Interview with Cari
How long have you been doing what you do and how did you get to be Relationship Coach?
I have been working as a Relationship Coach since the year 2000, which means I have over two decades of experience in this field. My journey began with seeing couples in therapy, but I also worked with individuals, families, and groups, and facilitated educational workshops. Over time, I noticed that my practice was attracting more and more couples who were struggling with conflict in their relationship.
Around 2003, I began to specialize in working with couples in conflict, which ultimately led me to become a Couples Coach. It was not a conscious decision, but rather a natural evolution based on the needs of the clients who were coming to me for help. Today, I am proud to say that my focus is helping couples create intentional and fulfilling relationships. I continue to invest in my own education and training to ensure that I am offering the most effective and up-to-date strategies to support my clients.
Who are your clients exactly?
The clients who typically seek my services are those who are looking for positive change in their marriage or partnership. They recognize that there is room for improvement and are willing to put in the effort to make things better. While they may be experiencing unhappiness, they are not ready to give up on their relationship and want to explore ways to create a healthier, more fulfilling dynamic.
Some common issues that I hear from clients include:
Lack of communication
Little to no physical or emotional intimacy
Arguing over the same issues
Betrayal and infidelity
Conflict and parenting differences
Life cycle transitions (i.e., birth of children, kids leaving the nest, etc.)
Ambivalence about staying or leaving
Hurt from a previous relationship
Wanting change in their romantic relationship but partner is not open to receiving support
Dealing with an affair and unsure how to move forward
Coping with a break-up or divorce
Uncertain about how to set healthy boundaries with others
Lacking self-esteem, confidence, or passion
Regardless of the specific issue, my approach focuses on helping clients identify patterns in their behavior and develop new skills and habits that support a healthier, more fulfilling relationship. Through personalized coaching, we work together to create a plan for positive change and transformation.
What exactly do you work on with clients?
In my work with clients, the ultimate goal is transformation. We cannot expect different outcomes if we continue to do the same things over and over again. Therefore, my approach involves working with clients to identify areas of their lives where they have control and focusing on changing their mindset, actions, and habits in those areas.
The first step is to help clients take 100% accountability for their own behavior and actions. This means examining their role in maintaining the issues they are experiencing and taking ownership of their part in the situation. From there, we work on breaking outdated habits and patterns that no longer serve the client's goals.
One key aspect of my work is helping clients develop their relational intelligence. This involves learning how to be more mindful of their own needs and emotions as well as those of their partner or loved ones. We explore how to communicate effectively and empathetically, build trust, and deepen emotional connections.
Finally, we put these new skills and behaviors into practice. This may involve role-playing, homework assignments, or other exercises designed to help clients build new habits and ways of relating to others. Ultimately, my goal is to help clients achieve lasting transformation in their lives and relationships.
You talk about “relational intelligence” or relational IQ, can you say more about what this is?
Being relationally intelligent means having the ability to navigate relationships effectively and skillfully. It involves being aware of and understanding one's own emotions and those of others, being able to communicate effectively and empathetically, and being able to manage conflicts and build healthy relationships. We can cultivate relational intelligence by learning and practicing active listening, empathy, emotional regulation, and developing a culture of appreciation for our partner and a growth mindset, in which we see challenges and setback as opportunities for learning and growth. By applying these principles, couples can enhance their relational intelligence, build a stronger connection, and create a more fulfilling and satisfying relationship.
What if the issue is with a romantic partner, but s/he does not want to come in?
While it is true that both partners need to be willing to work on a relationship for it to be successful, it is also possible for one person to initiate change and make a significant impact on the dynamic. If your romantic partner is not interested in participating in counseling or coaching sessions, you can still benefit from individual sessions that focus on your own growth and development. Through the Grow™ program, I can help you identify and shift patterns in your behavior that may be contributing to the issues in your relationship.
It's important to keep in mind that the goals and desires of you and your partner may not be aligned. Therefore, it may be necessary to work on your own personal goals and develop strategies for communicating your needs and boundaries within the relationship. While I recommend that both partners participate in counseling, if possible, individual sessions can still lead to meaningful progress and growth.
