Coach Interview Series: Lori Carpenos

by Brandon

Lori Carpenos

Life Coach, Therapist, and Consultant

Our main objective here at the National Coach Academy is to enable aspiring coaches to reach their full professional potential. One of the most effective ways to educate students about the world of coaching is by offering them a window into the world of real, practicing coaches and showing them all the different ways coaches make a difference in the lives of their clients.

We hope today’s interview adds another insightful glimpse into the dynamic world of coaching.

Today we are interviewing Lori Carpenos. Lori is a Therapist, Life Coach, Consultant, Facilitator, and Writer based in Hartford, Connecticut.

NCA: Can you describe your coaching practice and the kinds of clients you typically work with?

Lori: To answer that question, I think it would be helpful to first explain how I landed in this profession. I never planned to be in this line of work, it was really a matter of serendipity. My training initially was as an art therapist. I was looking for a therapist myself for my own depression in my 20s. One thing led to another and I wound up finding a remarkable teacher who has been a mentor for therapists and also coaches. Even though I’m now a licensed marriage and family therapist, I consider myself more of a mentor because I don’t take people into their past or have them “work through their issues,” which is traditionally what psychotherapy has been involved in.

I think of my work as helping guide people within themselves, to their innate wisdom and common sense; toward what is in their best interest that they themselves already know when their mind is quiet of a lot of the thinking that we all tend to do. We’re thinkers so we’re always thinking, but when you quiet that down, and begin to trust in innate mental wellness and wisdom more than your brain activity, you get to a deeper level of thought where people feel their true nature, their essence, which is really a spiritual essence, before the contamination of personal thinking.

Some people have different ideas about what the word spiritual means. I don’t mean it in a religious sense, but rather that we are part of the formless energy that is behind all of life. It’s the same energy that’s beating our heart and pumping our lungs and healing cuts and wounds. We’re not doing that with our brain.

I attended my first talk by a man named Sydney Banks, in 1985. There are a number of coaches in the field who have also studied with Syd or one of Syd’s students. What I learned from Mr. Banks was that we perceive life from the inside out — from within ourselves, which colors whatever events are taking place, according to how we think of life and our worldview.

There’s a psychiatrist in the Midwest, Dr. Bill Pettit, who was also a student of Syd Banks. He said that in all of his medical school training, he never learned how to be a mental health specialist. He learned how to be a mental disorder specialist because that’s what psychiatrists are learning — all the diagnoses and what’s wrong with people. But what we found from Syd’s amazing insight is that we’re not damaged goods. It’s just our thinking that runs us amok. It’s so wonderful as a mentor to be able to guide someone towards their innate well-being.

We’re born with well-being. You don’t see a baby popping out with depression or anxiety, or unable to create what they want, because they haven’t started to think yet. Babies are not comparing themselves to other babies or thinking they are not good enough! We learn how to do that! We don’t have to learn how to not do that, because as people realize where it comes from, and the Principles explain that so well, they automatically stop generating those negative stories about themselves. And, guess what? When people get out of their own way, they automatically become more industrious, creative and energized. We are creators; it’s who we are – we just have to get out of the way of the natural flow of life.

I was in four years of therapy, one hour a week, from 1980 – 1984, I came out feeling just as depressed but I could tell people why I was depressed – because of my mother, my brother, my father, etc.. Thankfully, I heard Sydney Banks speak to a group of helping professionals, in 1985. Then I realized there’s no blame at all when you begin to see that we are the formulator of our own experience through the Principles of Mind, Thought and Consciousness. They are called principles because they’re true for everybody on the globe. They’re working in tandem constantly to give us a human experience.

So the population I serve is across all ages because everyone, no matter what age, operates from the same Principles that generate the human experience, even young children. There are books written explaining thoughts, feelings, and moods to children, but typically, I would work with the parents. If a child is troubled and the parents wanted me to help the child, I first work with the parents to help the child. There’s absolutely no age limit. Male, female, whatever pronoun the person wants to be called, it doesn’t matter. It absolutely doesn’t matter because we’re all humans having a human experience.

