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Life coach added to Sewickley Samaritan Counseling Center staff

Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Life coach Curtis Songer, 45, of McCandless, seen in this Friday, April 19, 2013 photo, has contracted with The Samaritan Counseling Center of Western Pennsylvania in Sewickley. Life coaching, he said, looks forward — to deal with behaviors that need to be changed, decisions to be made and actions plans to be developed to meet goals.

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By Joanne Barron
Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 7:16 p.m.

The Samaritan Counseling Center of Western Pennsylvania has taken another step to help people be their “best selves,” said Beth Healey, director of development and marketing.

In addition to the counseling and educational services the center has provided since 1982, Samaritan has introduced life coaching with Curtis Songer of McCandless.

Samaritan serves clients through 10 locations throughout Allegheny, Beaver and Butler counties, including offices in the Sewickley area: 414 Grant St. in The Presbyterian Church, Sewickley and 1106 Ohio River Blvd.

However, Songer said he meets most of his clients in coffee shops throughout the Pittsburgh area.

He also can coach by phone or by Skype, as some of his clients are out of state.

Songer said many times, clients are referred by the Samaritan center when they are finished with therapeutic counseling sessions.

Counseling deals with a client's past, but life coaching, he said, looks forward to deal with behaviors that need to be changed, decisions to be made and actions plans to be developed to meet goals.

Healey said counseling and life coaching both are valuable.

“Counseling — which Samaritan is well-known for — involves addressing crises and mental disorders and fostering healing from trauma, abuse, grief, etc., as well as programs which promote whole health and well-being,” she said.

“Life coaching, on the other hand, is a learning process in which a person is empowered to attain specific personal and/or professional goals. There is a growing demand for life coaching.”

She said men and women of all ages and from all backgrounds seek life coaching to be motivated to be the best they can be.

“They do the work themselves but use a coach to help them discover the strengths and skills they already have and how to best utilize them, set goals, and strategize a plan to achieve the things they want to do or want out of life.”

Songer said he can help those who feel undervalued and unappreciated in their career and need a better work-life balance.

Much of his work is helping people to deal with transitions after they've lost their jobs, moved up a level at work or after divorce. He also assists with parent, child and family relationships, leadership development and college selection.

He has several pastors as clients.

“When they need help, they seem to have the least access to it. Where do they go for help? They need a third party who is unbiased and not as close to the situation,” he said.

Most clients meet with Songer one or two times a week for four to six months.

They also are given an assignment to do over the course of the week, such as journaling and completing online personal assessment forms.

Songer, who was born in Oklahoma and raised in Spokane, Wash., has consulted for a variety of companies. He also has been a life coach for about 20 to 25 years, mostly as a hobby, he said, through his church as a mentor and volunteer.

He was ordained as a pastor five years ago, and continued life coaching as part of his duties as executive pastor for two years at New Community Church in Pine Township.

Once he left the church, he began a private life coaching practice and contracted with the Samaritan center in March.

Healey said Samaritan makes coaching services affordable, by working with clients to understand what they are able to budget and helping them to accomplish goals in as few sessions as possible.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or

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