Grief Coaching, Counseling, and Spiritual Direction

We Will Support You Wherever You Are in Your Grief Journey

We provide coaching, counseling, and spiritual direction for people experiencing the complicated grief that follows the sudden loss of a loved one.  We are able to engage clients face-to-face in Phoenix, Arizona and surrounding areas.  We can also conduct Skype and phone sessions in any time zone, regardless of location.

One-on-One Coaching

One-on-one coaching offers the opportunity to move through your grief at your own pace.  It gives you the opportunity to receive focused, personalized attention to help you move through your grief so that you get the answers and resources you need at exactly the time you need them. Regardless of the cause of your loss, we work together to create a series of small steps that will positively impact your ability to experience joy and happiness once again. Having a coach by your side helps you identify healthy approaches to healing and recovery.  You will be equipped with your own “owners manual” so that you have the ability to integrate you loss into your life in a meaningful and powerful way.

Grief Counseling

The purpose of grief counseling is to help individuals work through the feelings, thoughts, and memories associated with the loss of a loved one. Although grieving can occur for other types of loss as well (such as loss of goals, ideals, and relationships), grief counseling is generally directed toward positive adjustment following loss after the death of a loved one.  Grief counseling helps the individual recognize normal aspects of the grieving or mourning process, cope with the pain associated with the loss, feel supported through the anxiety surrounding life changes that may follow the loss, and develop strategies for seeking support and self-care.

 Spiritual Direction

Often times, survivors of traumatic loss face crises in their faith and have many questions about their relationship with God and their spiritual community.  Some find themselves angry with God while others may develop a stronger relationship with God or the Divine and their spiritual community.  In today’s worlds, spiritual direction is becoming an important pat of our life journey.  A spiritual director will help you understand how you relate to God, how God is or is not present in your life, and will explore with you the spiritually based struggles that you face.  Our spiritual directors are trained to be able to give direction to people from any denomination or religious background.

The Difference Between Coaching and Counseling

If you have questions about receiving coaching or counseling to help you on your journey, here is some useful information.  This is not to suggest that one is better than the other,  in fact they work well together.  Both practices provide help and assistance to their clients.

How is Grief Counseling Different from Grief Coaching?

Grief counseling or psychotherapy focuses on emotional and behavioral issues with the goal of bringing the client to normal functioning.  This is often focused on dealing with the trauma of the past, working through the emotions of the loss.  We recommend that if you are a new survivor, you seek counseling as a first step in your recovery journey as you will have  an unending web of emotions and many questions about your loss.  Often times, a therapist or counselor is especially helpful for complicated grief when there are several hindrances to normal life functioning as a result of the loss. Counseling helps in alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression by removing baseless fears and better coping with the circumstances.

Coaching is a collaborative relationship to help you move forward, especially after a traumatic loss.  It helps you map out a plan to address the “what’s next for me?” question.  There are often many questions about what is next in life for them, how can they go back to the life they once had, how can they move forward?  The goal of coaching is to help you move from wherever you are in your grief journey to where you want to be.   As a client you play an active role in describing the life with new meaning that you may be aiming for.  Coaches work with their clients to reach specific life goals that enhance their growth in the absence of limiting emotional difficulties.

Coaches and Counselors

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Gina Pollard

Gina Pollard
Gina PollardM.Div., CTSS
Gina Pollard is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®, a Certified Trauma
Support Specialist, and a Life Transition Coach.

Gina helps people deal with grief, loss, past abuse issues, and the segue of
moving into new life stages. Her experience in leading support groups for
abuse, and in providing pastoral care, gives her an in-depth understanding of what it means to feel deep pain, need a glimmer of hope, and do the work
necessary to have a fulfilling life.

A self-described hope junkie, Gina loves to journey with others by helping
them validate the whole of who they are in the world and in their lives.

Gina earned her Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary.
She holds certifications from The Grief Recovery Institute and the Trauma
Institute International.

