Wallowa County woman embarks on a new career where she works with people in life change, offers her services face-to-face, over the phone and online
Judy Allen prepared for retirement like many other 21st century Americans; she made a career change and moved to the country.
For 25 years Allen ran a community action agency in Pullman, Wash. Planning for the future, she and her husband Michael, a professor at Washington State, bought a cabin outside of Joseph. Four years ago they moved to Northeast Oregon full-time.
As part of the transition, Allen chose life coaching as a career that drew on her experiences and was adaptable wherever she might live.
She said two things prompted her to choose life coaching as her next venture. After managing a staff of 30 she said she was fascinated by working with people.
“I wanted a change as I was phasing out my career in human services administration and I was particularly interested in working with people in life change as I was,” said Allen.
Allen said that watching her daughter struggle with kidney failure also influenced her decision.
“That changed the way I looked at everything,” said Allen.
After two year’s on dialysis, Allen's daughter received a kidney transplant and is living healthily, she said.
Two years before retiring, Allen signed up for a training program directed by James Flaherty of New Ventures West. Every three months, for the next year and a half, she traveled to San Francisco to train as a life coach.
Allen said Flaherty’s style of life coaching came from an absolutely essential need to compete in the stiff job markets of San Francisco and the Silicon Valley. He started New Ventures West as a response to high tech companies trying to transition their computer programmers and networkers into managers, said Allen.
Shortly after she graduated from the program, she moved to Joseph.
“I brought it (life coaching) to Wallowa County and actually had quite a few people to work with,” said Allen. “Some people really understand what life coaching is and they respond to it and take the practices and processes seriously.”
When working with individuals, Allen said she goes through a few consultations with a new client to explain what life coaching is and to decide whether or not its a good fit. She said they discuss the “presenting issue” -— what is it the client wants to change. She offers one or two coaching suggestions and gives them a personal assessment form to get a better picture of who they are.
The assessment asks questions like “What have you eaten today?” “What exercise have you done?”
Allen said, “I try and find out if there’s a deficiency, then give them one or more types of practices like yoga or pilates.”
She suggests breathing exercises as well and suggests that her clients focus on strengthening the core of their body.
“It affects the whole being — mental and emotional strength,” said Allen.
Then she determines if life coaching is the right approach.
“I want to see if they have any interest or if the suggestions take hold — some respond immediately and some are not ready,” said Allen.
When red flags wave in a consultation, like marital issues or substance abuse, she refers them to counseling.
Most clients are seeking career change, transition into retirement or want to change approaches within an established career. She offers face-to-face coaching, over the phone, online, and has expanded into working with groups.
She has used her techniques in workshops in both Union and Wallowa County to teach coping methods for stress and she offers supervisory training to help people who want to transition into management positions.
In 2009, Allen and her husband lived in Australia. There she put her life coaching to work with a human services organization in New South Wales. A regional manager was trying to pull together a management team that would be effective and work well together; a team of half whites and half aborigines.
A few months before, the Australian president have given an apology speech regarding the country's history of removing aborigine children from their parents and placing them in white families to be raised. The speech caused a great deal of tension.
“It was fascinating,” said Allen. “It really opened my eyes to the whole issue of kids adopted out who didn't understand their origins. The speech stirred everything up again and made it difficult for aborigines to work with whites.”
Emphasizing similarities within a group, instead of accentuating differences, is a good place to start the healing process and get divergent people to work together, she said.