Title Text: LifeCraft: Create a Life that Moves Sail Boat
     Jan's Story

I am a clinical psychologist by training. I had a psychotherapy practice and taught graduate courses for many years. In January 2002 I had the opportunity to go to Vietnam as a volunteer, to help teach English at a foreign language center in Cao Lanh, a town in the Mekong Delta. Jan helping with an art project at a Buddhist orphanage in Saigon. I had never been to Asia and I had never done any international volunteer work. The experience had a profound impact on me. Vietnam is a compelling, fascinating country and the people there are some of the kindest, and most generous I've ever met. But what affected me most was that the experience of being there and doing something completely outside the realm of psychology, was as rewarding and fulfilling as any other experience I'd ever had. This realization acted as a catalyst for me.

When I returned home, I spent some time clarifying my values and priorities, and developing a picture of how I wanted my life to look. I became a clinical psychologist for a number of reasons. The most important was that I wanted to help people become happier and more productive, and ultimately be able to achieve their potential. I believed I could, in my own small way, help the world become a better place if more people were feeling good about themselves and what they were doing with their lives. That desire had not changed. However, my experience in Vietnam helped me see there were other avenues through which I could accomplish the same goals. I knew I wanted more opportunities to travel and to engage in international humanitarian work. As I thought more about how to make this happen, I realized I needed to create more balance and flexibility in my life and in my work.

While I was engaged in my soul-searching, I received some information about an organization that trains mental health professionals to add life coaching to their practices. As I explored coaching, I was intrigued by its value for clients who are motivated to explore new possibilities in their lives.  I also saw that the variety of ways coaching is conducted would allow me the opportunity I was seeking to re-focus my life. 

I began my coaching education at the Institute for Life Coaching Training (ILCT). The ILCT program is accredited by the International Coaching Federation. The founder and core teaching faculty at ILCT are clinical psychologists; the courses are geared toward trainees with advanced degrees in mental health or career counseling. I believe I received an excellent grounding in life coaching and found several wonderful mentors through my training there.

Life coaching has proven to be a wonderful counter-balance for my psychotherapy practice.  Though many of the skills I use in coaching are those I've developed over years as a therapist, I apply those skills very differently.  Coaching is highly focused and though coaches and clients are in a partnership, the clients take responsibility for the outcomes.  Typically, coaching clients want to make a change or several changes in their lives. They may be in transition, or reexamining their priorities to attain greater fulfillment and a clearer sense of purpose and meaning in their lives. In short, many of my coaching clients are experiencing what I did upon my return from Vietnam!  I find coaching rewarding on many levels.  I feel blessed to be able to help others make changes in their lives.  And coaching has allowed me to engage in humanitarian efforts that may make a difference in the lives of those I seek to serve.  It certainly has helped me make my own dream a reality.



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Contact Jan by E-mailing jan@janjacobscoaching.com
2005 Jan Jacobs, Psy.D.