It's also important to acknowledge that making changes in a relationship can create distance and potentially lead to a decision to separate. However, by focusing on sustainable change and developing healthy communication skills, you can create a stronger foundation for your relationship and increase the chances of a positive outcome, whether that means staying together or moving on.
How are you different from other therapists and coaches?
I differentiate myself from other therapists and coaches in several ways. Firstly, I have over two decades of experience as a licensed therapist, which sets me apart from many life and relationship coaches who may not have the same level of formal training. On the other hand, my experience as a consumer of coaching and my certifications distinguishes me from other therapists who may not have the same exposure to coaching methodologies.
Another aspect that sets me apart is my personal journey of growth and transformation. I have dealt with my own marital issues and ambivalence and invested significant resources into my own personal development. This firsthand experience allows me to connect with my clients on a deeper level and offer genuine empathy and understanding. I am not just an expert who dispenses advice, but rather someone who has walked the same path as my clients and understands the challenges they face.
Finally, I pride myself on being approachable and relatable. I am not afraid to share personal stories with my clients to create a comfortable and non-judgmental atmosphere. My presence is calming, and my clients feel at ease discussing their most intimate issues with me. By creating a safe and supportive space for my clients, I help them explore their thoughts and feelings and find their own path to growth and healing.
How can a client make this successful and what is expected of them?
To make this program successful, clients need to approach it with openness, commitment, and the courage to be vulnerable. While it may be difficult to open up at first, the more you share and feel acknowledged and validated, the more comfortable you will become. It's important to recognize how your reaction to hurt may keep you in an unhealthy relationship dynamic and to be open to seeing what you have control over changing. By being willing to make changes and take action, you can empower yourself and create a more fulfilling relationship.
However, please note that I am very selective in who I work with and choose to turn away clients who may not be suited for my programs and would not get the results they signed up for. This program may not be a good fit for those who just want to vent without taking steps towards change. If you are unwilling to make changes and stretch outside your comfort zone, it may not be the right fit for you. Additionally, if you tend to blame the other person for everything or make excuses for not taking action, this program may not be suitable for you.
What exactly is The Grow Program™?
The Grow Program™ is a signature program designed by me, based on years of experience working with clients dealing with relationship issues. The program takes you through a process of learning how to be in a better relationship with yourself and your partner. Throughout the program, you will get to know yourself better, so that you can show up as the truest, most authentic version of yourself. This requires you to get real and vulnerable, as we unmask the protected parts and look at the vulnerable pieces that need attention.
To become a master of your relationship, you need to take 100% responsibility for yourself, which includes your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. The program uses proven techniques to help you master the art of relationships with yourself and others. We explore the following areas:
Your commitment to being the change: We examine what you have the power to change, no matter what your spouse, partner, or anyone else is doing. By seeing your part in the situation, you can be the change. You will learn how to let go of blame, see things with a new perspective, and be open to growing.
Clarifying what you want for your life and relationship: We get to the vision of what you want to call into your life and relationship, so that you have something to stretch towards. You will learn to live from your values, set daily intentions, and be personally accountable for yourself.
Incorporating daily practices to form new habits: We examine old habits that are not supporting your vision and build in new habits to move you forward. You will learn to incorporate daily, consistent awareness and action to shift out of old patterns and into new ways of being that support your vision. You will also learn how to reconnect with your vision, remember your why, and keep yourself motivated.
Learning to embrace challenges: We examine where you fall into common traps that get you stuck. You will learn mindset strategies to help you meet challenges more openly and learn from these moments to propel your growth. You will build stamina and confidence to keep yourself motivated.
Establishing and following through with boundaries: We examine where you are not being clear with who you are and where you begin and end. We look at where you can define boundaries better and not take on others' issues, creating more stress and overwhelm than you need to. We also establish boundaries around your space, time, and needs. You will learn how to identify, clarify, and communicate your personal boundaries.
Increasing your Relational IQ™: You will learn to become a better communicator with everyone in your life. You will identify your intent, desired state, and outcome, so that you can send the invitation to engage that is aligned with what you truly desire, rather than from a hurt or unhealed place. You will also learn how to heal in your relationships and how to communicate the kind of support you need.
Loving and honoring yourself: We examine ways in which you can become more in tune with yourself, allowing you to show up more fully in your life and relationships. Using tools and practices, you will reconnect with your true essence and empower yourself to value yourself and your role in creating better relationships. You will also learn how to create space for yourself and take up space unapologetically.
