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Coach Spotlight: Dr. Eva Ruland on Conscious Change and Soul Collages

Eva holds an MS in theoretical engineering and a Ph.D. in East-West-Psychology (CIIS). Eva received her training as a co-active coach from the renowned Coaches Training Institute.
Margaretta Mitchell

Making a conscious choice to change as a person is easier said than done. A lifetime of habits, patterns, and rather fixed ways of perceiving and interacting with life can be difficult to overwrite. The chances of successfully changing, or being able to transform, requires the efforts of a person's left and right brain. To create a high degree of change may require the professional expertise of a skilled coach. One such coach is Eva Ruland, PhD who works with clients as a transformational coach and workshop leader in Berkeley and San Rafael. Ruland's versatility in her skills and offerings has reached individuals and groups both in person and via Skype. She describes in the interview below how she utilizes her tools to facilitate the change in her clients that they are looking for.

A lot of coaches are in the transformational space these days when it comes to their programming. How would you describe your approach to providing transformational workshops and coaching? What kinds of outcomes do you intend to deliver for your clients and anyone who works with you?

Lasting transformation is what everyone is hoping to achieve, and understandably so. If you feel stuck, discontented, overwhelmed, unfulfilled, or alienated, you don't just want to feel a little bit better, or feel better for only a few days of the week. You want real and lasting transformation. And that is what I want for my clients. My goal is to let my clients surpass what they felt possible for themselves. I am about moving them from "why is my life not great?" or "my life sucks" to "Wow! I am excited and delighted with my life. Who would have thought that this is possible!"

The only way to achieve this kind of powerful transformation is to include the unconscious—where all our programming resides—in the coaching. That's where miracles can happen. My approach to transformation is to unknot energy that is bound up in the unconscious and liberate it so that it is available for projects my clients consciously choose. The energy that was holding the old programming in place can then fuel into all the things that nurture them.

In my workshops and groups I also want participants to have a wow! experience. I always offer some technique, usually a guided visualization, to get participants out of their thinking mode and into the deeper strata of being. The conscious mind is only the tip of the psychic iceberg, so to speak. By offering techniques to access the unconscious I open up a tremendous potential for real understanding of self and for transformation.

In order to bring your programs and coaching to more people you have opened a practice in San Rafael which concentrates on individual work. How does your 1:1 work differ from the workshops you offer?

In my workshops I can do a lot, but I cannot give much specific attention to each participant's individual needs. In workshops, you get a space and a structure to begin the process of transformation. SoulCollage® and Unfolding into Joy are great starting points for this journey. Afterwards, you can go home and do some of the deepening yourself. But, if you want to move into your bliss more quickly, you need individualized attention. Think of it this way: We can look into a mirror and see our front. But in order to see our back we need two mirrors. Plus, for most of us, when we look into the mirror, we see ourselves through a habitual filter, for example that of being super critical (too fat, too skinny, too old, too (fill in for yourself), not enough (fill in for yourself).

Coaching provides a mirror that is less contorted. It directs your awareness to places that you are familiar with but unaware of. In coaching I help my clients to see themselves for who they are and for who they can be. I connect them with their potential and their soul-longing and help them step toward realizing it.

In a workshop, you might get a glimpse of your soul-longing. But to move from living a life exerting a lot of energy to be quasi satisfied, to unfolding your gifts with ease and receiving what nurtures you is quite a journey. From 'here' to 'there' is usually a quantum leap. Oftentimes workshop participants do have key insights. Some have said that a workshop with me has changed their lives. I am very proud of that. But, when i work with individuals in a coaching environment where all focus is on them, I can do even more. One of my coaching clients put it nicely when she said, "With Eva as my coach I have manifested more than I ever expected."

Describe for me how you work individually with a client? What is your approach to assessing how and where to tackle the areas of their lives that they want to focus on in the context of coaching with you?

Our lives are complex and intricate systems. Everything relates to everything else. That is what can make change difficult and frustrating, and give people the sense of being overwhelmed. But it is also a wonderful blessing. It allows for more than one possible approach to change.

In the beginning of the coaching relationship the client and i discuss coaching goals. I offer assessing tools that provide a language for what is going on. This makes it easier to look at your life from different angles, and clarifies which life areas are unsatisfactory and where you have developed strength. When it comes to deciding where to start, I make suggestions, but the client is the one who decides. I promote empowerment, and it starts with decision making—the client is the agent as well as the focus of the coaching process.

