Cameron Wilson, from Melbourne, Australia, identifies himself as a child of the world. He started in hospitality first as a bartender and then worked his way up to a general manager. In 2014, his life took an unexpected turn when he was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer. After this crisis, and all he had to endure to be healed, he started to receive counselling at which point he realised a need for a career change. He went back to university and got a degree in counselling and life coaching. Cameron Wilson’s personal crisis led him to feel he could help other people cope while they were going through similar experiences. He shares his life story with Eileen McCormick.
Good Times2: Can you walk me through your process of counselling and life coaching?
Wilson: First I would like to get the background (of the person) gather whatever information I can on the history. I typically want to understand why this person wanted to seek help. I find that in the first session, people usually talk a million miles an hour because what they are sharing with me has been held on to for months or even years. It’s the first lethargic experience. Next I’d like to clarify what the issues are, as this helps to set goals they would like to work towards. It helps to set a clear path for what are we doing here.
Good Times2: What’s the difference between a life coach, a mentor and a spiritual coach?
Wilson: It comes down to what someone specialises in. A spiritual coach will come at things from a spiritual perspective. I personally label this a bit more “whho whhoo” coaching soul-based level. It’s a form of coaching that connects with spirits and that sort of thing. Mentoring is more for the business world. I have a healthy disrespect for the people who try to sell programmes as trainers for life coaching with no real experience or credentials.
Good Times2: Could you explain about crisis life coaching?
Wilson: Tony Robbins has linguistic programming questionnaires on crisis coaching – the industries have become so big now that you have to become specialised. Crises or situations or events can push anyone – if it’s beyond their ability to cope. Examples of this, typically, are unemployment, death, divorce etc. I chose crisis counseling because of what I went through fighting cancer. You can see my blog page where I share a 5-step strategy to help deal with a crisis. (www.cameronwilson.com.au/blog/crushing-the-crisis-short-film-the-5-steps-and-the-way-through)
Good Times2: Do you need to have a background in psychology to be a successful life coach?
Wilson: The field is a bit unregulated so sadly there are a lot of cowboys out there with no training. Without knowing what you are doing, you can make things worse for people. In Australia they are moving to regulate it but obviously in places like Cambodia, regulations are scant.
Good Times2: What are your core values?
Wilson: I want people to help themselves so that they can then help people in their community. I like and want to see people in my line of work offer free resources and content for people to use. Ideally, people can help themselves and do not need another person. However, not everyone can do it alone so they need a life coach. With this sentiment in mind, I don’t want to make money. I want to help people reach their goals.
Good Times2: What should someone look for in a life coach?
Wilson: You should check their credentials, qualifications, place of training etc. Testimonials from other clients are quite useful. The word-of-mouth from my previous clients are how I mostly go about getting new clients. Most life coaches should do at least one free session or consultation as this allows both coach and client to get a feel for working with each other. It’s important to understand the limitations in what you can do as a coach. For instance, someone who has been diagnosed as a schizophrenic needs different care than what most life coaches have been trained for. So one free session is sort of like a first date.
Good Times2: If someone in Cambodia wants to become a life coach what steps can they take?
Wilson: I personally don’t think I will be offering any training because as I said I don’t really love people who use life coaching to peddle the get-rich marketing schemes. Maybe after I finish my other projects I could put a short course together, but that’s somewhere down the line. Twice a month I have a free group session. There are online courses but they are too expensive for the average Cambodian or even expat for that matter. I think free resources on YouTube etc. are enough to get some basic understanding to apply to one’s self. But I would not recommend to start counseling others.
Good Times2: Why did you pick Cambodia to start a life coaching small businesses?
Wilson: I spent some time here and fell in love with the country and people, and I wanted to start my own retreat. This dream of mine will be starting soon but it will first be targeting expats. However, with some of the profits every couple of months I will host a free retreat for Cambodians. There is a lack of mental health services (in the country) and I think the way in which I go about in mental healing could really help. Exposing locals to life coaching will enable them to also take it back out into their own communities.
Good Times2: Are there differences on how you deal with different cultures when coaching?
Wilson: The free group session I hold are mixed. There are expats and Cambodians and they come to the group with different issues. But both groups will learn something from each other through their sharing of experiences. I see a lot of depression among Cambodians, especially among women. This is because their partners have drinking problems and refuse to get any work. I think different cultures have different reproductive roles. For Khmer women, when they see a large majority of other Khmer women going through similar marital issues they tend to say it’s normal and therefore express themselves differently. With Khmer men who do not have a job, they feel anxious in their reproductive role to provide money in order to take care of the family.
The majority of expats are in their mid-30s to 40s and experience a feeling of being directionless and not rooted in relationship issues. But both cultures have issues with substance abuse.
Good Times2: What free resources do you offer?
Wilson: I have a closed Facebook page/group with connected people in Cambodia which I share a lot of resources. I already have group sessions in Siem Reap. I plan to do the same from time to time in Phnom Penh. I want my resources to reach more people, especially the Cambodian community. Group chats can be useful and allow people to stay connected in real time, no matter where they are located.
Good Times2: Any last words you want to share?
Wilson: Don’t wait until you are completely overwhelmed before reaching out and asking for help. The sooner you get a life coach or counsellor on board, the sooner things can return to normal and there is no shame in asking for help. In fact, it is one of the bravest and smartest calls you can make. Feel free to reach out to me [email protected] I offer face-to-face sessions or live video chats, and one session is $50.