Amanda: Hi guys. Welcome back to the podcast.
Amanda: I'm Amanda.
Laura: I'm Laura.
Kendra: I'm Kendra.
Amanda: And I'm excited because today we have a special guest. You're going to get to meet our friend Richa Thapa, who is a psychiatrist. So first of all, Richa. Thank you for joining us. And we'd love for you to tell us a little bit about you.
Richa: Hi. Thank you all so much for having me. It's such an honor. I'm Richa Thapa, I’m a psychiatrist. And I, let's see, where do I even begin? I was born in Nepal, came to this country, like when I was eight months old and I had immigrant parents. So I kind of saw two worlds where it was like this immigrant life, my parents struggling and then also trying to just, you know, get used to like, you know, living here. So, my parents ended up going into medicine and so there was just kind of a lot of influence to go into medicine and so I became a doctor. I'm also really interested in the whole health perspective and you know what healing actually entails. I got my yoga teaching degree and now I'm also a Life Coach.
Laura: That's awesome. So tell us a little bit about how you came from psychiatry to coaching.
Richa: Oh, yes. So I feel like this was all meant to be. Basically, it all started, honestly, if I'm honest, I was burnt out. I was a burnt out psychiatrist physician. We were in the middle of the pandemic. We like literally our kids' daycare shuts down. I'm working from the VA seeing even more patients. We're not allowed to take a leave. So literally I'm at my wit's end and then I get diagnosed with breast cancer. I mean, it wasn't really at the appointment. It was more like, okay, go get a mammogram, yada, yada, yada. So anyway, starting 2021, I kind of had to just take a step back and reevaluate. I was really burnt out. I felt like I couldn't take care of anyone else's mental health before I could take care of my own. And just kind of started, you know, like resting, focusing on healing, doing research about like, nutrition for, you know, cancer and then nutrition for mood and kind of my biggest thing going through my cancer journey was, “I don't want to get depressed.” As a psychiatrist, I know what depression can do. I know what anxiety can do. And I know it would just have made everything worse. So I just kind of spent the year healing. I did all my treatments and I got into yoga. It was interesting because I think that was the first time I got introduced to the life coaching concept and we'll get into that later. But I got into yoga. I took a teacher training. A friend of mine from med school reached out to me, Amy Hay. And she was like, “Hey, my friend is looking for people to be, you know, coached. Do you want to do it?” And I'm like, “Yeah, I'll do anything. Like, why not?” I've been through a lot. So I'm just up for anything. So that's how I met Amanda. And I remember our first coaching session. It was about my mother. She produced this concept to me that blew my mind. It was like, you know, you can have an alternative viewpoint of your mother, you know, it doesn't have to be this way. It had been this way for so long. So it was just kind of like, it was like the beginning of a freedom that I didn't know existed. So then started doing coaching with Laura and Amanda. You know, we did your program, I learned so much. And then I just got hired and then I decided, you know, I want to be a life coach. I want to do this. This is, this is just, this is the missing piece that I think we don't have in medicine.
Amanda: So real talk. Our mutual friend, Annie was like, “Oh, if you need, this is when I'm in coach training and I needed, you know, practice clients. She's like, I'll find some people if you need and of course I'll coach anybody and everybody. And she's like, “It's my friend. She's a psychiatrist.” And I was like, “Oh God!” I was freaking out! I was like, what am I going to tell this girl? She's gonna think I'm a complete idiot and like an imposter and all of this sort of stuff, but it was so great. Then that will get us to you know, a little bit later for when what it does do well for and what it doesn't. But just so you know, I was having a heart attack our entire first meeting.
Richa: I have no idea you helped me so much. And I was just like, “Oh, wow!” That was like, that was amazing because it's so simple. Sometimes we make everything so much more complex.
Amanda: Well, and the thing is, when I took the attention off of myself and how much I was freaking out and gave you the space that you needed, then it all worked out. It was good.
Richa: Yeah. I mean, I wouldn't be here if it weren’t for you, I'm talking to you and then I actually had another girl from med school, Kathy Whaley. She reached out to me right after, you know, I had been, you know, in y'all's program. And then she's like, “Oh my God! I'm doing life coaching. It's amazing. It's saving my life.” I just felt like, oh my gosh, I have to do this, too many signs!
Laura: Because you're going to be fantastic. You're already fantastic.
Kendra: Thank you, Richa, so much. So far, your story is so inspiring and very fruitful for everyone listening. But from the perspective of a psychiatrist, what do you think is the appropriate person to do coaching versus someone that would probably be better suited seeking out psychiatric services?
Richa: If anyone's in intense crisis, like, you know, they're obviously they're suicidal, they're actively manic, actively psychotic. Probably not going to benefit from any type of therapy or coaching, like, you know, we're bringing out the big guns. So really people in like intense crisis. And even then for some people, you could argue, like they're just depressed and suicidal, you could introduce some coaching skills with them if you know that. But yeah, I would say anyone who's floridly psychotic or manic, and there's really not that many people, you know, who come willingly to the doctor when they're floridly manic or psychotic. So that's a good time not to use this.
Laura: We will not be using this in the emergency department.
Amanda: So kind of, as a corollary, what made you decide, you have all of this mental health experience and expertise, what made you decide to become a coach?
Richa: I was thinking about this because to me when you introduced life coaching to me. And I learned about the model and watched some of Brooke’s stuff, I was like, this is like cognitive behavior therapy light. It's like a simpler version. But to me, what I liked about it is it was so accessible. Like when you, like, when we do our residency training, we did a little bit of mindfulness. We did a little bit of therapy, but most of the time we were doing patient care and dealing with the crises. And so I didn't really have time looking back to focus on the therapies. Then when we did learn cognitive behavior therapy, it was just so fancy. It was like cognitive distortions, like, you know, names for every thought error, like reaction formation. It was just too fancy that it was hard to just kind of apply daily. So when I learned about all this life coaching, I was like, oh my God, this is like simple CBT that you can do anywhere. It's so accessible.
Amanda: I love that! That's a perfect summary that only you can give, you know, like we know what it is, but like you have the expertise and stuff to tease out the difference, you know, of what's different about it. So I love that. So what would you say about our podcast? It’s focused towards people in the medical profession, especially physicians. What would you say about anybody who was hesitant to try coaching?
Richa: I mean, I would say do it anyway, right? Like just deal with it and try it out. It's not going to hurt.
Amanda: Well, yeah, speaking of, so I don't know if you know, Richa, but there's been several randomized control trials now, actually two that came out this year. So if you want proof that it works for physicians, we now have four. The first one was the Mayo clinic, in 2019, and they were able to, in just six sessions, prove a statistically significant improvement in emotional exhaustion, burnout, resilience, and quality of life. The second one was in 2020 from McLean hospital, which is a Harvard affiliate. They were able to prove a statistically significant improvement in burnout, work engagement, psychological capital and job satisfaction. By the way, we will link to all of these articles. The important point about the McLean hospital study was that they did follow up at six months and that brief six session intervention still held up. It was long acting. Six months later, they still had the improvements. The next one that came out is actually this year, Stanford released their data and they were actually comparing four versus six sessions and actually had good success with even just four interventions of coaching. This was private coaching. They were able to show a statistically significant improvement in burnout, self-evaluation and sleep-related impairment. The very last one to come out is from some life coach school coaches that were doing group coaching with residents. So they were able to prove that group coaching was also successful for female residents in emotional exhaustion, imposter syndrome and self-compassion. So it's not just us feeling that it works. There's actually some legitimate data proving that it works.
Laura: Which is so exciting because I think we're going to start seeing this in our institutions much more.
Amanda: Well, did you guys see that Lorna Breen Act passed and I don't know what all that will entail, but that's, you know, Lorna Breen was an ER doc that trigger. I don't know what you say on podcasts, but trigger warning and alived herself towards the beginning of COVID and since then, there's been legislation that just passed the Lorna Breen Act to help with physician mental health.
Laura: Yeah. That's so long overdue. So I wish you guys could see this beautiful face and how she always has the most beautiful smile. She is just like a little light bulb over there. You're going to have a focus for your coaching. Do you want to talk about that a little bit and how we, how people can get in touch with you if they want some coaching from you?
Richa: Yes. So I call my coaching “wellness coaching.” I believe in like, you know, our wellbeing and there's multiple facets to it, but my love is self-confidence coaching, self-love coaching. I feel like if you can be your own friend and learn to just love yourself in your toughest times you can get through anything. That's kind of like the foundation, so yeah, self-love, wellness coaching.
Laura: That's awesome. I know at one point you talked about maybe speaking specifically to people undergoing treatment for cancer or people who are cancer survivors. Is that still going to be a focus for you too?
Richa: Always, always and forever. Those are my people, right? Like, yeah, I mean we've been through something so unique and especially being so young and coming out on the other side. It's like, oh, I'm an example of how, like you can get a really tough diagnosis and come out stronger. Yeah, any type of chronic illness, any type of cancer diagnoses. Whether you're in active treatment, whether you're in remission, whatever, I covered it all. You know, it just is what it is. So, yeah!
Laura: That's awesome. Yes. You were absolutely an example of what is possible. And so what is your website? Give us your website so that people can find you.
Richa: Okay. My website is richawellness.squarespace.com. First name, R I C H Awellness (one word).squarespace.com. And yeah, you can find me on there.
Laura: Perfect. Thank you so much for joining us Richa. I couldn't love you more. No, we couldn’t, we just adore you.
Richa: That was so much fun.
Kendra: Well, Richa, we are so glad to have you on today. What a special guest and what a special topic. We know that your business is going to grow. There's nothing better than talking to someone who's been there, done that. And you will also have so much to offer to us as physicians, but also to women and to cancer survivors, all the things. So, until next time, you are whole, you are a gift to medicine and the work you do matters.