About Me

John M. O’Brien, Ph.D.

ACC Certified Coach

I am a Ph.D.-level trained Counseling Psychologist who has been counseling individuals and teaching students since 1996. However, my interest in the application of psychological principles to everyday life began many years prior to that.

My exploration of psychology started in high school and I pursued this as a major at Boston College. However, I had little interest in business when I was in my undergraduate training. I could not see a practical application for these skills in my own future profession. Why should I learn about business? This was true as I continued my psychology training at Tufts University and then Michigan State University. I was more focused on developing skills to provide effective clinical interventions to my clients.

However, when I opened a small group private practice with other owners in 1998, I was suddenly thrown into the role of a business owner. I had to quickly develop abilities in understanding finances and other aspects of managing a practice. Fortunately, I had trusted colleagues with whom to learn the skills needed to run a successful business. Twenty-two years later, we continue to provide high quality services to the greater Portland community.

Throughout my academic and professional career, I have had the good fortune of serving in leadership roles in many different groups and organizations. I am currently the Co-Chair of the Continuing Education Committee for the Society of Consulting Psychology, a division of the American Psychological Association. The two positions that taught me the most about leadership were serving as President of the Maine Psychological Association and as the Managing Partner for Mental Health Associates of Maine. The lessons that I have learned in these positions serve as a foundation of practical knowledge for how to be an effective leader.

As I considered a transition to offer coaching as a professional service, I determined that I should receive specialized training. Over the next two years, I completed a 128-hour intensive coach training through the College of Executive Coaching. I recently completed the requirements and exam to become an Associate Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation (ICF).

I will never forget the parting words of the director of my internship training at the Dallas VA Medical Center as she wished us the very best at our graduation. “Now the learning process truly begins for you.” At the time, I was surprised and confused. “Is it really beginning?” However, after a few years in the field, I realized that she was right. She still is.

My learning continues.

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.
-Louis L’Amour

My Approach

I am an active and engaged thinking partner. My approach as a coach is to both support and challenge clients. Clients benefit from feeling my overall support and encouragement in the coaching relationship. However, I also think that support can involve pushing clients to examine situations or themselves differently. My job as a coach is not to always agree with clients but to ask questions that get them to think more deeply about situations and/or themselves.