WASHINGTON — For Tal Fagin, her life-coaching business officially began four years ago, in 2014, but unofficially she said she has been doing it her whole life. “As a child and teenager, people came to me with their problems,” she said.
Today, the former New York lawyer who transplanted to Litchfield County is the mother of three and the owner of Tal Fusion, a life-coaching and fitness business. Fagin conducts one-on-one sessions as well as group workshops (one recently discussed unplugging from technology). Fagin is also the advice columnist for Happening in the Hills’ “Coaching Corner.”
“Most of the people I work with want to be clear,” she said. “What they want to be clear on is an inner voice that we all struggle with. Perhaps we feel we are not doing enough or perhaps too much, and in which case, what can we do to slow down?”
Fagin is clear that a life coach is not a therapist. She said a typical client is mentally healthy, accomplished person who simply desires more out of life. She said she mostly asks a lot of questions of her clients. “I guide people so that they can come up with the answers themselves,” she said. “My clients run the gamut. Some coaches have a selection of, say, women who are we re-entering the workforce. Others deal with entrepreneurs. I have kept my practice very general.”
But one thing her clients may have in common is an inner obstacle, she said. “The inner voice tends to be negative, an obstacle, and it can become paralyzing,” she elaborated. “I encourage clients to get to know your inner voice. I get them to sense the feeling of the thought, the thoughts that don’t feel good physically in your body. You identify patterns. Does the thought pattern make me feel heavy, tired, anxious, have my stomach in knots? Then you notice physically what it does to you: it restrains you from putting yourself out there. You feel defeated, and perhaps you say ‘Forget it!’”
Fagin said these physical manifestations can perpetuate a vicious cycle. “The coaching is about identifying unhealthy limits and thought patterns,” she explained, “and we work to create a new story with new possibilities.”
Fagin has described herself as “a trustworthy confidant, an engaged listener, (and) an enthusiastic wing woman.” She said in-person sessions take place in her home office and settings that “range anywhere from White Memorial in Litchfield, to a coffee shop, to other people’s offices.”
Fagin said she does not keep track of the number of her clients. “I am plenty busy but I do not count them,” she said. “My clients run the gamut. There are some I speak to once in a one-off session and there are those that I have spoken with every week for two years — plus everything in between.”
Fagin also conducts group workshops locally that can be beneficial for potential clients possibly wary of committing to a one-on-one session. “In terms of the workshops,” she explained, “it (the reason for attending a workshop) feels very personal, like you are the only one in the world not as accomplished as others.” She said she saw the same things were coming up again with individual clients: “These are the same things so I discuss in these workshops.” She added that about the workshop setting: “Everything we discuss is confidential, as in individual therapy. We offer tools. It’s the same thing as one-on-one but in a group setting. What is amazing about the workshops is it is an opportunity to get that message. I see through the knowing sighs and nods from people during the workshops, the shared familiarity.”
Some of Fagin’s previous workshops included “Let Your Body Be Your Guide” in October 2017 at Ah Yoga and Wellness Center in New Milford, in which participants were, among other things, guided to reduce stress and make better decisions using a greater awareness of their bodies. Fagin will also repeat a more recent workshop she conducted May 3 at Valley Spirit Cooperative & Wellness Center in Washington Depot entitled “Breaking the Tech Bind.” “It will be about getting control of your digital life,” she said.
Fagin said although her years as a New York corporate attorney dealing with Fortune-500 companies has assisted her in her business, the life coaching vocation could not be more different. “I pursued law through college, then law school, and was practicing corporate law primarily for financial reasons,” she said. “This practice of life coaching is different. It is a labor of love. And I love it so much.”
Fagin started coming up on weekends to Washington in 2006. “We became full-time residents in 2013,” she said. “The transition has been amazing. We really fell in love with this part of the world. We feel more rooted.” She added, “I have three kids: 7, 10, and 12.”