Joan Matlock

Joan Matlock
Joan Matlock
Joan is a licensed marriage family therapist, currently practicing at EricsHouse. During her 30 plus years as a clinician in California and Arizona, Joan has worked with a diverse clientele in multiple settings. Marriage, motherhood, divorce and the death of her only son Josh, brought unknown sorrow, self-reflection and growth. Joan’s professional and personal journeys have culminated along a common theme of learning to thrive through change; the losses, the lessons and the gifts.

Marianne Gouveia, CPC

Marianne Gouveia, CPC
Marianne Gouveia, CPCCertified Professional Coach, Grief Recovery Specialist, Transitions Coach
Marianne has spent most of her adult life working as an executive in the aerospace industry. She left her corporate life to pursue a career as an Executive Coach. During her training, Marianne experienced the unthinkable and most horrific death of her youngest son Eric James. As she struggled to find peace and acceptance, she redirected her coaching practice to Grief Coaching, receiving certification in the Grief Recovery Method. She is the President and Founder of Insightful-Living, a coaching practice devoted to helping others work through loss and complicated life transition so that they may once again experience joy and happiness in their lives. She also leads retreats for a Catholic Ministry, Emmaus for Grieving Parents, welcoming grieving parents from all faiths on their spiritual journeys after the loss of their precious children of any age by any cause, no matter how long ago. You can visit their website at (

Outside of her professional life, Marianne has personally experienced a number of life transitions encompassing career, business, loss of a sibling, loss of a child, loss of parents, a divorce, a Downs Syndrome child, a Downs Syndrome sister, and is a cancer survivor as well.

Shiela Howe, LMFT

Seila Howe
Seila HoweLMFT
Sheila is certified in spiritual direction, EMDR, grief therapy, and integrative health and lifestyle transformation-IHelp, from the University of Arizona’s Integrative Medicine Program. Since 1983 Sheila has worked as a mental health clinician within a variety of settings, connecting with a diverse population of clients. Sheila has extensive experience teaching and instructing undergraduate and graduate students in counseling, psychology, family science/human development and spirituality programs. Sheila has developed and created community psycho-educational and enrichment programs, workshops and seminars in spirituality, family life and mental health, as well as creating, developing and managing a church sponsored and community mental health clinic in Gilbert.

Sheila Howe has been married for 35 years and has raised three adult children. She enjoys gardening and growing her food, hiking and jogging with her dogs and is joyously grateful for her vocational and personal journey.

April Boyden 

April Boyden
April Boyden Interfaith Deacon and Grief Coach
April Boyden is a Spiritual Companion, Interfaith Chaplain, Art as Intuition Facilitator, and a Grief Coach. April has served as a hospital, hospice and congregation chaplain for more than 30 years and currently serves as Campus Minister for the Arizona State
University Polytechnic Campus. Certified as a Spiritual Companion in 1999,
she has more recently continued her studies at the Chaplaincy Institute in
Berkeley, California where she expanded her love and knowledge of the
spiritual practices of the world’s many and diverse faith paths.

April is an artist, a singer of comfort music, and an Enneagram enthusiast.
Painting mandalas, Collage as a way to listen to intuition, and Sand Play
for telling one’s spiritual story, are some of her favorite tools for
spiritual exploration.

Spiritual Directors

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Jean Nictakis

Jean Nictakis
Jean NictakisBA Communications, Spiritual Director, Student of Healing Touch
As a stay-at-home mother of three grown children and a wife of 33 years, Jean is now dedicating her time and energy to the service of others. Raised in the Roman Catholic Church, Jean ventured out to study all the world’s religions determined to find the commonalities among them. A natural progression led to the study of A Course in Miracles, Richard Rohr, and many other non-traditional spiritual outlets. Jean graduated from a one year study in Eastern Meditation from the Self Realization Fellowship and has found a spiritual home at The Franciscan Renewal Center in Paradise Valley. Currently, Jean is a Spiritual Director, a student of Healing Touch, and the less-significant part of an Animal Therapy team.

Carole Whittaker, PhD.

