Couch coach: Shupe is Natchez life coach

Published 12:16 am Sunday, November 13, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT John Shupe, who has a doctorate in life coaching, helps clients identify career and life goals, and outlines a plan to achieve success. This year, Shupe opened his office in Natchez for face-to-face consultations.

NATCHEZ — John Shupe does not wear a whistle around his neck, run plays or insist on pushups and laps, but he provides his own brand of coaching and encouragement from life’s sidelines.

As a certified global life coach since 2007, Shupe focuses on his client’s goals, whether they are business and career-related, or concern financial and personal obstacles.

Shupe, operating out of Intercept Coach Firm, doing business as Natchez Life Coaching Group, said he is the only life coach within 90 miles.

While some might think that life coaching is just another new age form of therapy, Shupe said that is not the case.

“I am not a therapist,” Shupe said. “Therapy focuses on behavioral issues. Coaching focuses on goal-oriented issues.”

Shupe said he often talks with clients who need more help than he can offer.

“I listen, and then refer to other professionals,” he said. “I have degrees in psychology and sociology, and I do my best to help, but I don’t treat.”

Shupe said as a life coach, he helps his clients see the bigger picture.

“If someone came in and wanted to start a business, I can help them figure out how to go about it,” Shupe said. “I am the listener, and as soon as the person opens up, we can start setting goals. From there — they put forth the effort to do what they wanted.”

Shupe said a successful coach-client relationship works like a team.

“It’s synergy,” Shupe said. “As a team, we focus on the client’s goals. With a coach, you can think larger, and get more of the job done.”

For example, Shupe said one of his clients wants to go into business for himself.

“He fears the economy,” Shupe said. “He’s not sure if it’s the right time (to start a business). So we’re making a list of pros and cons. We ask, what are the positives and negatives of going into business for yourself? What are your expectations?”

Shupe said his client base in Natchez is low, but growing, with six or seven clients. On the phone, he coaches between 19 and 25 people across the U.S. and Canada.

Shupe’s office opened to face-to-face meetings nine months ago, which he said is rare for life coaches.

“I felt like people deserved an option — in person or over the phone,” Shupe said. “Also I want to connect with people. Because of my psychology background, I want to see if someone is guarded, or if someone is telling the truth.”

The office is comfortable, with soft carpet, plush furniture and lamps that make the office feel cozy — like home.

“I wanted people to feel at home, at peace,” Shupe said. “That’s why I didn’t want to practice out of a medical center.”

Besides helping clients identify goals and find a path for reaching them, Shupe said he is an addiction coach too.

“I go the extra mile with addiction coaching because I have a personal stake in it,” Shupe said.

After a neck surgery several years ago, Shupe said he became addicted to pain killers, and it nearly wrecked his life.

“I was freed from those chains,” Shupe said. “My life completely turned around.”

Shupe said he has been clean since December 2006.

“I hit rock bottom,” he said. “I did not want to die or go to jail. And I did not want to hurt my family any more.”

Shupe said he has learned that addicts won’t get clean until they are ready, so he serves as a coach for families of addicts, and orchestrates interventions.

Shupe said life coaching is popular in western states, and it is slowly catching on in the rest of the U.S.

“Life coaching does not have the same stigma that counseling does,” Shupe said. “People feel more free to say, ‘I have a life coach,’ rather than a therapist. I studied therapy, but God revealed that life coaching is what I need to do. And I will continue to do it, as long as I feel in my heart that is the right thing to do.”

Shupe said residents of the Miss-Lou are fortunate to have access to exceptional local therapists.

“We are blessed as a community to have a group of wonderful counselors and therapists, who are knowledgeable and sincere, and put patients first,” Shupe said. “I have no problem calling any one of them (for referrals). We have such a good foundation of therapy here.”

Shupe said he does not turn people away who need help, even if they are low on cash. His rates are charged on a sliding scale based on income.

“I do many pro bono cases, because in this financial crunch, it’s my duty to help — no matter what the circumstances,” Shupe said.

Shupe earned his doctorate in life coaching from Redding College. He has certification from the International Coach Federation, is a member of the International Institute of Coaching and a member of the Christian Coaching Association.