Life Coach Channels Positive Power for Change

Photo | Christine Darton-Henrichsen, potshots by Christine Life coach Sheila Fram focuses on helping people with life and career transitions.

Photo | Christine Darton-Henrichsen, potshots by Christine
Life coach Sheila Fram focuses on helping people with life and career transitions.


Transitions, while necessary for growth, are also oftentimes hard. Deciding on the change you want to see in your life and determining how to get there involve sifting through complex forces. Kentlands resident Sheila Fram is trained to see these dynamics at play, and she can help you harness them for positive change.

“I thoroughly enjoy it,” Sheila said of her new career as a life and career coach. “I actually love it. This is like the first time in my life … I love the business.”

While Sheila’s start as a life and career coach was recent, learning to see the dynamics of change and helping others to manage them has been a lifelong pursuit.

“I’m an expert in discourse analysis,” she said, “so I actually read people, I read the environment. … I can tell what’s going on by what’s missing and by what’s there. This gives me a wealth of information to work with, so if someone is uncomfortable in a situation, I’ll start automatically looking to see if there’s something that’s setting them off.”

Sheila got her first taste of discourse analysis when completing an undergraduate degree in film studies at Old Dominion University. “It was all about reading messages in films,” she explained. From there, she became interested in architecture and the ideologies that inform it, “how the environment encroaches upon the body.”

Sheila said her background is mainly in education. At Arizona State University (ASU) where she earned her doctorate in education/curriculum and instruction in 2008, Sheila taught in a pre-service teacher education program that included coaching student teachers and observing their instruction as a part of course requirements. She also coached ASU freshman, helping them to decide on the direction of their coursework in an academic success course.

After earning her Ph.D. in 2008, Sheila decided that she didn’t want to stay in academia. She continued to notice opportunities to coach individuals and groups as a part of positions she held. Her skills and experience segued nicely into a career as a professional trainer. She has worked with organizations to manage change, developing a group identity, maintaining group cohesion, handling reorganization and preventing or resolving organizational dysfunction.

Last year as a contractor finishing a project developing a training program, she noticed that she was coaching other contractors on an informal basis during stages of the project. She realized that she still enjoyed helping others in this way and decided to pursue Board certification in coaching with the Center for Credentialing & Education and open her own life and career coaching company, Transition Coaching, LLC.

“When you look at my coaching framework, my theoretical framework, it says sociology because I’m a trained sociologist,” she said, “so that ability to read everything and everyone, I take that with me into every session to make sure that I’m making my client feel comfortable, that everything is OK for the client to talk freely, that the client feels comfortable in the environment. Also, because I know how things can affect somebody, I can tell if there’s an outside stressor coming in and wreaking havoc as part of the context.”

Sheila prefers 60-minute and in-person coaching sessions, but she also offers half-hour sessions and those via Skype and phone. Her business focuses on helping people with life and career transitions like adopting healthy and new social behaviors, moving to another country, starting college, starting a new career or changing careers. She helps a client break the transition down into steps, which sometimes involve behavioral changes, changes in how the client thinks, changes in the client’s environment or social circle. A wide range of complex forces in the client’s life is considered as Sheila works with her client to achieve the desired change.

“I focus on strengths, it’s a strengths-based approach,” she said. “There are some core strengths that people will always have.” Every session has a positive direction, she said, and between sessions clients are asked to complete homework that not only supports progress but also creates a record of their learning.

Coaching, she cautioned, is distinct from therapy. If emotional issues or anything that stems from a client’s past are holding the client back from making a transition, she will talk with the client about how this is impacting the change process and how a psychotherapist can work with him or her to resolve that issue, so as to move forward.

Sheila’s career has taken her from Arizona to Wyoming, Colorado and Iowa, but a desire to be near her parents, who live near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, brought Sheila, her husband, Aaron, and young son, Compton, to the D.C. metropolitan area. She said they chose to live in Kentlands for the schools—their strong academics and diversity—and how Kentlands visually creates community.

For more information about Sheila Fram’s coaching services, visit www.framtransitioncoaching.com.

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