As the coach, I am the catalyst and the guide. However, I respect my clients as the ultimate expert on what they want and don't want. Metaphorically speaking, I am the tour guide through the transformation process, and I know the territory of psyche well. I point out markers in the landscape, suggest possible shortcuts, and make sure that the client stays on course. I offer course correction when necessary, and mark milestones in the process. I will suggest a path, but there is never only one way to the goal. If the client is not comfortable with my first suggestion I offer others until the client feels comfortable with a path. From that moment on the coaching unfolds its power and gently prods the client to unfold all of her beauty and become aware of it.

Tell me about your professional background and how it led to you becoming the kind of coach you are? How did you develop your niche so to speak?

My professional background is diverse and my path to coaching has been serpentine. Along that path, I acquired a host of skills, work experience, and explored several professional environments, spanning from science to design, in roles as diverse as being an employee to being a solopreneur. On my path I learned a lot about motivation and change, two central topics of coaching.

My first degree is in Verfahrenstechnik, loosely translated from German as methods of engineering. After receiving my MA I was invited to work at a new agency for technology transfer at the TU Berlin in Germany. That was a great opportunity to hone and develop many skills. I learned how to organize seminars, write reports, collect, organize, and publish information, and I got my feet wet consulting in a technology environment.

When my contract ended after 3 years i moved into a diametrically opposite direction. Following a childhood dream I became a fashion designer. I took out a big loan, rented a store, bought fabric, and started to design. It was very exciting—and very demanding. My illustrious career as a fashion designer ended after 3 years. I had to acknowledge that i had run myself solidly down doing 5 jobs simultaneously: I was working as designer, pattern maker, production supervisor, sales person, and marketing chief, plus doing excursions into choreography for fashion shows.

When I had 3 potentially life-threatening accidents within one week, I realized that I could not continue to operate under this amount of pressure. There was only one thing to do, bring my tenure as a fashion designer to an end. The rise and fall of my fashion empire—as I now jokingly call it—taught me a thing or two about the power and limitations of will, and about the devastation that follows the sense of defeat.

My next career was in adult education. I became a top performing instructor in a school training adults for a career change. I was hired to teach mathematics, but quickly expanded to also teaching interpersonal communication skills. I found I enjoyed this new subject matter and began working as a freelance consultant on the side. But, in the Berlin of the mid 1990s, getting hired in the area of interpersonal communication skills was not easy without a degree in psychology. That is how I came to study psychology and move from Germany to the US. I received a PhD in East-West Psychology in 2002 from CIIS in San Francisco.

All of my former careers have helped me become a successful coach. It is not only studied skills that matter—experience in different environments and in a variety of functions has added a great deal to my understanding of the workspace and the psyche. My clients appreciate the breadth of my background and my solid education. They also like that i am gentle and compassionate yet also structured and dynamic.

Most of my clients are women 40s-60s who want to live a fuller, more satisfying life while lowering the pressure they experience from the outside. They come to me for various reasons:

  • stress overload
  • unsatisfying working situation
  • rethinking work while unemployed
  • unhappy marriage
  • recovering from a break-up
  • needing support breaking out of a marriage or a long-term relationship

These reasons all funnel into the overarching theme of redefining themselves in the world. I am a perfect fit for them since i have experienced so many situations first-hand. They trust me because they sense that i have the tools and the free spirit that will help them.

Describe for me how your upcoming group program “Unfolding Into Joy” which is aimed at a female audience is designed to develop skills in self-esteem and empowerment? What is empowerment to you and how does it look in a person’s life?

To this day, many girls grow up being drilled to look nice and be sweet. When you assume you have to work at looking attractive and focus on pleasing people in order to be liked, chances are that you negate your true nature. You might not even know it. Feminine empowerment to me means being in touch with your true nature and trusting that it is okay to show your authentic self to the world. It means that you don't sacrifice what you want in order to be liked or considered feminine. It means that there is no real or perceived other who has power over you. You dare to be yourself, and doing so brings out all your natural beauty and gifts. Women who are in their natural power radiate and exude a sense of self that is utterly attractive.

Unfolding Into Joy is designed to encourage authentic self-expression. Participants will have a chance to experience themselves in a variety of ways. In the safe container of the group they will be able to explore their authentic self by looking at aspects that traditionally are risky to express: their strength, their weaknesses, and their will.

In an environment in which kindness and compassion are cultivated, participants will be guided in self-exploration and engage in sharing in dyads and in front of the group. They will experience themselves taking risks and being safe doing so. I want everyone in the group to feel that it is okay to be seen. As a next step, participants will practice speaking their truth deliberately. Empowerment arises out of practicing these components. I will use a mix of modalities, among them short lectures, sharing, self-exploration, guided visualizations, collage, energy work, and ritual.

