These are questions that puzzle people as they try to decide what is the appropriate path to follow at a time when they are feeling vulnerable.

Therapy and coaching are two distinct paths. Often the paths seem to converge, but good therapists, and good coaches know the boundaries for each discipline.

One analogy that I like to use is that of the feeling of walking on thin ice. You may be familiar with this feeling. It may be one that you experience more often than not. On the surface, there may be nothing going on in your life that you can change to elevate the feeling of ‘thin ice’. It’s just a feeling that you have carried with you for as long as you can remember. Therapy may help you find the roots where the thin ice originated. In therapy you can look for the reasons why you have the feelings that continually send you on that thin ice. Therapy can help you identify hot buttons that are wired from the inside because of early experiences. These buttons often stop you from thinking rationally and cause untold stress in your daily life.

Therapy can help you see how your reactions and adaptations that you have made in your life were protective and made sense when you were young, but no longer are serving you. It can alert you to present situations that will trigger those feelings of ‘skating on thin ice’, and help you to make adjustments as you ‘unwire’ those hot buttons.

Working with a coach you will deal in present time. There you are, standing in the middle of a huge ice patch. You don’t know which direction to turn, or even if turning is a good idea. A coach can help you sort out the next step and plan for a different future. A coach is usually a short-term solution to problems that deals with immediate issues. Career path has you baffled? Going through a divorce that has thrown you so off kilter that you are afraid that any decision you make will be a bad one? Just moved, and want help with the next step toward integrating into the community? Kids just left home and you have time now to decide what the next part of your life will look like?

The latter is a time when the two paths (coaching and therapy) may converge. If you are looking for the next step, that calls for a coach. If you are trying to figure out who you are, try therapy.

To go back to my analogy of ‘thin ice.’ A coach can help you off the ice. A therapist can help you plant your feet in solid ground and get to the roots of your being.

How to find a coach or therapist that will be a fit for you? There are some basic questions that you can ask each discipline. Are you licensed or certified? Where did you train? How long have you been doing the work that you are advertising? Do you have a supervisor or do you submit to supervision from a peer? What difference do the above questions make? You can be assured of a standard of training if a person holds a license or certification. There is a code of ethics that accompanies licenses and certification, and there is recourse if you feel you have been treated poorly.

When you are feeling vulnerable it is important that you contract with someone who you can trust. Friends are usually good resources, but your own gut feelings are your best barometer. I recommend that people interview me, or anyone that they are thinking of trusting with their story. No one person is a fit for everyone. You can do a short interview on the telephone. It is not unusual to make an appointment for one session and see how it feels. A good coach or therapist will support this. If they don’t, ask why.

The path of life isn’t easy, and we all need help at some time.
It takes strength and courage to ask for help. I salute you on your journey.



Memberships are starting to come in on a regular basis–how great is that!! I have been asking for some feedback of why YOU may not have applied for membership. Here is one of the first responses I received:

“I am a Reiki Master. Not a lot of people are familiar with the work I do, or how it is done. Some people have even referred to it as a form of voodoo. I believe what I do serves toward the good health of people. Do I qualify to be on your site?” Definitely!! According to the Wikepedia, “Reiki is a spiritual practice developed in 1922 by Mikao Usui….a technique where by practitioners believe they are moving ‘healing energy’ through the palms.” While research hasn’t totally validated this healing approach, there are many testimonies available to validate its humble claims. The US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), the agency responsible for disseminating authoritative information for complementary and alternative healing practices, recognizes Reiki as an energy therapy along with therapeutic touch, and electromagnetic therapy. Please be sure to apply for membership with Online Wellness Association; we would love the opportunity to help you educate the public about Reiki practices.

