After a decade of helping people find fulfilment, Annette Greenwood says life coaching is not just for the rich and famous. Stuart Minting reports

HAVING dedicated decades of her life to working at British Sugar, redundancy hit Annette Greenwood like a juggernaut. In her 40s, she felt as though she had "lost everything", developed depression and anxiety and couldn't figure out what she was supposed to be doing with her life. Her GP offered anti-depressants, but Annette rejected them, taking up Adaptation Practice (AP) to deal with her crippling emotions instead

It was a move which would reshape her life. “It’s a strict discipline," says Annette. "The practice is unique in developing inner strength, emotional resilience and clarity of mind. It is a programme for training in self-discipline with the sole purpose of relieving suffering and improving the quality of life. It also includes meditation."

Although she remained unsure about the direction her life was going in, while working at a deli in Bedale, she heard customers' tragic stories about their losses in the foot-and-mouth crisis. This inspired her to put AP - what would become the bedrock of her new life coaching skills - to the test.

After the success of a Thirsk Community Care project helping people who were isolated find friendship and support, Annette began working with vulnerable women who had been through the judicial system.

"One of things that hit me was that after these women were faced with prison as a possibility, they realised their whole livelihood and children in some cases could be taken away. I believe in second chances so I created a project in community care, giving coaching support to women who had been through the judicial system and those who had other life problems. The project helped them refocus their lives by identifying areas for improvement and changing how they lived. This could be anything from emotional support, gaining employment, learning new skills, dealing with relationship problems including domestic violence, or achieving something they never thought possible.”

This brought the realisation that her coaching sessions could benefit many more. "I thought women on the other side of the system must be going through the same challenges and trials, but nobody would get to hear about it," says Annette. "They might go out with their girlfriends on a Friday night and have a little gossip together, but people wouldn't really know what problems they faced. Whether it was the same issues as the women on the project face or different ones like feeling stuck, not knowing how to make changes, empty nest syndrome, or wanting to take on new challenges, for me, it’s about helping women overcome adversity, whatever that may be."

Leonardo di Caprio, Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and even members of heavy metal band Metallica are all reported to have turned to life coaching to help them find direction in their lives. The results have sometimes been well publicised, and in Metallica's case, recorded for a movie, which has helped foster an industry in the US worth an estimated $2bn a year.

Annette, who has now worked for a decade as a life coach in North Yorkshire finds many people believe life coaching is something you only have if you're wealthy and living in Los Angeles. "That celebrity perception makes it look nice and airy-fairy", says Annette, "but it's not just about being able to hit the high notes and earn millions of pounds, it's about everyday practical things that people don't know how to deal with. While I have worked with women in the judicial system, it doesn’t stop there. I have worked with the Mrs Smiths who don’t want to go to Relate and don't want to talk to friends and family in case they are judged."

Life coaching emerged in the 1990s as a service straddling the area between the role of psychologists and close friends, but it has been slow to develop in North Yorkshire and the North-East, says Annette partly because people are unsure of what to expect. "The first session is a free 45-minute discussion, so people can find out more about what coaching can offer and the benefits it brings," she says. "It’s also an opportunity for potential clients to meet me and ask questions. Sessions are practical and positive and sometimes emotional. There is a point when people realise they don't feel happy in their job, or it may come to light that it's not the job after all, but something else in their personal life."

This helps clear a pathway to decide what needs to be focused upon, says Annette. "I use different strategies and techniques to coach someone to achieve what’s important to them," she says. "It may be they are searching for their passion, or may want to work for themselves, even have more meaningful relationships and communicate better.

“From my experience many women have a lot going on in their lives and try to be all things to all people, taking on all these different personas and often losing their own identity somewhere along the way, just as I did. My passion is working with women because of my own struggles and triumphs."

For details about life coaching sessions, email, call 07743-986840 or visit