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Forest Road

What Coaching Is and Isn't:
Breaking Stereotypes 

Coaching isn't...

  • Telling you what to do

  • Giving answers or advice

  • Fixing you

  • Toxic positivity, unaccepting of challenging emotions

  • Dependent upon motivation or drive

  • Saving you from your struggles, unrealistic about life expectations

  • Diagnosing illness, Prescribing medicine or solutions, clinical care, or Therapy

Coaching is...

  • Assisting you in generating your own solutions and care-methods that stick

  • An aid to envisioning needs and goals, and doable step-by-step action

  • A tool for self-discovery, purpose, and recovery of authentic identity

  • A (truly) judgment-free space for all emotions

  • An intentional listening ear

  • A source of reflection and connection with yourself and life 

  • A way of learning resilience 

  • A connection to resources

  • A route to accessing motivation

  • A holistic view and opportunity to analyze all facets of your life

  • A means of developing realistic, progressive self compassion

  • A tool for thriving instead simply surviving

  • A means of building autonomy and self-trust

  • A process of unlearning socialized damage and harmful mindsets by developing new, functional perspectives

  • A connection to your strengths

Some foundational premises of coaching are...

  • Despite challenges, you are not broken and in need of fixing or saving.

  • The most difficult emotions and challenges (oftentimes) function as the biggest source for growth and resilience, but that doesn't take away the pain of facing them, nor does it need to.

  • We hold space for challenging emotions, and over time, we assist you as you transmute your experiences into a desired outcome.

  • You are the expert in your own experience. We just provide the car, you drive the journey. 

is and ist

When to Use Our Coaching Services

People seek coaching for a diverse range of reasons. Below are some examples of what coaching in our specialties can be used for:​​​

Image by Ali Kazal
when use
Meditating in Mountains

Coaching Frequently Asked Questions


Meet Your Coach
Jonathan at Sanctuary Repose

How to Apply The Following Information About Me

Lived experience in a practitioner can truly help a client feel heard and understood. However, the coaching experience is client centered. I won't be discussing much if any of these pieces of myself during the session, rather aiding you with tools from these areas of focus as needed so that you can apply them to your own journey where you deem appropriate. This experience is, and will always be about you.


But in order for clients to feel more at ease before hopping in, I find it important to give you a brief introduction into my life and why I chose this path in being of service to others. 

Education and Areas of study:

  • Behavioral Health Coaching (Ginger/Headspace Institute, led by Clinicians)

  • Allied Health (pathology, medical terminology, in depth Anatomy & Physiology studies)

  • Massage therapy & Bodywork (Holistic Massage Training Institute & Anne Arundel Community College)

  • Medical and orthopedic massage 

  • Energy work (varied sources) and traditional Reiki (Jikiden Institute program)

  • Studies of traditional medicine systems (eg. Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and 5 Element theory) 

  • Alternative approaches to mind-body care (somatic work and meditation)

  • Pharmacy technician

  • World Spiritualities and Belief Systems, Cultural studies

  • Introductory Psychology 

I have personal lived experience with navigating the following:

  • Neurodivergence

  • Depression, anxiety, derealization, depersonalization, dissociation

  • Medical trauma

  • Growing up in households affected by alcohol/addiction

  • Fluctuating body size, integrated health perspectives on fitness

  • Long-term Intercultural/interracial relationships (romantic and familial dynamics)

  • Non-traditional family dynamics

  • Disability & caregiving for disability

  • Effects of poverty and class struggles

  • Chronic illness

  • Major life transitions

  • Grief and Death

  • SA and other Trauma 

  • Gender nonconforming, transgender, LGBTQ identity

  • Non-straight identity

  • Ancestral Identity Exploration

  • Polyamory

If any of the above apply to your life and you're seeking a space of compassion, I'm happy to hold space for you and walk with you as you find your path forward. I have lived experience with navigating socioeconomic obstacles and high intensity or chronic challenges in life. I also hold space for the unique impact that being a person from a marginalized group (or groups) can have on wellbeing. Whether you just want to feel normalized and address other aspects of life in coaching, or you need a safe space to dig a deeper path to liberation, I'll walk with you as you guide the depth of interaction with these parts of yourself during our session. Some of my clients are facing the wall of society, others have been dealt a particularly difficult personal hand, and many are facing both. Others have generally had it well, but run into a patch of life in which they need a bit of assistance. Any of these are deserving of compassion and understanding.  

If the above do not apply to your life, I love building bridges with individuals who have different lived experiences than myself, and I find that even when these factors do not apply to my clients' personal lives, they serve our coaching relationship well. In recognizing the diversity of human experience, coaching can evoke personal empowerment regardless of external circumstance. The tools that the above areas of my life have lead me to discover, such as connecting with identity, understanding complex factors in wellbeing, in-depth communication skills, shedding pressure or expectation, integrating and overcoming challengesand optimizing life systems are universally beneficial. When appropriate, I'd love to assist you in finding the tools that lead you to flourish, no matter your background.

In coaching, you'll do most of the talking, the reflecting, and the thinking. My job is never to direct you, or to know better, rather to use observation, insight, and background knowledge to explore and reflect with you until you've attained a tangible step forward. The beauty of this unique dynamic is unconditional support, grounding, authenticity, the ability to be heard, and best of all the ability to trust your own insight over time and practice. When needed, I'm happy to provide perspective, references, tools, and therapeutic insight within the scope of my backgrounds and studies. In these cases, I'll obtain your consent beforehand. 

Please remember to read up on the differences between coaching and therapy. Note that you will never be forced into clinical intervention, as this is a mutual interaction, and a non-medical service. But if it is determined that you may benefit from both coaching and clinical mental health treatments such as therapy or psychiatry, we can go over options and resources during your session to give you the power of knowledge and choice in your care. I'm well aware of the difficulties that many experience in trusting our medical system, and I'm more than happy to explore with you alternative options and/or professionals that are open to hearing, accepting, and being part of the change. Ultimately, I leave the power of choice in your hands.   

It's my greatest pleasure to work with you on this Journey. 

-Jonathan Bowling (he/they)

If you'd like to explore more about me and how I use these particular pieces of my life to enhance the experience of my coaching clients with unique tools, click a category below.


I'm able to adapt to the needs of a wide range of people, but if you find yourself unsure about whether this coaching dynamic is the right fit for you, please feel free to reach out to us and we can schedule a free brief consult.  

Jonathan sitting on a log in a forest
Studying Online

Coaching vs Therapy

Coaching and therapy are fundamentally different services, but both can be extremely beneficial when you've matched with the right professional for your needs. Despite these differences there are also some areas of overlap. Some people benefit from one more than the other, while others benefit from both equally.


Structure & Background

  • Goal and function focused

  • Present to future oriented*

  • Coaches can come from any educational background, can implement therapies only from the scope of those backgrounds**

  • Non-clinical service, cannot diagnose or provide mental health therapies

  • Coaching education programs focus on Behavioral Health (Using specific aspects of psychology to help you create the behaviors and changes you want to embody in a personalized way) 

  • Mental Wellness: How to create thriving and a sense of connection with life, perceived and felt wellbeing of mind and emotions

Tools of the Practice

  • Reflective questioning and observation

  • Tools from philosophy and mindfulness to impact interaction with life and situations

  • Focus on strengths, abilities, methods of personal/life analysis, goal formation when needed to assist in actionable implementation of new behaviors

  • Intentional listening, foundational acceptance of the client's expertise in their own experience 

  • Tools from Positive Psychology (not toxic positivity) and Evolutionary Psychology that recognizing the purpose and function of feeling difficult emotions, and using them constructively when appropriate. May include other elements of psychology studies, individualized per coach background/training.

  • Priorities include creating new and healthier behavioral patterns and mindsets, building of autonomy and self-trust, assistance through life's difficulties, client's ability to achieve self-determined needs and thrive

Client-Practitioner Dynamic

  • Client needs or goals are uncovered and utilized to drive the session direction

  • Coach is trained to assist the client in finding their own answers rather than providing solutions for them in order to create lasting results in behavior and eventually motivation

  • Coach may share background knowledge and resources to help the client, after assisting the client in exploring their own solutions 

  • Discussion of past struggles are not prompted by the coach, but coaches may ask reflective questions and hold space if client mentions them. Coaching prompts understanding of self and emotions through difficulty, and/or uses past experience as a forward-moving tool when applicable

  • Considers impact of social structures on mental wellbeing, this knowledge base usually from the coach's individual studies or lived experience


Structure & Background

  • Medical and function focus

  • Past to present oriented*

  • Specific clinical training and licensure required, degree-holders in psychology and mental health

  • Clinical service, can diagnose and provide structured mental health therapies (eg. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, EMDR, etc)

  • May use elements of Behavioral Health and Mental Healthcare

  • Mental Healthcare: Identifying and remediating mental illness or dysfunctional patterns for healing the mind

Tools of the Practice

  • Implements clinical mental health and behavioral therapies developed through medical studies (CBT, DBT, EMDR, etc)

  • In depth studies of psychology and mental health medicine to understand when illness is present required for all therapists

  • Some therapists may include philosophy, mindfulness, or coaching tools depending on the individual practitioner and their preferred means of interacting with clients

  • Clinical symptom management of mental illness and treatment, referrals to psychiatry (for medication prescribing) when necessary

  • Priorities include liberating patients from symptoms of mental illness and dysfunctional behavioral/mental patterns, trauma & emotional processing, and attaining a healthy mind

Client-Practitioner Dynamic

  • Therapist determines type of therapy based on professional knowledge. Client determines topics of conversation and areas of life to implement these therapies 

  • Therapist guides client in utilizing therapy skills. Client practices these skills inside and out of therapy per therapist instruction to become self-sufficient

  • Typically professional/patient dynamic. Some therapists may switch to a coaching approach to incorporate client-based solution-generating when needed

  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers are therapists that also consider sociological impact on client wellbeing

  • Assists client in processing past trauma safely and understanding "why's" about their behavior and current triggers

  • Assists in emotional processing

  • Crisis prevention plans

Overlap of the two fields can occur in multiple ways depending on client needs and the professional's background(s). For example, both interact with the client's present reality as a fulcrum. *Although therapy can delve into the past for understanding and processing, they can still evoke motivation towards a client's future. A coach may just provide additional strengths in the specifics of forward-moving behaviors and life envisionment with specialized skills in making it actionable. And although coaching is future oriented, the past can still be brought up by the client, acknowledged, and a coach can even assist in reflection and use the past as a tool. But a therapist may provide additional strengths via a deeper focus on past processing, knowing how to analyze and dig up the past for application in therapies, and an eye trained specifically for trauma-safety throughout that process. 

If a therapist also knows coaching skills, they may use a coaching approach to get their clients more involved in their own healing and feeling safer. Coaches that have background knowledge in neuroscience or psychology may be able to evoke deeper reflections, or triage clients who may need further help and lead them to other resources for clinical intervention.  Either can integrate mindfulness, identity and purpose exploration, or philosophy into their practice, but not everyone (in either field) chooses to. Both coaches and therapists are subject to find their own styles of helping others. Much of this depends on the individual professional, which is why we so strongly advocate for careful choosing of both therapists and coaches, and why our coaching can include assistance in the process of finding suitable other professionals for both mental and physical healthcare.

**see the note below on education and professional quality

Image by Samantha Gades

Important Considerations When Choosing Coaching, Therapy, or Both


Crisis Assistance

Did you know that you don't need to be at risk of suicide to receive crisis support? Whether you need suicide prevention or just need confidential, emergency emotional support, we'd like to give you some 24/7 options.


Call or Text 988 


Visit this link for chat and resources:

If you believe you're experiencing a medical or mental health emergency and your safety is in danger, dial 911 and ask for Emergency Medical Services.

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