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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Sandpiper Life and Wellness

Aug 01, 2016 11:12AM ● By Sheila Julson

Marilu Garofola

Certified Professional Coach Marilu Garofola realized that she always had a knack for lending an ear when people wanted to open up to her about challenges and goals in their lives. One of her friends had also noticed and recommended to Garofola that she’d make an ideal professional coach. “I found myself listening to people all the time, and the more I started to think about it, I thought that maybe I’m already in tune to other people and they feel comfortable with me,” she recalls.

After a divorce, Garofola felt the need to reinvent herself and start fresh. She studied life and wellness coaching through the International Coaching Academy, and after becoming accredited through that organization, she opened Sandpiper Life and Wellness coaching in 2012. Since May, she also offers coaching three days per week at Tree of Life Health Ministries, in Ephrata.

Life coaching can empower and motivate clients, helping them find the tools for personal growth and achieving goals, but coaching should not be interchanged with counseling, Garofola emphasizes. “Coaching is different from counseling or consulting. A coach is never there to tell the client what to do or to give them advice. Coaching is based on the idea that the client knows what’s best for them and that they need to find that out for themselves and take ownership. My job is to really listen and to loosely guide them to find answers,” she explains. Clients must be willing to work on their situations, rather than expecting Garofola to fix their lives. If she believes that a client’s needs are best suited for therapy or counseling, she will refer them to another professional that can help.

Garofola’s clients include people seeking to improve their health by eating well and getting into shape; people with relationship problems; entrepreneurs that want to take their businesses to the next level; and people seeking career changes. While she primarily coaches adults, she also sees many teens and enjoys working with that age group. “Teenagers, especially those in their senior year of high school, are in such a spot where they’re trying to figure things out and determine what to do after graduation,” she observes. “They’re trying to get through that muddled time of life where they wonder ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What do I want to be?’ They’re also dealing with relationships and peer pressure, so teenagers can gain a lot out of coaching.”

Coaching is all-encompassing, touching on every aspect of one’s life. Garofola says that it’s not uncommon to have a client come in for guidance on one issue, only to open up and talk about other things happening in their lives. A client seeking to shift toward a healthier lifestyle may gradually open up about workplace stress and discover how that stress is sabotaging their health goals. One may come in for divorce coaching, which can lead to coaching about parenting, relationships and dating. “There’s a flow to coaching in life that people don’t realize,” she remarks.

Garofola strives to form trust-based relationships with her clients to help them be the best they can be. She stays motivated when she sees her clients realize what they need to do—and then actually accomplish their goals. “When someone comes in and is so motivated, energetic and ready to get to that next step, it energizes me as well,” she says happily.

Marilu Garofola of Sandpiper Life and Wellness can be reached at 717-405-8344. For more information, visit or contact Tree of Life Health Ministries, 15 Pleasure Rd., in Ephrata, at 717-733-2003.

Sheila Julson is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer and contributor to Natural Awakenings magazines throughout the country.

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