In the spring, I spent some time with Sarah Couper, from Sarah Couper Coaching, Coaching for Change -- for a professional head shot session. I had met Sarah at a holiday party last December where we both take horseback riding lessons in Goshen, New York. Sarah is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Life Coach based out of Orange County, New York. I was curious about what she did as a Life Coach, so I thought it would be fun to ask her a few questions and share her answers here along with some of my favorites from her session.
Question: What is a Life Coach?
Different people will probably give you different answers. Sometimes when people think of Life Coaching, it's about business goals, accountability, and sort of making things happen in a way that evokes struggle and tons of effort. The way I work, Life Coaching is a process that helps you find and manage your own blind spots so they don't hold you back, and its a process that helps you create your future very intentionally.
Question: Why did you decide to become a Life Coach?
So, my traditional education and experience is as a Clinical Social Worker. I've worked in various in-patient and out-patient mental health settings for over 30 years. I really love working with clients, it's definitely my life's work and a calling of sorts. But, I've seen what managed care has done to the field over the years, and I wanted to be able to work without all the trappings and assumptions of the medical model - diagnosing, focusing on problems, etc. In addition to that, I found myself a few years ago, with some health issues that I was having difficulty managing. I had gotten all the help traditional medicine had to offer, but I was still struggling. And yet, this wasn't something I would have gone to therapy for. Not that I don't believe in therapy, of course, I do. I think there are a lot of issues in life that people need help with, but that aren't particularly suited for therapy in the way that our culture sees therapy. I think in times past there was always someone you could go to for these kinds of situations - a relative, a clergy member, a medicine woman, somebody in your village or tribe, but our culture is so fragmented now, we've lost that to a large degree. So, long story short, I went to a Life Coach and was happily surprised. And, of course I don't leave all my training and experience as a psychotherapist behind; I think it adds substance and depth to my work with clients, and for some it adds to my credibility and they see me as more trustworthy.
Question: How would you describe your coaching?
In my work, I always want to guide clients back to their own wisdom and their own next steps; I want to equip them with tools to move forward. I help clients rediscover their own capabilities, I teach strategies for staying in touch with those strengths and using them effectively. So, for me and my clients, it's about getting rid of what's not working, all the socialized expectations we've bought into, getting more connected to our inner most selves, and developing strategies to help navigate the world and all it's challenges with more ease. It's challenging for clients but very rewarding. While I do a lot of listening and validating - which is incredibly important - the responsibility is really the client's and where they want to take the work. It's a bit different than therapy in that I assume clients are ready willing and able to do the often difficult work of changing their patterns - with support of course.
Question: What specific areas do you focus on?
Yes, I often work with people who are divorcing, but not exclusively. I used to be involved in a Collaborative Divorce group and I worked as a neutral divorce coach on teams with attorneys and other professionals. What I learned is that a lot of people need help to manage their feelings and find their own equilibrium in the midst of that kind of turmoil...before they can effectively deal with everything involved in a divorce. So, the way I coach clients now is quite different. I teach new skills to manage intense emotions so things don't escalate unnecessarily, strategies to increase mind-body awareness, improve access to clients' own inner wisdom, and increase compassion for themselves. I teach clients tools so they can go through the process in the way that they want to, being the person they want to be, and not someone motivated only by fear, hurt and anger. They end up making more clear-minded decisions, they feel better about themselves and they take all these new skills and awareness into building their new lives. And sometimes people come back to me later with issues around parenting, work, or new relationships. That's a big one actually because people don't want to repeat patterns they made in their previous marriages. And it's hard for us to see our own patterns, so a coach can be very helpful with that. I like to say 'a fish doesn't know it's in water.'
Question: What do I love about coaching the most?
I love watching people grow and evolve. I see myself as a facilitator, and the client does the work. It's a great privilege to have a front row seat to see the kind of transformation I get to see. It's a honor to connect with people at such deep levels, and to be trusted with their stories, their vulnerabilities. I can't imagine doing anything else.
Question: Do you offer online or telephone coaching?
Yes, to both. It's so easy now. And I find that working by telephone without the visual senses involved can actually help people focus. Not everyone likes it though so I sometimes use Zoom. And I still see people in person in my office. It's up to the client. But with online and phone coaching I love that we're not limited by geography.
Question: What are your top 3 personal development books? (Because I am a personal development book junkie ;))
So tough to choose.
'The Biology of Belief' by Bruce Lipton. 'The Body Keeps the Score' by Bessel Van DerKolk. 'Self-Compassion' By Kristen Neff. Not necessarily in that order. Others worth mentioning are 'Quiet' by Susan Cain, 'The Drama of the Gifted Child' by Alice Miller (outdated but still useful), and 'Co-dependent No More' by Melodie Beattie.
Question: How can people reach out to you to get more information about your Life Coach services?
My website is Sarahcoupercoaching.com and all my contact information is there.
My email is [email protected] and my phone is 845-782-3360.
Thank you so much, Sarah, for allowing me to get some head shots for you as well as get to know more about your Life Coaching services!!
Are you thinking about booking a business head shot session? Contact me today to set up your session!!
Sally Sosler Photography is a natural light on-location lifestyle and portrait photographer serving Orange County, New York and the surrounding areas. Sally Sosler Photography specializes in newborn, maternity, children and family sessions. Please "like" Sally Sosler Photography on Facebook.