Schaumburg Author Louise Cohen:“Each of us possesses the innate strength needed to overcome obstacles and improve our own lives.”
Louise Cohen always knew what she wanted out of life. She wanted to move to New York, find an exciting job in the fashion industry and see the world. The St. Louis native did all that and more. But there were ample challenges and heartaches along the way, including job loss, relationship losses and the death of her parents.
She began to question the meaning of life and her own purpose. How could she be of more service to others? She enrolled in night school to complete her graduate degree and become a licensed clinical psychotherapist. Today she works as a mental health therapist at Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital in Hoffman Estates.
While it’s her job to help others heal, she personally finds comfort in service to others. “I am always moved by the courage I see in clients trying to overcome their life challenges,” she says. “I believe they are able to accomplish this because of their own life experiences and innate strengths, or ‘treasures within.’”
Cohen has committed her thoughts to paper. Insight Publishing deemed her contributions worthy enough to find company alongside those of self-help powerhouses Deepak Chopra (The Power of Purpose), Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Denis Waitley (The Secret), among others, in its recently published anthology, Stepping Stones to Success.
In the book, Cohen shares her thoughts about how to successfully handle the ups and downs of life, how to realize the positive qualities each of us has within, and how to create opportunities through obstacles, whether in business or personal life.
“We have to realize that whatever challenges are coming at us, we were created to have the ability to solve them by getting support from others, learning new ideas, getting a coach or a therapist, taking classes. We have the ability to overcome these obstacles,” Cohen says. “It opens new doors, new parts of you that you haven’t even used yet, to create more success, more fulfillment, more joy in your life. I experience it when I look at my own life.”
Living the Dream
While in her 20s, Cohen arrived in New York with two dreams – to become a professional jazz vocalist and to land a job in the fashion industry. While most people her age were listening to rock ‘n’ roll, Cohen was listening to the likes of Miles Davis. “I would use the music as a way to transform any negative feelings,” she says, explaining that her older brother introduced her to jazz. “I would turn on the music, dance and sing in the living room. It was such a creative force.” Cohen sat in as a singer with many New York and Chicago groups but, ultimately, singing took a backseat to her other career.
She worked in the marketing department of Seventeen magazine, then as an account executive for a small ad agency, before becoming ad director for a beauty company with worldwide salons. She met a young fashion designer, Jon Haggins, who hired her to help choreograph his fashion shows, before she moved on to London and Paris to work as a fashion consultant. Next, she became a merchandise manager for a large international fiber company. “The life experiences I had from living in a number of cities and traveling globally has helped me to give my clients a broader view of success,” she says.
“Louise has a passion for whatever she does,” says Haggins, now a motivational speaker, host and producer of “Globetrotter TV,” a lifestyle travel show in New York. “She puts her teeth into anything she does and she goes for it. I admire her for that.”
During the height of her career, however, Cohen lost some of her closest relationships. Her parents succumbed to cancer within six years of each other and she parted ways with her boyfriend, a loss, she says, “that also felt like a death.” To sort out her feelings, Cohen sought therapy, a decision that would change her life forever. “I still loved the fashion industry, but something was changing in me,” she says. “The process of therapy was so fascinating to me – how it helps people, how it can change your life. That’s what stimulated me to change my career.”
Cohen went back to school to earn her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Fordham Lincoln Center, and her master’s degree in social work at Hunter’s College, both in New York City, before doing post-graduate training at the Center for Family Learning in New Rochelle, N.Y. After she graduated, Cohen interned at Cancer Care Inc. and started a small private therapy practice.
Eventually, Cohen went to work for Talbot Perkins Children’s Services, which had received a special grant from New York City to put social work consultants into preschools to work on child abuse prevention. After 9 years, the grant was cancelled, leaving Cohen jobless for the first time in her life. Struggling to find a new job and living on savings, she moved back to St. Louis.
“I had been independent all my life, traveling all over the world by myself, and now I had to move back in with family,” she says. “It was a blow to my ego, but, at the same time, it was one of the greatest things that happened to me. It allowed me to deepen my relationship with my family and accept help from people. It totally changed me as a human being.”
Five years ago, Cohen made another significant change when she moved to Schaumburg to be closer to the Sukyo Mahikari Centers for Spiritual Development, a nonprofit spiritual and community service organization, where she has been a long-time volunteer. “My training at the Center has had the most profound influence in my work as a therapist and coach, to believe that each person has the ability to create life success and overcome obstacles,” she says.
“Nowadays, a lot of people will give you advice, but I don’t think that kind of help solves the problems,” says Kevin Stratmann, director of the Sukyo Mahikari Centers in Chicago and Washington, D.C. “Louise will ask the tough questions to make people look deeper within themselves. One thing that moves me about Louise is that, in spite of being very educated, she is always so modest and willing to put herself on the level of others.”
Two years ago, John (not his real name) was going through a painful divorce and job loss in a span of four months. Through an employee assistance program, he began counseling with Cohen, and then decided to hire her as a life coach.
“Louise helped me to see things in a different light,” he says. “I was in a one-sided relationship and I was trapped in a job which, while it was high-paying, didn’t offer me real satisfaction and happiness. Louise helped me to see the positive strides I made reclaiming my own identity and my own happiness. By leaving my relationship and work, I had an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.”
Six years ago, Cohen connected with Mentor Coach Training Institute, which teaches therapists to become life and professional coaches. She founded her own business, Positive Attitude Coaching, which helps clients to state their problems clearly so they may understand and solve them. “As a coach, I believe that you already have the knowledge and skills you need for the solution. My job is to help you bring out those skills and use them effectively,” she says. “My passion is to encourage clients to realize this knowledge for themselves so they can actualize lives of success and fulfilment.”
Helping people to understand that they can fix their own problems is essential.
“Learning that they have the power to control their attitudes and that they can use their inner gifts to create success is important,” Cohen says. “I’m coaching people who are successful, but may be going through a transition, like a career change. They may be searching for a better life balance. I focus on what they are doing right, rather than what is going wrong.” ❚
In Stepping Stones for Success, Cohen shares with readers strategies to overcome challenges and create more opportunities for success
- Apologize when you’re wrong.
- Congratulate yourself for even one small success instead of waiting for compliments from others.
- Make a commitment to be kind to yourself and others.
- Stop and listen when you’re in conflict.
- Create a friendlier workplace instead of complaining about the negativity from managers and colleagues.
- Laugh at yourself when you make a mistake.
- Ask for help.
- Fine-tune your radar to alert you when you are being overwhelmed and then set boundaries.
- Cultivate appreciation for the inner gifts of your spirit.
- Manage your own time and energy instead of blaming others for your frustrations.