Winchester counselor finds niche in coaching

Fred Sabia

Fred Sabia

WINCHESTER — In Fred Sabia’s new office at Lighthouse Counseling & Coaching, 123 Amherst St., Winchester, there’s a podium attached to the top of his desk. This allows him the option of standing while working, part of an effort to keep from sitting too long.

Standing instead of sitting boosts his metabolism and can ease a host of other health conditions. It also keeps him more alert.

“It just lifts your spirits,” said Sabia, 58.

Small changes like this can make big differences in a person’s life, and it’s exactly the sort of thing he tells clients of his business, previously Lighthouse Counseling, which recently added life coaching.

A good life coach challenges and motivates in much the same way that the coach of a sports team does.

“But you do the work,” he said.

A licensed professional counselor, Sabia has worked as a marital and mental health therapist for 22 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in theology and a master’s in counseling. He started Lighthouse Counseling in 2003, which he renamed last year.

Advised by his own life coach, whom Sabia hired to help him get his coaching business up and running, Sabia decided to focus his niche on three types of coaching: marriage and relationships, men at mid-life and teenagers.

He thought about it for years before deciding to take a four-month course through the American Association of Christian Counselors and become certified as a life coach.

Part of that decision was timing. He said he hoped to help people struggling to make changes in their lives in a down economy, such as switching careers or improving on what they have.

“The need is great,” he said.

His counseling client base ranges from Romney, West Virginia, to Luray and even Alexandria. Since adding in coaching in January, he uses Skype to video chat with a new client from upstate New York, who used to live locally.

In counseling, Sabia said the therapist is more active in helping clients find solutions to problems that sometimes start in childhood. In coaching, however, his job is more asking questions for clients to answer themselves.

Coaching typically requires less time to take effect, and a coach-client relationship might last only a few sessions or continue once or twice a month.

Coaching also has a different connotation, and Sabia said he’s found his younger clients feel more comfortable meeting with a coach instead of a counselor.

Though each group he coaches requires a different approach and often face unique situations depending on where they are in life, they share similarities too.

Teens, couples and mid-life individuals all face new challenges and all potentially find themselves staring into the unknown.

Recently preparing to coach his first couple earlier this week, Sabia said he was excited and felt positive about the prospect.

The couple wasn’t looking for anything extensive or long term.

“We want a tune-up,” he remembered the husband telling him.

That’s the difference between counseling and coaching, Sabia suggested.

“How do you want to make something good better?”

Contact Lighthouse Counseling & Coaching at 540-665-9585, or at, where Fred Sabia also keeps a blog.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or

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