Women In Wellness: Hilary Truong On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Listen more, talk less. When I ask mothers and daughters what they need from each other, without fail they say “for her to listen to me”. As women we have a desire to be heard because most often we’re not listened to enough. We weren’t given permission to have a voice. So when we do have a chance to talk, we want to be heard. If you can do just one thing for each other it would be to listen.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Hilary Truong.
Hilary Truong is The Mother-Daughter Dynamics Coach. When she realized she was helping girl after girl in her private therapy practice, struggling with her well intentioned mother she knew there was a real problem that needed a solution. Now Hilary is a sought after speaker, private coach and world class expert on mother-daughter dynamics. Hilary’s mission is to reach 100,000 mothers and daughters in 2022 through education, healing and empowerment. She is leading a mother-daughter revolution because we deserve more from and with each other, but in order to do this we have to understand the truth about our dynamics. Enjoy your relationship, feel truly supported and understood while relaxing into the loving connection you’ve always wanted.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Thanks for having me. I feel like my back story begins long before I became a therapist, because the truth is I’ve always been a deep thinker. I was curious about people, studying from afar and attempting to ‘figure them out’. I love helping people and hearing their stories so it was only natural that I made a career out of listening and healing. My deep well of empathy grew from my own experiences with mental health and relationship struggles. I come to this work honestly, having struggled with my mother as an adolescent girl with failed attempts to work through it until I was a mother myself.
After 15 years in my successful private therapy practice, I realized I was watching girl after girl struggle with her well -intentioned mother and needed to change my approach. Even though they carried so much pain, they would not let their mother into the therapy room. Doors shutting mothers out in therapy and at home. And if I couldn’t change this, who could? Since I worked with hundreds of teen girls I could see how these dynamics affected families, no matter age, race, finance or education status and this was the real problem that needed to be solved. Why did mothers and daughters have so much conflict? Why did everyone accept that this was bound to happen? Even as a trained family therapist, I never learned the intricacies of this relationship because it’s not being taught.
As a human who does not accept the status quo, I became a woman on a mission. I went in search of the truth and discovered my true passion. I needed to give mothers and daughters a fighting chance at enjoying a fulfilling relationship, because they deserved it whether they realized it or not. Now I’m a sought after speaker, private coach and expert on healing mother-daughter dynamics and writing the next chapter in my mother-daughter story.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
On my very first day in private practice I welcomed a mother and 14 year old daughter into my new office. I had just finished an intense family and play therapy training program and was a mix of anxious and excited to try out my new skills. They came in and sat down side by side on my couch. At that time I only had a loveseat but my guess is, if I had another piece of furniture one of them would have opted to sit across the room. The energy was tense and I even in my nativity I sensed a real dislike between them. The mother began by telling me about the current and past struggles, her daughter acts out, is mean and disrupts the family. The daughter sat arms crossed, eyes rolling and most likely feeling totally unloved. After some time of them going back and forth accusing each other of bad behavior, the mother excused herself from the room, most likely feeling like it was more of the same. As soon I began talking with the daughter she burst into tears, indeed she felt unloved, misunderstood and blamed for more than was within her control. As the years would go by I would see more and more of this dynamic, not knowing that there were real reasons why this mother and daughter battled. It was more than teenage woes, it was a mother and daughter who lacked a real connection that could carry them through this new stage in their relationship. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time but this being my first client and doing my absolute best to help this girl sparked my passion!
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I started in a group therapy practice and I was the youngest by 10 years, brand new out of grad school. I specialized in children and families so I had a special set of skills that no one else had and I wish I embraced that more. I could have spoken up more, because I had good ideas of how that practice could have had a warmer presence. But they were the only therapy practice in town so they didn’t have to, people came and stayed because there was no one else. This didn’t feel like a service based model to me. I had a few situations where I held boundaries with clients and other practitioners didn’t agree with me. One yelled at me, insisted I changed my decision and the other came into my locked office when I wasn’t there to take back books and toys she had gifted me when I first joined. I stayed silent, cried privately and pushed on. My biggest regret is not approaching them directly to explain myself and hold them accountable. I let therapists behave badly and not be the listeners are trained to be. After I soon left the practice to open my own practice, it would take time before I truly found my voice but it was a lesson I would never forget. Simply because you’re a trained therapist doesn’t mean you are perfect, we are all human and need to work on our “stuff”. My own therapy and coaching throughout my life has grounded me, I am no better than anyone else, we are all in this together.
Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
My vision to change the mother-daughter narrative for future generations of daughters.
I believe we all have the power to rewrite our relationship story.
I believe in a world where girls know and embrace their true selves. Without question.
I believe in a world where mothers reject the pressure to be and do it all.
I believe in a world where daughters feel heard and accepted for nothing other than being true to themselves.
I wholly support female empowerment, freedom and inclusivity.
I hold hope, heal hearts and change lives and make relationship dreams come true.
In 2022 I have a goal to impact 100,000 women through story, education, healing and connection. The ripple effect of this will be impact generations of mothers and daughters.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- Listen more, talk less. When I ask mothers and daughters what they need from each other, without fail they say “for her to listen to me”. As women we have a desire to be heard because most often we’re not listened to enough. We weren’t given permission to have a voice. So when we do have a chance to talk, we want to be heard. If you can do just one thing for each other it would be to listen.
- Think back to when you were your daughter’s age and consider what you most needed from your mother. Give your daughter this. If you don’t know how to, learn. What we didn’t receive as children is the hardest to provide for our children. It is well worth the effort to strengthen this skill so that you do not repeat history.
- Consider whether your relationship could be better and start talking about it. In my experience, there is a woman in every room who has pain points with her mother. There is nothing we want more than to be a “good” mother or “good” daughter. We’ve learned as women there is honor in being nice, saying yes and going with the flow. With this comes pressure. Dialogue with your mother or daughter about what this pressure feels like. You both will have felt it and either succumbed to the pressure or pushed back against it. Those that have rejected this pressure I call my Rebel Mothers and Daughters. We need one in every family in order to change the narrative for future daughters.
- Reflect on the strengths that the women in your family passed down. Keep passing those down, telling the stories of women in the family and allow future daughters to learn from and be inspired by them. Keeping their spirit alive creates your powerful mother-daughter legacy.
- You are your daughter’s greatest teacher. For most this can feel like pressure, to me this feels like a gift. Through nurturing, balance and presence we have the most beautiful opportunity to change the future for girls and women. One daughter at a time.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I have started a movement, it is my mother-daughter revolution. It’s so important that mothers and daughters have the right information at their fingertips. They need to know that they aren’t destined to fight, struggle or battle our entire lives. We can in fact, have a healthy, connected and strong relationship throughout our lives.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1. It’s ok to change your mind. What you set out to do may change and that is perfectly normal. Listen to your intuition about what is best for you and go after it!
2. You can be the best therapist in the world but you can’t neglect the details. Too many therapists wing the business side of private practice, this is starting to change with more people teaching this but when I began I bought a binder and CD to learn about paperwork, consent, finances, etc. Needless to say, it wasn’t enough. If you didn’t go to school for accounting, marketing, or managing, learn! Or hire good people to handle that for it so you can focus on serving your clients really well.
3. Where I would be only 15 years after starting my career in counseling. When I was working as an HIV counselor in grad school, I remember dreaming of seeing a handful of clients in my floral and white office. I planned all the decorating details, estimated the cost, how much I would need to make in order to make it happen and pictured myself enjoying that life at 50. I am thrilled to say I surpassed that dream that felt so far away only ten years later.
4. Think about the change you want to create in the world you will approach your work with a greater purpose. You will settle for less, make more aligned choices and lead your life with that same purpose.
5. You don’t have too many ideas. You aren’t just a dreamer, you are a doer. Those ideas will turn to gold when you give yourself permission to share them. All those moments of self-doubt, insecurity, fear and dread are worth the growth that emerges. I blazed my own trail in business after listening to story after story and knowing there must be a better way for mothers and daughters.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Maintaining good mental health is essential to your growth and contentment in your own life. This plays a part in all your relationships, choices and behaviors. If we dropped the mental health stigma and made access to mental health care, more people would make taking care of their mental health as regular as going to the gym.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
My heart is on Instagram @hilarymaeco you can also contact me through my website www.hilarymae.com or message me on LinkedIn.
Thank you for these fantastic insights!