the road" while visiting family who live out-of-state. I’m a highly-sensitive introvert by nature (my happy place is curled up in bed, either knitting, coloring or watching a movie), though I’ve come to discover the irreplaceable value of interacting with other smart and soulful women. My favorite color in the world is green (any shade will do), and I've never met a pizza that I didn't like. My lifelong goal is to “be still and know”—it’s such a huge vision for my life, in fact, that those four words are written in ginormous letters (no joke) across the wall of my coaching office.