Shandra Wilson | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Shandra Wilson

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Between her son, her full-time job and life coaching, Shandra Wilson, 35, says her biggest challenge is "having time to do everything."

During the day, the Bolton, Miss. native works as a psychotherapist at a local mental health facility. In the evenings and on weekends—in between her 8-year-old son's football practices and games—Shandra is a life coach. As a life coach, she helps steer people in the right direction in all aspects of their lives. Rather than concentrating on specific emotional disturbance and dysfunction, and weighing heavily on the past like a therapist might, a life coach focuses on the positive aspects of someone's life and gives them constructive advice to help get them on track for the future.

Wilson first found her love for helping people while working with at-risk children in a mental health center during an internship at Mississippi State, where she received her bachelor's degree in educational psychology and master's degree in counseling. After working in Starkville and Slidell, La., in the mental health field, Wilson moved back to Jackson. She wanted to live at a slower pace and be near her family. "Jackson is home," she says. "My son needed his grandparents."

Parenting, marriage, work and friendships are just a few of the areas in which Wilson helps her clients. "It is very rewarding to see the gradual change in people and the hope for change," Wilson says. "People are more encouraged to come to therapy now as awareness has increased through television and even accommodations for things like ADHD in schools," Wilson says. "Life coaching does not have any of the traditional stigma of therapy or counseling. I hate to say it, but it is the 'in thing' to see a life coach."

Being a life coach has helped Wilson in her own life as she balances her two jobs and raises a son as a single mom. "When I find myself going down a path I've advised someone else not to go down, I try to change," she says. "It keeps me on track to be able to ask myself, 'what would I tell a client in this situation?'"

Fear is a common problem Wilson sees in people's lives. "There is a lot of fear in Jackson, and people's lives are disconnected. We don't have a real community," Wilson says. "Part of the problem is a lack of things to do as businesses and resources are leaving the city. We need more family-oriented businesses and more neighborhoods banding together."

Wilson doesn't think that people need to reinvent the wheel to increase their connections. "Be realistic about your fear and become more friendly. Meet new people at your church. Strike up a conversation at your local coffee shop."

Contact Shandra Wilson at 601-212-8070.

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