Heartbreak finds a helping hand

FREYLA FERGUSON meets Canberra’s first break-up coach, who sees the possibility of emotional growth when a relationship collapses

Break-up coach Joanne Fernance… “I’m not anti-male, I am not anti-marriage.” Photo by Andrew Finch

Break-up coach Joanne Fernance… “I’m not anti-male, I am not anti-marriage.” Photo by Andrew Finch

BREAKING up is always hard to do – however, one woman believes that she has the tools to not only help Canberra women move on from a break up or divorce but rebuild their identity.

Joanne Fernance, a mum of two, is a break-up recovery coach who claims a break up provides the opportunity for growth.

Through her business Joanne Michelle, Fernance coaches women through the tough experience of a divorce or break up using a series of consultations focusing on the principles recover, rebuild and renew.

Fernance, a divorcee herself, launched her business in January and has had a positive response from Canberra women to her services.

“My client base at the moment are women who, after a couple of years, haven’t gotten to the next stage of their life, which is actually very common,” Fernance says.

“They aren’t sure where they want to be. They’re either divorced or going through a divorce.

“A lot of women take a little bit of time to adjust and are unsure of where they want to go and what they want to do and what’s their path.

“I am there to listen and to support them and come up with ideas and goals and visions and where they would like to be and get them motivated and get them moving in the right direction in a positive way.

“I’m not a psychotherapist, I am not a counsellor, I’m not a doctor or dietitian. In saying that, I do collaborative work with them.”

Break-up recovery coaching isn’t a common form of health coaching in Australia, however Fernance says it’s not uncommon overseas.

“No one in Canberra is doing it, which was part of my drive because there wasn’t that support,” she says.

“I still keep in contact with some of the women I completed my health coaching course with and they are like ‘wow, that’s so specific’.”

She says her client base is made up of the 35-plus age group who “have been married for a long time”.

“It’s all very new and they’re unsure of what they’re supposed to do,” she says. “I was in that same situation.”

Fernance began her training in health coaching towards the end of her marriage.

“My marriage wasn’t in a great place so maybe I was looking to do something different and I wanted to do something positive,” she says.

“But then the marriage did break down and I continued to do the course and became qualified and I just found myself helping other people – friends and family.

“You know they’d say: ‘Wow, you’re doing a really great job. What are you doing? What’s your secret?’ and it really went from there. I didn’t really have a lot of support myself, the course supported me.

“I was about to launch my business, which was going to focus on women and families anyway, then I just felt there was a need for [break-up recovery coaching], a need for women to have a little bit of confidence and reassurance that they can move forward and it’s not that scary.

“We’ve all been through break ups and they’re not very nice. It’s just about knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel and there is always a positive and negative.”

So, why not also help men?

“Everybody asks ‘why don’t you do men?’ My son also asks ‘why don’t you do men mum? Men go through the same issues’ and he’s got a good point,” she says.

“Maybe down the track it would be something I want to do but I feel like when you start a business and you’ve got a goal, a mission, a vision – it just seemed to be women. I want to help women move forward and move in a positive way.”

Fernance says her coaching is more about gaining self respect than helping women find their “one”.

“I’m not anti-male, I am not anti-marriage. I haven’t been in a situation where I’ve been able to say: ‘You know what, get out there’,” she says.

“It’s more about them looking after themselves first and respecting themselves, which makes it easier for them to understand – ‘okay, now I am ready’.

“I’m not qualified in dating – all I can do is give them my experience and give them reassurance.”

And what about her? Has she found anyone since her own transformation?

“I’ve dated. I am not sure if I’m looking for ‘the one’ just yet,” she says.

“I am so busy with the kids and the business. I am definitely open to it, but I am not out there looking for the one.

“I’ve done a lot of the online dating, tested it out and seen what it was all about and met some really nice people. But not yet.”

Next up for Fernance is the development of her own book based on the idea of “suddenly single; where to from here?”.

“I’ll be interviewing people, lawyers, therapists, doctors, sex therapists, I want to give everyone an overview of ‘okay, I am single, now what?’,” she says.

She says her ultimate vision for her business would be to grow internationally.

“I’d like to have online programs for women that would be easy, quick and can be done at their own pace if they don’t have the time to do face-to-face sessions,” she says.

“I want to be able to have this book that I can share with the world.”

More information at joannemichelle.com.au

 

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