“Unfolding Into Joy” also is about leaving old patterns behind and stepping into new, better ones. How do you address breaking old habits and patterns and replacing them with new one that actually help a person enjoy a better life? How do you teach people to reinforce the new patterns?

As with most things, it takes practice to achieve mastery when it comes to inhabiting new patterns. In Unfolding Into Joy I will offer an entire orchestra of powerful tools to engage participants on all levels. We will apply conscious tools, use awareness, and dive into the unconscious. Throughout the course I will offer guided visualizations to center participants in themselves. I want them to expand their sense of self. That is one part of the reprogramming.

For more targeted healing, participants will engage in unraveling personal myths, beliefs they hold about themselves. Typically, these are the result of childhood circumstances. Often the personal myth is a way of processing emotional hurt. The good news is that when there is a pain pattern involved, deep healing can happen instantaneously when the fear related to the original pain is set free. We will also crack some behavioral patterns. I will guide participants to understand self-defeating patterns so that they arrive at recognizing their own self-undermining habits. Wherever quantum leap insights occur I will make sure to offer healing techniques that cement the new insight.

It's true that you can only do so much in a 9 week program. That's why there will be an opportunity to sign up for an advanced group. In group 1, I will cover important theoretical information and lead participants to have great insights. But to reinforce new patterns it takes repetition and time. That is why I will offer group 2 in which we will continue practicing supportive techniques plus and add new ones. Those who will continue on level 2 will certainly have a better chance at deepening the change and making it last. Even if you just sign up for the intro group, this group is the next best choice after coaching. You'll get tremendous value at a great price point.

What is the advantage of utilizing your creative and artistic skills and its components in the kind of transformational work you do?

Without my artistic side I would not have experimented with collage the way I have, and I would not have put together coaching and collage-making. I came across collage after the death of my mother. I was going through a tough time, feeling uprooted and a bit lost. Collage helped me redefine myself. This was such a profound experience that friends suggested that I share the process with others. I created a 4 step process that makes it possible for participants to leave their chatty everyday minds out and began to offer collage workshops. Over time I noticed that it is easier to cover more unconscious territory when limiting the size of the paste board. I went smaller and now use the 5 x8 SoulCollage format.

For the last 20 years I have paid close attention to the clues the unconscious sends. As a result, I am in touch with my intuition and I bring that into my coaching and workshop practice. Being intuitive is a huge plus in all of what I do. In my private coaching practice I can tune into what is happening for the client, and i can find and suggest the right tools for them more easily. In my workshops and group work, the same is true. When I connect with people intuitively I have a much better chance at understanding their needs. Being intuitive adds fairy dust to working with techniques. :)

One of your skills sets is in the SoulCollage process. Could you describe what this is, how it works, and the benefits you have observed when applying it to clients in your own work?

As C.G.Jung said, images are the language of the unconscious. SoulCollage® is a process in which we connect with the unconscious through images which we collage together into cards, roughly the size of a postcard. In a next step we access the message of the card by engaging with it from within the images. We step into the images and speak their truth. This process represents a pathway into the soul.

When coaching clients use SoulCollage® it speeds up the coaching process. Through the cards they become aware of what is going on in their unconscious. The cards mirror their pain and their joy, and they allow the client to see that clearly. The client becomes more aware and that is helpful for the coaching. SoulCollage® also provides the opportunity to process what comes up in the coaching. It works both ways. SoulCollage® enriches the coaching process and speeds up implementing deep change.

Tell me more about iBlossom and the home study programs available from you for people who are not local to the Bay Area.

iBlossom offers programs to help people blossom and flourish. Currently, iBlossom offers 2 home study programs: Change from Within and Tools for Conscious Change.

Change from Within is a 30 day program that helps you tap into your unconscious, the place that governs most of who we are and how we act in the world. The program is a gentle approach to transformation that will help you dissolve negative feelings and frustration, and guide you toward more clarity and joy. Over time the program will restore you to a sense of "I can" and inner peace. It provides guided visualizations to connect you with (1) your true center, (2) your vision of the future, and (3) your inner magician. All you need to do is listen to the audio files, typically one a day, and take 5 minutes to think about your day and fill in the daily notes. The tools are super easy to use. The investment level is small at $99 and the benefits are huge.

The second program, Tools for Conscious Change, engages your thinking mode and provides you with tools for a systematic approach to change. It works well for people who like to analyze and understand everything they do. To make sure you get from here to there, it includes self-evaluating tools, a guided journey into your future, sets of coaching questions that will help you formulate realistic action-steps, sheets to identify and deal with self-sabotaging habits, and charts to keep track of your progress. The investment level is small at $89. Or, get both program and support change on all levels. The combo package is $159.

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