Carole Whittaker, PhD
Carole Whittaker, PhDPhD, Chemistry and Enneagram Master
Carole Whittaker earned a doctorate in Chemistry at UCLA. Since retiring fron careers in teaching and science education and in agricultural businesses, Carole has been engaged in support adult spiritual growth. She has taught classes, led retreats, offered individual spiritual direction and developed programs at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Christian spirituality, contemplative prayer, personal development and faith formation.

Carole is certified through the Enneagram Professional Training Program with Helen Palmer and Davie Daniels as a teacher for the Enneagram of Personality Types. In addition to using the Enneagram as a teaching tool for exploring and enhancing personal development, Carole has developed and coordinated the presentation of an extensive curriculum of Enneagram programs for helping students understand and move beyond their personality type. For more information on Enneagram, click here The Enneagram Institute.


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Susan Grau, CADEC 11 Master Evidential Medium

Susan Grau
Susan GrauIn the Light Services
Susan grau is an internationally recognized psychic medium based in Southern California who has been able to communicate with spirit from age four when she had a near death experience . She owns her own business in Tustin, CA called “In The Light Services”. Susan is a highly skilled Master teacher of the metaphysical arts. She speaks at consortiums, writers conventions and is a sought after lecturer at many healing events including the Orange County IANDS association where She speaks to groups regarding her connection to the other side, her near death experience, and her own personal struggle with the suicide deaths of three of her own family members. She is an author of several soon to be published books regarding the afterlife, growing up an empath, connecting to spirits and details of her NDE. Susan is a life coach , and has studied under international renowned mediums such as Tony Stockwell, Lisa Williams, James Van Praagh and Lynn Probert. She has been featured in OA magazine, spirit anchor and on Empire Radio station in New York. She has also been interviewed and featured on Mary Giuliani live in Orange County, Ca. Susan works with her abilities to bring healing to those seeking insight. Susan’s ratings show her as one of the top rated mediums and healers by the Yelp community.

Melinda Vail

Melinda Vail
Melinda VailThe Medium Who Makes A Difference
Melinda Vail lives and works in Tempe, Arizona, where she maintains a successful practice as the leading intuitive therapist in the Southwest. She is also a certified hypnotherapist, lecturer, and author of Morning Musings by Melinda and If you Could See Inside Me, a book on anti-bullying. Melinda’s additional certifications include: Three Stages of Healing, Victims of Sexual Trauma, and Advanced Training in Childhood Trauma. She helps survivors of suicide with their grief about their loved ones. She is known as The Medium Who Makes a Difference. Melinda has three children, Jason, McKennan, and Amanda; as well as a grandchild who holds her heart, Elliot. All three of her children are involved with the healing arts. Melinda enjoys attending the symphony, traveling, charity galas, and is known for her random acts of kindness.

Holistic Healing

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Charles Harn

Charles Harn
Charles Harn Certified Acupuncturist
Charles Harn is a licensed and Nationally Board Certified Acupuncturist in the state of Arizona. Charles received his Masters of Oriental Medicine degree from Florida College of Integrative Medicine in Orlando. Charles specializes in treating emotional issues including stress, anxiety, depression and grief. Acupuncture is a safe and drug free way to address both physical and emotional issues.

Karen Janusz

Karen Janusz
Karen JanuszCertified Reiki Practitioner
Karen Janutz is a Certified Nutritionist, AASDN, an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach, a Certified Yoga Instructor, SCW, a Certified Brain Fitness Facilitator, American Senior Fitness Association, and a Certified Reiki Practitioner.

Kim Balzan

Kim Balzan
Kim BalzanSound Healing
Kim is a Holistic Practitioner certified in many different modalities, with the most passion going into Vibrational Sound, working with her Alchemy Crystal Bowls and gongs. She is a Certified Advanced Amrit Method Yoga Nidra Facilitator, Reiki Master Teacher, 200-hour ERYT, and a Kundalini Yoga Teacher, currently working on Level 2.