Therapy mirrors life. In both, the possibilities are as limitless as success is (at least somewhat) unpredictable. Embracing the uncertainty by taking that first step marks your first therapeutic accomplishment. From there, a potentially new world awaits. One where where trust, safety, honesty, vulnerability, security, empowerment, authenticity, potential, intuition, inspiration, resilience, truth and change are not just words, but felt experience.
Originally from Long Island but with deep paternal southern roots, Nashville has always felt like home since licensed clinical social worker/psychotherapist Chris Hancock arrived, about a month after the 9-11 tragedy. Chris received a Bachelors in English from Clark University in 1992, and a Masters in Social Work (MSW) from New York University in 2000.
He notes that the years in between were spent as a recording and touring musician. From childhood dream to day jobs and small clubs, to a record contract and some big stages, it was a beautifully fraught time that showed him more about who he believes himself to be, who he’s not, and maybe too much about the commercialisation and commodification of the artistic process. In addition to being a crash course in interpersonal & group dynamics, it also helped shape his own view of change/growth as both inside job and co-creative alchemy.
Chris Hancock joins us to tell us about what fuelled his initial passion for wanting to help others shift from just managing stress to cultivating real fulfilment and tells us how he aims to helps us to maintain a more intentional, meaningful relationship with ourselves.
Hey Chris, can you introduce yourself to us?
Yes, thanks so much for this opportunity! I’m a licensed clinical social worker/psychotherapist with a private therapy and consulting service in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve been at it for 20 years now, which is hard to believe! I’ll get into more about what I do later, but I’m from Long Island, NY, I’m closing in on 50 (gulp), married 14 years, and have two adopted children from India, ages 14 and 16. They are, of course, the lights of my life.
I spent most of my childhood obsessed with music, and most of my twenties as an indie and major label recording artist. I played drums in a modern rock band. Since switching my life direction around 27, I’ve pursued avocational songwriting. Although it’s been quite a while since I’ve written anything, I released a record of my own material back in 2011.
Beyond all that, I’m a spiritual seeker, passionate about personal growth and human potential and the study of all things metaphysical/psychospiritual. Worth noting that my guilty pleasure is boxing; watching, following, and training, though I only take it as far as controlled sparring. No freestyle fighting for me. I leave that to the serious amateurs and pros.
Can you take us through your journey to where you are now?
I guess I bullet pointed it somewhat above, but what I believe might be of value to others about how I got to where I am can be summed up in one word. And that’s pain. I don’t say that to be a victim, or dramatic, nor am I comparing mine to anyone’s. I simply mean, it’s more than anything the pain that I experienced, mainly socially and emotionally growing up–and the facing of it through personal therapy and growth work—that’s greatly helped me manifest all of what I’ve managed to accomplish and sustain thus far. I was not the most resilient kid. I was sensitive, insecure, and riddled with shame which came into full bloom in my teen years.
Shame is a beast. But facing it with the help of incredible people, and personal spiritual work, has made all the difference. My self-compassion, confidence, and resilience were all alchemized out of the dust of my pain. And it’s a process that continues to this day.
How did you launch your coaching business?
I don’t call what I do coaching, because I’m first and foremost a trained, licensed psychotherapist. I still do mostly psychotherapy, but also a lot of consulting, which is more targeted, brief, and solution-focused work. (No plumbing the depths of the psyche there). I went out on my own into private practice in late 2006 after working in community mental health, psychiatry, and addictions settings since the start of my first field placement in 1998, during graduate school at New York University. I got some incredible experience working with severe and persistent mental illness, addictions, and a lot of childhood trauma. Since launching my own practice, I’ve never looked back. While not always easy, it’s a joy and a privilege to be entrusted with others inner most thoughts, feelings and struggles day to day. I feel truly inspired to do it, which is why I recently formally named my practice “Inspired Psychotherapy & Consulting.”
What fuelled your initial passion for wanting to help others shift from just managing stress to cultivating real fulfilment?
Historically, my interest came from my own personal journey. Wanting desperately to figure myself out, and why I found it so difficult to accept myself and connect to others deeply. From the onset of entering the psychology field, I was trained and practiced for a long time in such a way that focused a lot on the past and how it effects the present. This is of course important stuff to understand as we all have repeating patterns in our lives that come from unexamined experiences and conditioning of our past. It helped me personally a lot to do this work early on.
