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Highly Sensitive Religious Educator Coaching Group

Registration now open for Fall 2024!

For religious educators who identify as “highly sensitive” and want to craft ways of serving that honor your intuitive, tender, and wise souls.

If you’re a highly sensitive religious educator, your gifts of empathy, intuition, and creativity are incredibly powerful tools for your work. But working in a congregation can take a real toll on you, with its constant, varied demands, conflicts, and emergencies.

Your gifts for “reading the room” and mirroring other people’s energy probably make you great at leading, teaching, and inspiring young people and volunteers. But that important work takes a lot of energy. Without ways of recharging, you may find yourself depleted over time.

On Sunday mornings, you’re pulled in a million different directions: looking for a last-minute volunteer when one of the childcare workers calls in sick, greeting new families, helping a new teacher find the art supplies–not to mention giving high fives and big smiles to the kids as they arrive. Most days, it’s fun! But it’s also a whirlwind, all those different energies and needs coming at you.  

And congregational events and parties, where your job is to work the room and personally connect with tons of people? You’re probably very good at it, but it’s exhausting. Maybe, like me, you sometimes need to slip away from the crowd and hide out in the restroom for a few minutes, just to get some time alone and decompress.

Then there’s all the conflict in the congregations you serve. Especially in the last few years, sometimes it seems like all you do is mediate conflicts between angry people. And sometimes the conflict is about you! It can leave you so wrung-out, hurt, and discouraged. Even though you know intellectually that you shouldn’t take it personally, your heart and body still get hurt. So much so that you may be wondering if you can even stay in this vocation you love.

Because of your high sensitivity, a lot of the standard training and advice about working in congregations may not work for you.

But if you don’t understand what it means to be highly sensitive, you might think you are the problem.

During my ministerial internship, I discovered that I couldn’t work the 6- or 7-day weeks I saw my colleagues pulling—my body literally couldn’t handle it. So, early on, I established a rhythm of working 5-day weeks that really suited me. But for a long time it felt like a guilty secret that I needed to hide from my harder-working colleagues, lest I be judged for slacking off.

I also struggled with the advice my mentors gave me not to take criticism and conflict personally. I thought it was great advice—I just couldn’t seem to do it! Serving in a particularly high-conflict ministry setting exacerbated my tendencies toward anxiety, insomnia, and other health challenges that lasted for years. For a long time, I felt like it must be my fault for not handling the pressures of ministry more effectively.

Then I learned about high sensitivity and it was like a light switch turning on—suddenly, everything about me made sense! There was a whole constellation of qualities that sounded exactly like me…and for the first time, I heard experts saying:

Those qualities are gifts our world needs, not a problem to be fixed!

Not sure if you’re a highly sensitive person? Take this quick & reliable assessment created by Dr. Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person.

Being a highly sensitive religious educator doesn’t have to be so hard.

You can learn ways of honoring yourself as a highly sensitive person that will make a real difference in your felt experience of your work. You can get clear on what you need to thrive. You can decide to make changes in how you work and how you think about your work. And you can ask the congregation you serve for their support. Even subtle, small changes can have a big positive impact on the quality of your life.

For example, you might decide to create some practices for recovering after Sunday mornings, or a big meeting, or responding to an unexpected emergency. What that looks like exactly will be unique to you!

For me, I’ve discovered that doing an energetic clearing after I get home really helps. And then, checking in with my intuition about what else I need, whether it’s a nap or a fizzy soda or getting an easy admin task done, and doing that, whatever it is. Your answers might be different—but you can learn what works best for you, and do that, whatever it is.

That’s what this coaching group is all about—helping you find exactly what works for you and your situation, and supporting you as you do exactly that!

So how does it work?

In the Highly Sensitive Religious Educator Coaching Group, we’ll meet online twice a month for 3 months, to support each other in:

  • Gaining clarity in what you need to thrive as a highly sensitive religious educator.
  • Making changes in your habitual work practices so you can get our needs met.

The first time we meet, we’ll spend some time getting to know each other and exploring what being highly sensitive means to each of us.

