Before you commit to work with a life coach, you should have some idea what skills, experience, training, and values they bring to the table. Just as you would not hire a mountain guide if they had never climbed the mountain before, you deserve to trust that your coach will be a knowledgeable, reliable mentor on your own journey of growth and transformation.
Like you, I have faced my share of challenges. I’ve parented my own children through several major life transitions and challenges, including a divorce. I’ve had to re-imagine my professional goals several times following life transitions and career setbacks. I’ve experienced, and overcome, childhood trauma, depression, anxiety, grief, and loss. My journey has not been easy, and it’s nowhere close to finished yet. But along the way I’ve gained a deep sense of purpose, courage, compassion, and determination, which have served me well in my work with clients of all ages, from preschool-age children to adults in their 70s caring for grandchildren.
My drive to work with children and families, with a special focus on those who have experienced trauma and loss, was ignited by a profound personal loss that occurred in October 2011. Late one evening, my sister called to tell me that our cousin had gotten into an argument with his wife, who fled their apartment. Our cousin then took a shotgun that no one knew he had and murdered first his 2-year-old son, and then himself.
This event plunged me into a profound crisis. My own youngest son was then 2 years old, like my cousin’s child. My cousin and I had been close as children and teens - he had been like a younger brother, a troubled kid whom I had tried to mentor and protect as best I could, mostly from a distance. He’d led a hard life full of good intentions and big mistakes. At the time of his death, we had been out of contact for several years, but he seemed to have turned things around and reinvented his life. Then, suddenly, he was gone, and even more tragically, he had taken his little boy with him.
At the time, I was a stay-at-home dad with three boys of my own. I had put my career, as a strategy consultant and nonprofit director, on hold to focus on parenting the kids, while my then-wife supported the family. Although I loved being home with the kids and found my role as a parent both challenging and fulfilling, I felt at a loss about what my broader purpose and career focus should be, once the kids were all in school.
After my cousin’s death, I committed myself to focus my life’s work on supporting kids and parents who were struggling. It was far too late to help my cousin. But I would do what was within my power to do to help other children - and maybe, just maybe, I could be that one person who was there for kids and their families at a critical moment, to help them shift their lives in a positive direction.
Starting in 2011, I began redirecting my life in service of children, parents, families, and communities seeking to prevent and heal from trauma, abuse, and addiction. I went back to grad school, in my mid-forties, to earn not one but two degrees: a Master of Social Work, with a specialization in the clinical treatment of trauma and interpersonal violence; and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing. I’ve served as a community educator and trainer on Adverse Childhood Experiences and self-healing communities. I co-founded and served as a board member for a local music festival that raises money to benefit organizations that support at-risk children and youth. I was chosen to be a board member and president for a non-profit community mental health agency serving children with emotional and behavioral challenges. I volunteered my time to run writing workshops for youth in inpatient psychiatric care.
During and after my MSW program, I’ve also worked as a child and family therapist, serving children and young adults from the ages of 4 to 25, as well as their parents, guardians, and siblings. I’ve been an embedded therapist at elementary schools, not only providing therapy and crisis intervention to children in school but also working with teachers, principals, and behavioral and special education specialists to support students with behavioral and emotional challenges. My clients included children and families with a broad range of issues, from ADHD to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Autism, neurocognitive and sensory disorders, suicidal and/or self-harming behaviors, addictions, and severe and persistent mental illnesses including schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. I’ve worked with children who have had as many as 65 different foster and institutional placements by the age of 21. And I’ve assisted many children and caregivers who have experienced domestic violence, trauma, abuse, and neglect.
Along the way, I developed a style that is strengths-based, compassionate, and focuses on the family (in whatever form it might take for that child), rather than being purely aimed at the individual child. As one of my closest mentors once said, “There’s no such thing as a child mechanic.” A child is a reflection of her or his environment, and she or he also profoundly impacts that environment. Helping a parent or caregiver (or teacher, or principal) grow, adapt, learn, and develop new skills to handle challenging situations can help a child more than any number of therapy sessions alone with that child. Conversely, helping a child develop the coping skills, emotional intelligence, self-regulation capacity, and sensory and emotional awareness that are necessary to manage life’s challenges can create positive change for everyone around that child. And by helping these children and their families, entire communities - and ultimately entire societies - can shift in a positive, healthy, resilient direction.
That is my mission. That is my purpose. That is my passion.
Like many people, I’ve had to reinvent my work, my goals, and my professional life in the face of the COVID pandemic. The transformation from agency-based therapist to independent private practice as a life coach for parents and families has been an unexpected gift, for which I’m profoundly grateful.
To this work, I bring many years of academic, professional, and personal experience. All of that expertise are at your disposal, to help you and your family work toward your goals, on the issues, challenges, and aspirations that are most important to you. More importantly, I bring a compassionate, empathetic, non-judgmental, strengths-based perspective to every client and every situation. You will be in good hands.
I believe strongly in the fundamental dignity of all people regardless of age, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, political beliefs, national origin, immigration status, or any other aspect of their identity. Everyone deserves respect and compassion, no matter how big, no matter how small.
On a personal level, I am a writer with two books in process. I play piano, sort of, and am learning guitar. I love to sail and am certified to skipper boats up to 55 feet in length. I ski just well to keep up, barely, with my kids. I love to camp, fish, hike, and travel both domestically and abroad. I’ve visited 46 states and 17 countries outside the US.
I write bad poetry, which I’m too kind to inflict on others. I love to cook Indian and Thai food, even though only one of my kids will eat it. I meditate regularly. This, along with journaling, making music and art, reconnecting with my spiritual core, being out in nature, and obtaining regular coaching and growth of my own, has been crucial to my well-being through challenging times and major transitions.
Finally, and most importantly, I’m a proud parent of three amazing boys, all of whom are still in school. As of this writing (in mid-2020), they are 10, 12, and 15. Learning to coparent effectively with my kids’ mother following our divorce has been a critical part of my own journey, as has rebuilding my own home and family life with a new partner. Each of the kids’ new life stages has brought its own challenges, joys, and adjustments. These experiences have helped me better understand many of the the children and families I work with, on a personal (rather than purely theoretical) level. I am more humble, and hopefully at least a little bit more wise, as a result.
All else is subject to change with little or no notice. Just ask my kids, who are constantly surprised at whatever new interest I bring up at the dinner table, and roll their eyes accordingly. What can I say? I love to learn.
Simmons University, Master of Social Work
Pacific University, Master of Fine Arts in Writing (Fiction)
Harvard University, Bachelor of Arts cum laude in Comparative Literature (French and English)
Certifications, Training, and Expertise
Studying at Robbins-Madanes Training
Certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Certified in Collaborative Problem Solving
Certified Clinical Trauma Professional
Certified in Non-violent Crisis Intervention
Advanced academic coursework in Attachment and Neurobiology, Complex Childhood Trauma
Continuing Education in Motivational Interviewing, suicide prevention and intervention, family systems, narrative therapy, sand tray therapy, positive behavioral training, positive discipline in schools, and alcohol and drug treatment