By Taroue W. Brooks
Deirdre L. Jones-Lowman, Ph.D (c), M.B.A. ICF Professional Life Coach, Leadership and Youth Mentor Coach Founder and Managing Director of the Pay It Forward Life Coaching and Mentoring Services; division of DJ Squared Consultative Group, Inc.® a Career and Life Management Company
What inspired you to be a life coach?
I decided to become a life coach because: I believe in the power of choice (You can choose the life you want). I am a Self-care advocate. I empower individuals to trust their own judgment and improve their lives: financially, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. I believe in people, their resiliency and that when people know better, they do better. I recognize that fear and insecurity come from the unknown. I believe that education strengthens confidence in decision making
What type of training or credential do you have or is needed to be a life coach?
To be considered a professional life coach you must be credentialed and certified by the International Coaching Federation, a credentialed coaching agency, or an agency certified by ICF; and, have over 100 hours of ICF continuing education credits and practice hours.
Why should someone seek having a life coach?
Individuals seek life coaches to move their current life situations or goals forward. “Life” can be complicated. Life events: marriage, divorce, children, finances, loss, transitions and changes. It all impacts mental health and wellbeing. When individuals feel stuck, unmotivated, unfulfilled, lackadaisical or lackluster, but they are willing and able, they seek life coaches.
What is the difference between a therapist and a life coach?
Understanding the difference between a life coach and a therapist is critical when deciding which support services will benefit you. A therapist, usually a behavioral therapist, focuses on the past, and the affect the past has on mental and emotion state. Life coaching is future-forward; confidential, strength-based approach to coaching. A life coach is a guide, helping to create action steps to move forward toward the future. Moving from where you are to where you want to be.
What is your approach in getting women of color to engage you with this service?
The answer to the question, what is your approach in getting women of color to engage in Life coaching services?” requires some thought. Currently, my approach is to engage women of color, where they are. I address all women, but especially women of color, by speaking life into them. I teach them to self-appreciate by rephrasing adverse thoughts and I empower them toward self-care first. What does that mean? It means that women of color tend to dismiss everyday mental health indicators: stress, lack of mental clarity, high or low emotionality: anger, rage, feelings of vulnerability, impatience, anxiety, low self-esteem, low motivation, and negative thoughts and communication… as what it is. The traditional, gender assigned roles of women has evolved. Women are wives, mothers, daughters, aunts, entrepreneurs, students, and providers. The more “hats” women of color wear, the more intense the mental stressors tend to become especially without a positive outlet and support. As a life coach, I partner with clients to address everyday stressors; promote self-awareness and inner strengths; identify barriers and reconstruct those barriers into building blocks.
Why is mental health such a taboo in the Black community?
Whew. Mental health and the black community. That’s a loaded question. My purview is that mental health, especially in black communities, is seen as a sign of weak-mindedness or weakness. Within communities of color, they may feel embarrassed, ashamed, too proud (ego), and in denial about mental health. Mental health related issues go unnoticed, undiagnosed, overlooked and untreated, especially in communities where there is generational trauma and poverty. Unfortunately, these issues get passed from generation to generation. As a culture, African-Americans tend to be highly spiritual but remain misinformed and undereducated on the benefits of seeking mental health treatment. It is misnomer to think that only people of privilege, wealth, and means are “entitled” to be mentally fit and healthy. As women, we set the tone and temperament for our community; life begins with and life comes through us. The more we, as women, talk about mental health and mental health related issues, we destigmatize the taboo. Life coaching is a mental health strategy, it does not require a medical diagnosis, it requires readiness, determination and will.
What type of price range should one expect to pay when seeking the services of a life coach?
The price of life coaching sessions varies by life coach and coaching services. However, the benefits outweigh the costs. Consider the out of pocket cost of life coaching as an investment in yourself. The question then becomes, how much are you willing to invest in yourself?!
What is the most challenging aspect of being an entrepreneur?
As a life coach, one of the most challenging aspects of being an entrepreneur is advocating for and on behalf of people who have yet to fully understand the value of self-care and the importance of mental health. As an entrepreneur, it is often difficult for people to see the value in hiring a life coaching and purchasing coaching services because the services and benefits are not tangible. Life management requires constant maintenance; similar to investing in a monthly gym membership, paying monthly insurance premiums, paying for wig installations, weave/hair extensions, manicures and pedicures. Coaching contributes to self-improvement, adds personal value, fosters self-discovery and helps to move individuals forward.
Where do you see this industry in the next five years?
What I hope I see in the next five years is a sustainable life coaching industry and life coaching embraced as a mental health alternative. Life coaching is a trauma informed and research-based practice. Individuals who feel anxious, overexerted, tired, overwhelmed, frustrated, and stuck will benefit from life coaching services. Clients also seek coaches to work toward academic, career, relationship, financial, and business goals. Anyone, regardless of age, can benefit from working with a life coach. For communities and people of color, life coaching services are for individuals, who are ready to take charge and move forward.