Before that first meeting, I’ll have asked you to read a brief article on high sensitivity as a springboard for our conversation. We’ll talk about your hopes for the group, including particular topics you’d like to explore, and what it would mean to you to really be thriving in your setting. Together as a group, we’ll create a rough plan for the topics we want to focus on throughout our time together, so that it’s customized to the needs of the group.

Toward the end of our first meeting, I’ll invite you to commit to at least one thing you’d like to learn about, or start doing, or change in your work over the next couple of weeks, so that you can start to see some results right away.

After that, each time we meet, you’ll have the chance to:

  • Check in briefly about how things are going in your life and your work.
  • Share the progress you’ve made on the commitments you made at the last meeting.
  • Reflect on what you personally would like to accomplish during the meeting.
  • Explore different facets of serving as a highly sensitive religious educator, in keeping with the needs and interests of the group.
  • Decide on the next actions you want to try out for yourself before the next group meeting.

As a group member, you’ll be expected to:

  • Participate in each meeting.
  • Hold in confidence your fellow group members’ stories and plans.
  • Commit to experimenting with new ideas and practices in between meetings.
  • Support the rest of the group, and receive their support in return, by asking open questions, sharing observations and perspectives, and celebrating each other’s successes.

By the end of this 3-month group, you’ll gain:

  • Greater understanding and appreciation for your gifts as a highly sensitive religious educator.

  • Practical tools to help you hone in on the pain points you’re experiencing in your work, so you can get clearer on what needs changing.

  • Custom strategies tailored to your unique needs, so you can thrive at work, not just survive.

  • A close-knit community of highly sensitive colleagues to support you as you experiment with how to make your working life really work for you.

  • Energy, inspiration, and fresh ideas that emerge as the group learns together.

  • Techniques for coaching yourself that you can use long after the group ends.

quotes

I especially appreciated being with a group of peers where the feeling was, “We all had similar struggles, we’re all trying to figure it out.” And then, we could strategize together about how to respond when things come up. I will continue to stay connected with these new people!

–REV. LISA PERRY-WOOD, HIGHLY SENSITIVE CLERGY COACHING GROUP MEMBER

My background

Laura Horton-Ludwig

I served Unitarian Universalist congregations for 18 years, with the majority of that time in challenging afterpastor settings. Today, I’m passionate about helping fellow highly sensitive religious professionals claim their gifts and find ways of doing ministry that really work for them.

To that work, I bring 8 years of coaching experience, first as a UUMA peer coach and now as a professional life coach. My work as a spiritual director deeply influences my coaching style; I believe silence and deep listening are powerful tools to help clients discover who they are and how they are called to live out their gifts.

Logistics

The Highly Sensitive Religious Educator Group meets online, twice a month for 3 months.

Registration is now open for September 2024!

If you’re interested in joining the group and/or exploring other ways to get support as a highly sensitive religious educator, let’s talk!

The group will be limited to 6 people plus me, so everyone can get lots of airtime and personal attention.

All dates and times will be set before the group begins, based on group members’ availability.

The standard fee to join the group is $375, which includes:

  • 6 group coaching meetings
  • Support by email and phone in between meetings

I’m also holding two places in the group for people without professional expense funds at a reduced fee of $250.

If the cost is a stretch for you, I strongly encourage you to explore denominational sources of funding. Unitarian Universalist religious educators can apply for a Religious Education Continuing Education Grant from the UUA. Grants of up to $500 are available for religious educators engaged in professional development.

How to get started

If you’re feeling a big, juicy “yes” at this point, or at least a strong “maybe,” set up a free Zoom call with me today.

During this call, we’ll get to explore how things are going with you as a religious educator right now. You’ll be able to experience what it’s like to work with me, and ask any questions on your mind. And we’ll both get to discover whether this group is a good fit for you right now.

There is no commitment or obligation. Whether we decide to work together or not, my goal is for you to find greater clarity and hope about your situation, your needs, and what will support your flourishing right now.  I look forward to talking with you soon!

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