Because I’m a LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist), I do tend to see a lot of couples. I’ve also worked with individuals experiencing addictions, anxiety, depression, etc. A lot of people experience anxiety because they don’t realize that the feeling is coming from their own thinking.

It’s a wonderful profession to be a coach and a mentor. I can’t think of anything that would surpass being able to help people just by sharing what I’ve found to be true in my own life and pointing them within themselves where insights occur.

Can you imagine four years of psychoanalysis? I was in Jungian psychoanalysis. That was interesting but I never felt any better. And just from sitting in a few lectures by a man who did not have any degrees, what he saw on a spiritual level had such a profound effect on me that I never felt depressed again, from that point on. That was over 30 years ago. That’s the power of insight!

I still get sad from time to time, but it doesn’t last very long. I’ll listen to something on the news on the deforestation of the rainforest or what’s happening in Australia, and yes, that’s sad, but I don’t live there. I do what I can. I send in my donation, whatever I can do, but I don’t have to live in depression because of what I’m seeing in the outside world. What we can do is the best we can do at our individual level and have a lot of hope. It’s really healthy to have hope for the future.

Dr. Bill Pettit […] said that in all of his medical school training, he never learned how to be a mental health specialist. He learned how to be a mental disorder specialist because that’s what psychiatrists are learning — all the diagnoses and what’s wrong with people. But what we found from Syd’s amazing insight is that we’re not damaged goods. It’s just our thinking that runs us amok.

NCA: In your work with your clients, what would you say is the most rewarding aspect of that experience?

Lori: The most rewarding aspect is hearing about insights that my clients have had. All I do is listen to how they perceive things, their worldview, if you will, and guide them within themselves for answers. We can see how the human experience works by looking at how we’re perceiving and how our thoughts are coloring life. It’s like having a window into the soul when we know where to look.

For instance, couples always come in and they’re pointing fingers at each other thinking if I would just fix the other person, they’d be good. People call it the blame game but it’s so prevalent with people because they don’t realize that it’s their own thinking that is sending them off to believe that the problem is the other person.

It’s just so incredible to hear some of the insights and sometimes people will come in and they’ll say, “Well, you know when you said XYZ…” And to be quite honest, I never said XYZ! That’s what they heard from their own insight. It’s wonderful to see people really blossom into a healthy individual, which is their birthright. Some of their stories wound up in “The Secret of Love; Unlock the Mystery, Unleash the Magic” that Christine Heath and I wrote over the course of four years. When other 3 Principles colleagues heard we were writing this book they donated stories of their own. They are from all walks of life, including Psychologists, people in business, addiction specialists, etc.

Of course, they’re going to have their ups and downs. They’re going to have their challenges. That’s the nature of being human. But when they see that they can navigate life, they can navigate through those ups and downs by quieting their mind rather than rushing forward and being impulsive and reactionary. That’s just such a joy to witness.

NCA: What is one piece of advice that you would’ve appreciated in your very beginning stage of becoming a coach?

Lori: I would advise them to explore the world of coaching. To see what comes up for them and to see what they want to pursue. It’s really important to get the right teacher. I’ve had a lot of teachers through my therapy practice and I wound up having to unlearn so much of what I learned in graduate school like labeling people and all of the medical model sorts of things. I was just really lucky to stumble upon a great teacher. That would be my number one advice — finding the right teacher for yourself.

Trust your gut – that deeper wisdom that knows. And for anyone wanting to learn what we learned from Syd Banks, my coauthor, Chris Heath, and I run online programs for therapists and coaches; and we are offering a retreat at an all-inclusive in the Caribbean so people can really unwind and see life from a whole new perspective, where there is nothing to think about except which beach they want to go to that day! The next one is the second week of March 2020.

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