Do you have a comment, feedback, or other input about why YOU haven’t become a member of OWA? Please send your responses to:

To become a member of Online Wellness Association, go to ‘become a member’ at


From the weekly Oregon, Springfield Times, column, December 12, 2008, edition, page 7: LIFESTYLE CHANGES: ASK MAx , by MAx Fabry

Dear MAx
My husband and I retired together two years ago. We have already done just about everything on our ‘list’ that we wanted to do when we retired. Lately he has been driving me crazy just hanging out at the house. I feel like all I do is sit around waiting for him to decide to do something. We are in a good financial position, we have great adult kids and grandkids, other then him being depressed, we are in pretty good health for our ages. I often think of my parents and how they aged. Mostly I remember them just sitting in front of the TV, dad in his easy chair, mom waiting on him. Are we going in that direction? Is this all there is?


Dear Evelyn,
Congratulations for entering the autumn of your life. Yes, I said autumn, NOT winter—you are not on your last season as yet. Also, congratulations for good financial planning to get you where you are today. It isn’t unusual for people to focus on the financial aspect of retirement and not pay attention to what happens after you are no longer part of a daily workforce. Many people in the US dream of early retirement, but it has been reported that people who retire at the age of 55 are at least two times as likely to die by the time they reach 65 years of age compared to those people that continue to work well past the average retirement age. According to the US Census, in 1910 people did not retire until approximately 74 years old, which is interesting because the average life expectancy at that time was only 50 years. When Social Security was initially enacted in the US in 1935 it was not common for people to live much past 62 years old. In 2002 the average age of retirement was 62 years of age. Depending on what statistics you read, the average lifespan of Americans is 75 years old for men, 79 years old for females. Like you, Evelyn, most people plan their retirement based on money. This is misleading once we make the transition to this stage of life and many retired people are finding themselves under-planned emotionally and spiritually. In planning for retirement also want to plan for how you want to spend the most precious of all your commodities: your time. When people retire they usually loose their identity. They are no longer a banker, teacher, ironworker, papermaker. So they begin to ponder ‘Then who I am?’ This question often leads down a path called depression, ending in an easy chair, with a clicker, and a TV set. Interestingly, AARP recently reported that even though Americans are retiring better financially then preceding generations, they are feeling worse physically and emotionally. I read somewhere that people that work in the public like politicians and entertainers work well into their 70’s and are generally in good health, look good, and have positive attitudes. Perhaps the need to have purpose in life: feeling needed and useful, being connected to the community and to a social group, is what keeps us going. In retirement, after the ‘list’ is done, if you don’t already have one, make a new list: volunteer, take a class, join those groups that you never had time for while working, create, challenge yourself to a new hobby. Most of all, get to know each other again. You may find that you each have new fears, new goals, new thoughts about how life has been and where you go from here. Life in retirement doesn’t mean life is ending, it means that life is going to be different, full of wonderful colors because that is what makes autumn beautiful.

Have a question about addiction, recovery, or life transitions such as retirement, career change, grief and loss issues, empty nesting, etc, ‘ASK MAx’. Send your questions to Lifestyle Changes, PO Box 1962, Eugene, OR 97440; or, e-mail your questions to MAx is a member in good standing, and founder of Online Wellness Association,. Learn more about MAx Fabry at, and at ‘About us’ at

To subscribe to the Springfield Times, or to learn more about this publication, go to

Online Wellness Association members in good standing are encouraged to submit blogs, articles, events, and other works to share with the public. This is a FREE service to the public, and a great benefit for OWA members.


Another often asked questions from potential Online Wellness Association members is: I just have a small practice, why do I need an internet presence? There are several reasons practitioners need an online presence: the most obvious is that the paper telephone directory everyone receives is becoming obsolete. Because more and more people of all ages are now using the internet, when they need to access resource information, like phone numbers, they go to the internet to ‘Google’, ‘Yahoo’, ‘Ask’, etc. The next reason is to establish credibility by presenting your resume, picture, contact information on your personal website, by posting articles to share information, and blogging day to day insights. Developing a presence online allows all wellness practitioners to market their practices as much, or as little, as they want. Having an internet presence is a good value for your marketing dollars. Let Online Wellness Association help you establish a presence online. Apply for your membership today at: