Bellingham teacher helping girls to navigate those challenging teen years
Being a teenage girl is not easy these days, so Jamie (O'Brien) Shannon wants to help coach them through some troublesome situations before they arise.
Shannon, a teacher at Bellingham High School, recently started a coaching firm focused on leadership workshops for middle school and high school girls.
Through her high school teaching, Shannon is well aware of the issues facing teen girls, and wants to help them make decisions that lead to success and personal empowerment. She has also received training in coaching clients.
"I've had situations (as a teacher) where it is too late for a teen in terms of making choices. It's so disheartening," Shannon said. "A life coach is common in situations like in business or in helping someone deal with a divorce, but it's rarely used for teen girls."
Parents might remember some of the challenges of being a teen, but it has become more difficult in recent years with the rise of social media and reality television, Shannon said. The meanness that inevitably arises on reality TV shows like "Jersey Shore" is not necessarily viewed as fake to teens, and can become incorporated into high school life, she said.
"It's led to a mean-girl epidemic and to relationships that aren't healthy," said Shannon, noting that one of her goals is to help girl make decisions so that later they can look back at their teen years with fondness.
Shannon said the focus of her sessions is on coaching, not counseling. The difference, she said, is that coaching is more forward-thinking and about being prepared when situations arise, rather than trying to deal with them after the fact.
A couple of classes include helping fifth-graders prepare for middle school and helping middle school girls get ready for high school.
Sessions between Shannon and her clients are confidential, so she doesn't talk to the parents about the sessions unless she has permission from the teen. Shannon will break the confidentiality agreement if she decides the client is in harm's way, however.
Topics are wide-ranging, including personal relationships, dating and body image. Sessions can be in a group or one-on-one setting.
Shannon's Life Coach for Girls has an office in Fairhaven and will have new sessions starting in January. For more information, call 360-927-3664 or visit lifecoachforgirls.com.