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Sunday, February 8, 2015

California BBS Investigation of my Life Coaching Practice for PTSD

Are you meeting a challenging time in your life and figuring out what the best thing to do is?  Are you at extremes - having the best of times and the worst of times?  If so, maybe my recent story can help you.

It was the best of times.  I had finally healed after all the work I had done for 3 years and life was really beginning to open up again.  Little did I know what could have been the worst of times was brewing.  Last year someone reported me to the California State Board of Behavioral Sciences; they had "received information indicating you may be advertising in a manner which is false, misleading, or deceptive" and that "These statements may lead the public to believe that you are licensed to practice therapy."  The Board requested information about my Life Coaching practice for PTSD, depression, and trauma.  

It came as a surprise.  Nowhere in any of my advertising or written work had I pretended to be a licensed therapist or psychologist, and I make it very clear to all clients who I work with I am a life coach.  I had spent the good part of 3 years healing myself, developing my program, testing it out to see what worked and what didn't, and putting together what I believe is one of the best, most comprehensive, holistically-based programs out there to bring healing and transformation from soul distress.  A lot of blood, sweat, and tears were spent.  Months of wondering if I was ever going to feel good again, or if life was ever going to be worth living another day.  The deep resounding cry wailing from within clamored for a path to be given me to reclaim my life, and in so doing, show others how they might be able to do it as well.  There were many dark days and sleepless nights filled with hopelessness and despair of a man dying to be born again and given a second chance to live.  

I kept going.  I poured my whole heart and soul into finding a way out of the excruciating pain and suffering I was crippled by from a severe case of complex PTSD.  I never quit.  I never gave up.  And, step by step, with every tear drop, I climbed out of that hell I was in.  Then, at the moment of my greatest success, when I had just been vetted by the military on the legitimacy of my program (see the letter below) and given the stamp of approval, I received the letter from the Board.  It was crushing.  The Board had mailed it to the wrong address and this was a second request, which was mailed to me fortuitously by Michelle Gazeley, who owns the office space Face-to-Face in Redondo Beach.  She's the owner of that office and would kindly let me use it to meet with clients when I needed to.  She mailed it to my home address just in time for me to respond to it.  

"Meeting the Challenge", that was my father's motto for his business, and those words echoed in my mind as I was being asked to meet the greatest challenge to my work and it's integrity.  I submitted to the Board a detailed letter along with my flyers, pamphlets, and my entire program.  I didn't want to hide anything.  After a very intense weekend, I successfully mailed it off in time to meet the Board's deadline.  A month passed before I heard back from the Board.  It was a month filled with self-doubt, sadness, and insecurity of the the unknown.  I kept working - I continued meeting with clients and building my practice;  I attended the LA Pro Bono Fair and offered my Life Coaching services to the community at large; I attended the monthly meeting with the LA Veterans Collaborative; I submitted my application for the level 2 training in January 2015 with Soldier's Heart; I applied to graduate school at Burlington College, Vermont; I continued to do my work with the Mindful Warrior Project in bring mindfulness practices to vets on Skid Row and helped train clinicians at Didi Hirsch on how to incorporate mindfulness into their work.  Finally, on November 3rd, the letter arrived from the Board.  I remember taking a deep breath as I opened the letter to see what the verdict would be.

Below is the exchange in it's entirety, the request for information, my response, and the Board's response.  I share this with all of you because it is my intention to be clear, authentic, and transparent to all who come across me and my work.

The Board cleared me.  Here's a direct quote from their letter:
"After a thorough review of the information obtained during our investigation, along with the response you submitted regarding your current advertising practices, prove that you have corrected the matter.  Accordingly, the Board is closing the case."
The Board recognized my work.

What do I hope you take from my sharing of this story?  I want you to know you too can be clear, authentic, and transparent, and not to give up hope.  Sometimes in our greatest challenges we discover how strong we really are.  We are able to meet it with a clarity and strength we did not know we had and conquer a fear we didn't think we were capable of overcoming.  When we are tested, we must meet the challenge with courage and fearlessness, believing in our hearts what we know to be the truth of who we are, what we stand for, and what we came here to do.  I hope this inspires you to meet whatever challenges you may be facing in your own life.  
These are the original letters' photographed.  I apologize in advance if it is difficult to read.  

The Request for Information:

My response:

The Board's response:

Charlie Pacello is a PTSD, Depression, and Healing Trauma Recovery Expert and Life Coach, a former US Air Force Lieutenant, and creator of the program, 'Lt. Pacello's Life Training Program.'  He can be reached by visiting his website at