Recently I’ve become more acutely aware that talking about and talking through our past is not the only way to skin the cat, so to speak. Especially when it comes to trauma. We now know, through neuroscience advances, that rehashing past trauma simply keep it alive, and makes it worse. “what we focus on expands” is one way to say it. So, in the last few years I’ve been studying and training in energy psychology methods, and more “future-present” and solution-focused approaches. This helps me help others to more efficiently make the shift from staying stuck in stressful cycles of past-based living to creating a FUTURE that frees the PRESENT from the PAST, which is an idea I hacked from Dr. Joe Dispenza, (I think?!).
Can you tell us 3 tips to help motivate us to become the best most authentic version of yourself?
- Sure. In no particular order off the top of my head: Clear the energetic imprints of old trauma and enduring limiting beliefs (such as through modern psychology methods such as Psych-K or Ask & Receive),
- Meditate/pray/affirm/forgive (snuck those all into one),
- Move your body somehow someway regularly, and
Also, love as hard and deeply as you can. Shit, that’s four isn’t it? So ya got an extra there!
Can you tell us how you are helping us to maintain a more intentional, meaningful relationship with yourself, your work, and others?
That’s a little hard to encapsulate, because it’s really an evolving, unfolding process, and idiosyncratic to myself and the individual. But in general, it’s largely about my effort to become more awake, more conscious, and assist others in this same process. For some, it involves facing shame, and “shadow” work (See Carl Jung).
For others it’s about practicing radical honesty with self and others. It can also be about facing hard truths long denied or erecting the courage to leave something or someone that no longer serves. And still for others, it can be as simply as self-compassionately transcending the search for perfection, or a pattern of avoidance, procrastination, self-sabotage. All these things, and more. Truly knowing and living true to oneself is what I try to model, and champion in others.
What gives you both ultimate career satisfaction?
I’ll keep this one simple. Just getting to make a difference in peoples lives. Nothing beats that.
How do you define your own success?
On the practical level, by seeing enough people each week that the bills get paid, I can save for the future, and have enough time left over for my own self-care, growth, learning, time with family, friends and hobbies. That ever-elusive balance! When I get even close, I feel successful. But most importantly, again, what takes the cake is knowing my life’s work is about contributing to the growth of others. Hands down, that’s success.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
I’ll be honest, I’m not real sure! I’m brand new to this platform and have only had a little time to explore it before getting to these questions. But I’m all for any way to showcase unique people and their work, with the intention of inspiring others to come into their own, take life by the horns, and make it what you most want it to be. So, if that’s essentially what it is, then it means a lot to me, and especially to be included.
Finally, what are you working on throughout 2019?
Well, I’ll start with personally, then touch on the professional, although with what I do they certainly overlap some. On the personal level, as mentioned earlier, I’m approaching 50. And I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it ain’t wearing so well! Things have really snuck up on me. For one thing, my wife and I didn’t bring our girls home (from India) till they were 8 and 9. So I haven’t been a parent that long, and it’s like I woke up one day recently and they’re teenagers talking about college. And I’m nearly 50. (What?!). So, I’ve been having my crisis moments, and I’m in a little bit of a “dark night of soul” period.
I’m doing my best to fully inhabit this as a rite of passage and be present with myself. One realisation is that it’s time to start playing music again with others. This part of who I am has felt neglected for a little too long now. So I’m looking forward to that, as well as my wife and I doing some reflection, some healing, and stage setting for our third act together, so to speak. Professionally, I feel that I’m at the crest of my career now in my 21st year. I’m impassioned about the energy psychology methods I’m employing and the incredible and often fast results it produces for people.
I’m excited to continue focusing on working with people having spiritual crisis and non-ordinary experiences through my sub-specialty, Support for Extraordinary Experience (S.E.E.). This is where I assess, explore, and help people finding meaning and integration with things like near-death experiences, kundalini arousal, spiritual emergency, and parapsychological/paranormal events.
On this note, I’ll end with a bang. I was just given the opportunity to assist a Catholic Priest- a Rome trained and certified Exorcist- deliver a modern-day rite of exorcism for a client of mine plagued by inexplicable activity in her home for over a year now. How about that? Otherwise, my plan for the immediate future is the same as always. Live, love, learn, heal, grow, and forgive.