Vulnerability and intimacy: We examine where you are holding onto your armor to keep yourself safe, yet out of love. You will learn ways to show up courageously, heal old triggers, and become more playful in life and in your relationship. You will learn how to be more vulnerable and practice sharing more intimately with others, get inspired, and create more playfully.
Does The Grow Program™ work?
Yes, it does. However, the level of success you achieve depends on how much effort and dedication you put into it. As a coach, I work with clients to define what success means for them personally. I encourage my clients to commit to the process of growth and to be willing to step outside their comfort zone to achieve their desired outcomes. It's important to note that showing up for sessions is just one part of the process. The real work happens outside of our meetings when clients take action and apply what they've learned. To facilitate this, I recommend a timeframe for learning and implementing, and I stress the importance of holding yourself accountable for the work. If you commit to the program and are willing to put in the effort, you can experience significant positive changes in your relationships and in your life.
What results can I expect?
You can expect to see positive changes in your life, including increased confidence and a greater sense of control over your relationships. Many clients have reported improved communication skills and the ability to respond to others in a thoughtful and intentional manner. Additionally, you will learn how to set clear boundaries for yourself, navigate relationships with greater awareness, and develop new self-care practices. Overall, the Grow Program™ is designed to help you become more conscious, self-aware, and empowered in your relationships.
How quickly can I expect results?
To see lasting change and results, a minimum commitment of 6 months is required, with the option to continue working together for one year or beyond. However, you can expect to start seeing results soon after we begin working together. It's important to understand that our patterned behaviors can be deeply ingrained from many years of practice and breaking those old patterns will take consistent effort and action. But if you are invested and flexible, you will begin to shift from your old way of thinking to a new vision that is more aligned with who you are and who you want to be. And, while it's natural to fall back into old patterns, I have systems in place to help prevent you from getting stuck and to guide you through the change process during those moments of relapse.
What is the difference between your Coaching & Therapy?
Coaching and therapy share similarities but also have distinct differences. Both offer support, goal setting, and believe in the client's ability to solve problems. They also create structure and accountability, provide resources, and encourage action. The professional in both coaching and therapy is non-judgmental, listens actively, and holds a safe space for processing experiences and trauma.
The primary difference lies in the required training for each profession. Coaching is not a regulated field, meaning that anyone can call themselves a coach. Many coaching certifications exist to educate coaches on the coaching process. Therapists, on the other hand, must have a degree that prepares them to address mental health issues, relationships, and other life concerns. A licensed therapist has met state requirements and is qualified to assess, diagnose, and treat mental health issues. Some therapists obtain additional coaching certification or move into coaching. However, their training alone allows them to provide coaching as long as it falls within the scope of their license.
As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in New York State, I am qualified to provide mental health services/therapy to individuals, couples, or families residing in the state. In addition, I have obtained multiple coaching certifications beyond my therapy training. While coaching and therapy can overlap, I choose to offer coaching in addition to therapy because of the mindset my clients bring to each. My therapy clients often come to therapy with a desire to be "fixed," whereas coaching clients come in with a growth mindset and a desire for guidance and accountability. This difference enables coaching clients to progress more quickly, build confidence, and make a greater impact in their lives. Coaching allows me to handpick my ideal client and find those that fit best with my style of support.
As a coach, I do not address mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, or bipolar disorder. If a mental health issue arises during coaching, or if I become aware of a mental health concern that may impede coaching progress, I will refer clients to a qualified mental health professional for formal diagnosis and therapy. I am unable to provide therapy to my coaching clients, and vice versa. If a client requests therapy, I will provide a referral to a qualified professional or a source for finding a therapist.
Where are sessions held?
To work together, we will use Zoom for our coaching sessions. This allows us to meet face-to-face, even if we're not in the same physical location. Our calls will be recorded, so you can review the conversation again later if you'd like.
What does the Grow™ program cost?
The cost of the Grow™ program varies based on each client's individual needs and goals. To determine if the program is a good fit for you and to get more information on program options and pricing, I invite you to schedule a Connection Call. During this call, we can discuss your unique situation and I can provide you with more personalized information.