To any possible skepticism about life coaching, Fagin would offer the following: “You should try it and see for yourself. I am not here to sell anyone. That’s the beauty of it. I am passionate about what I do. I give people advice, but it is going deeper in yourself, confronting your fears, what is holding your back, and what is showing up in your life. I ask clients ‘Can we think about this a little differently?’ and ‘Can we see this from a different perspective?’ I empower themselves and their families.”
Fagin’s services include one-on-one coaching in-person or on the telephone for one hour for $125, and $600 for six sessions. She also offers new clients one 30-minute free consultation to discuss her approach to coaching and to ask any questions.
Fagin said a typical session will begin to identify where feelings show up in the client’s body. “Once we identify the sensations, you start to link up with his happening,” she said. “For example, your neck hurts. Why is that? It could be a simple adjustment to your work space, but it also could be a fight-or-flight reaction. For example, are you clenching your jaw? Are your fingernails digging into your fist? A lot of us are on autopilot. In coaching, we track the following: how do you spend your days and how is it making you feel?”
Fagin studied with, and got her life-coaching certification with renowned life coach Dr. Martha Beck. Beck was talk-show host and guru Oprah Winfrey’s life coach, though at the time Fagin said she had never heard of Beck. “A friend recommended her to me,” she said. Fagin enrolled on Beck’s website and trained for 10 months in a combined online and telephone course with Beck as well as Beck’s associates.
Having been schooled in an acclaimed life coaching course communicates perhaps a level of skill and commitment that other coaches possibly do not possess. Fagin pointed out: “Life coaching is not a regulated industry so any you don’t have to get registered for it.”
Fagin said the life-coach training she received was rigorous enough to make her look closely at her own life’s issues. “Rule number-one is you live it to give it,” Fagin said, talking about her life-coaching training’s philosophy. “The stuff I give my clients is stuff I do as well. I tracked my own sensations with negative thoughts, wanting, for example, to be more patient with, say, parenting and looking at how can I look situations differently.”
Fagin has described her own personal contentment as having been hard-fought. She stated that she had been at one time where her clients may be: confused, scared, and alone. She added that she has learned through “experience, introspection, and coaching” how to design her own life.
For a few years now Fagin has written an advice column, “Coaching Corner,” for the website Happening in the Hills. The column is notable in that Fagin tackles weighty subjects in a non-glib, in-depth, commonsense, yet not somber way. She gives advice to people asking about such topics as: putting the spice back in marriage; losing weight; “the comparison game;” and smartphone or tech addiction.
“I have been writing in a public way,” she said. “This is something new for me. I love writing but I never thought I was not a writer. I was a lawyer. I would write what would be blog posts and essays strictly for friends. It has been the direct result of my own life coaching that I had started writing the column.” The advice Fagin gives in the column is considered without being didactic. “Sometimes I want the column to be shorter but people have the patience to read,” she said, “and I don’t want to do a lesser job. Happily, Happening in the Hills has no word limit.”
The writing continues in other forms as well. On her website, Fagin’s blog topics include “Beyond Resolutions — Ten Tips for a Successful New Year;” surviving and thriving in the holiday season; and doing a “positivity challenge” for 29 days.
Fagin also works closely with clients who struggle to write. “To write is an act of courage,” she added. “I have clients who won’t call themselves writers. They have a lot of self-limiting thoughts, such as they’re not saying anything new or who will care about what they say? Or they have fear of rejection and failure.”
In addition to working in-person, Fagin works also by phone, Skype, or FaceTime. Fagin explained, “My clients are all over the country. I prefer in-person, but I have gotten adept at recognizing things going on with the voice.” She said she has developed a sense of her clients’ voices that is akin to reading body language: “A cadence comes across over the phone, a relaxation, a moment when people pause.”
When asked how she came up with the business’ name Tal Fusion, she said it came prior to starting her life-coaching business, adding, “Interestingly enough, I was debating an April 2014 start date or September. I went with September 2014 because I was doing an exercise class which is a blend of various modalities, including yoga, Pilates, barre work, mostly with my friends at my house. I was busy with that.” She intends to pick up the exercise classes in the future, adding, “I decided that the name Tal Fusion also applied to my life-coaching practice because what I use in terms of tools is a fusion, a combination of techniques.”