Helen O’Bannon, Oregon, USA
Helen’s Light Wellness Coaching
Transforming lives. Creating change.
As a Wellness Coach, I get to work with people experiencing change, loss, and grief through their changing circumstances. I use a variety of techniques from creative art and play, action techniques, emotional intelligence training, meditation, and mindfulness. I also work with clients who are also experiencing intense therapy and need practical ways of dealing with life during this process. As a person who has had this experience, I have learned techniques that we can use to make life easier and more manageable. I have a background in Psych, Sociology, Metaphysics, and Child Development. I am a non-denominational Minister of Divinity. While I do not do therapy, I hold space for people to deal with their emotions. I have the privilege of working with clients that have dealt with loss and change. I can help them deal with the reality of loss and grief, feel the emotions, and grow through their loss. When we are finished working together, clients will be able to fully experience their emotions without being overwhelmed. They will know more about their creativity and resourcefulness. They will be more resilient. Connect with Helen at http://www.HelensLight.com
What is your niche (coaching focus) and how did you choose it?
Because I am in the process of forming a wellness coaching business, I don’t currently have any clients. For this interview, I will speak as if success has already happened. My niche is individuals, couples, and groups managing the various emotions that come about through change and/or loss. I also work with individuals experiencing intense therapy who need help managing their lives while participating in the process of therapy. Therapy can bring about a mixture of emotions that can be confusing and challenging. I know this because I am a long-time participant in the process of therapy. As we work on ourselves, we often deal with past traumas and difficulties, we can feel as though it’s impossible to work, study, or even function daily. That’s where I come in. I help by coaching people in the ways of getting internal to external. I teach clients little tricks and tools we can use with ourselves to do what we need to do when we feel like we can’t. Using action techniques, mindfulness and meditation techniques, and creativity clients can be helped to make stress and uncomfortable emotions manageable. They become accountable to someone and can then become accountable to themselves. How did I choose my niche? I don’t know the answer to this question. I almost feel like my niche chose me. My background is in working with individuals, couples, and groups who have experienced the trauma of sexual assault, child abuse, or domestic violence. I love facilitating groups. I have also done accompaniments in California. As an advocate, I would meet the survivor or victim at the forensics lab while they were having a rape exam. As a result, I discovered that I am very good at thinking on my feet and improvising. I started implementing fun and interesting techniques to counsel. I find that this style of counseling can be used in coaching. The experiential techniques allow for practicing new thinking, attitudes, and behavior so that the concepts can be implemented into the client’s life.
Who is your ideal client?
Again, speaking as though the future is now present, I have clients that are dealing with many forms of change like separation from a loved one, divorce, death, change of employment, and even a change in their health. As a survivor of a cancer diagnosis 12 years ago and as a survivor of trauma, I know that the road to recovery and peace can be rocky and challenging. It can also be very gratifying. My journey would have been much easier if I would have had a coach in my corner. Having a therapist in our corner is very different than having a coach. They both have their place. My ideal clients will be willing to experiment and do things that may feel awkward or strange. They may need support from a therapist and want the support of a coach. I have clients that are willing to experiment and see what new behaviors and attitudes will work for them. That is usually how I introduce an experiential technique…as an experiment. They are willing to do what it takes to change as their lives become happier and more fulfilled. My clients feel comfortable with me, and they feel supported. We have a connection that allows them to explore what works for them and then implement the new learning.
What inspired you to become a life coach?
I don’t know what inspired me. “Inspired” is such a powerful word. I enjoy connecting with people. I enjoy seeing people transform their lives. When I was in my 30s, I drove 3 hours once a month to an all-day psychodrama workshop. I was able to make my internal external. I learned the power of play and the power of groups. I learned that becoming more aware of our imagination and creativity created new and interesting ways of dealing with life. I think that is where I was inspired. The inspiration was deeply held and cultivated. Imagination, play, and creativity inspire me. I was also deeply inspired by all the therapists that supported me in my journey. I have been so fortunate to have found such good people to work with. Those therapists were an inspiration to me. I will be forever grateful to them.
What is the most challenging part of being a life coach?
The most challenging part of being a wellness coach is the business and marketing required. That’s what I like about the Transformation Academy. I can learn the skills and techniques of coaching while learning marketing and sales. I have a nice foundation with the knowledge of psychology I have honed through my education and experience. TA allows me to build on what I know. I feel challenged by the marketing and sales aspects of running a wellness coaching business. Although challenging, I feel capable of learning what I need to know to flourish.
What is the most fulfilling part of being a life coach?
I have not yet worked with clients as a wellness coach. However, in my previous work with survivors of violent crimes, I enjoyed feeling fulfilled as I saw clients making long-term and lasting changes in the way they dealt with their lives after violence touched their lives. Many of them chose to do really good work with me and they transformed their lives. Knowing that I had little to do with their transformations was satisfying. I know full well that they did the work and that it was their accomplishment. It was a joy to see them make changes that worked for them.
What is your favorite coaching activity or exercise to do with clients?
I love doing and facilitating action techniques while coaching. For instance, I would be in my element leading a group where we use experiential techniques to learn ways of better dealing with conflict and challenging emotions. For instance, if I was doing an action group and one of the participants wanted to work on a conflict they had at work. They would be the Main Protagonist. The Protagonist would then decide on what players would be part of their action drama. Those are the Support Players. The Protagonist would describe the conflict with each of the Players and assign the roles to each Support Player. From there we would work on the thoughts and attitudes of the Protagonist and let them play it out. We might play out how the conflict was in the present. We then might play out how the Protagonist wanted the situation to change. We might show the conflict physically and then dialogue from there. After the play was ended, we would debrief the Support People and Protagonist. The group as a whole would discuss the process and how each of them related to the activity. I think this type of activity is my favorite and one that is very effective for conflict resolution and for becoming more aware of the unconscious, internal dialogue, and scripts. I love this type of activity because it allows each participant to take part as they are comfortable.
What advise would you give YOURSELF back when you first dreamed of becoming a coach?
I would go back to even before I decided to become involved with wellness coaching. I would tell myself to when I was getting my BA. I would educate myself on business. Back then I had no ambition to work for myself. I was dealing with chronic pain and mental health issues. I would educate myself on managing and marketing a business.
What is the impact you want to make in this world?
I don’t know about the world…I know about my world. I want to create. I want to impact individuals so that they can change their lives and live more fulfilled and happy existences. If I can positively affect my clients, do art, and play then I will have made an impact on the world, and that works for me. So as far as the world at large goes, I can make small effects …I can make little ripples. There’s no telling how far these positive ripples will go. That is how I affect the world. Each of us can impact our world. That’s what I want to do. I want clients to be able to do the work they need to do with me and then move on to make their lives bigger and better. When I die I want to know that I made someone’s life a little better and that they learned from me how to do it for themselves. I want to be indispensable.
Is there anything else you would like to share with Transformation Coaching Magazine readers?
I hope as Life Coaches we strive to work on ourselves to make ourselves happy and fulfilled. Anyone in the helping professions such as counseling or coaching needs to be aware of their issues and activations. We need to be aware of our buttons so that if they are pressed we have experience and success how to deal with them without it interfering with the process of our clients.