Change Maker

Life coach provides tools for success

By Jessica Laskey
August 2022

Marie Copher knows how difficult it is to change careers. She left her longtime job as a social worker to start a coaching business. And she did it at the height of the pandemic.

“I had already been thinking about wanting to make a change for myself—doing the work I was doing didn’t seem to be fulfilling me as much as it used to,” says Copher, who spent more than 20 years as a social worker and counselor in nonprofit, hospice and government agencies.

“The pandemic removed the veil—not just for me, but for the world. We were going through our day-to-day lives without even thinking about what we were doing. We were on automatic. Then suddenly there was so much going on in the world affecting everyone.

“It was tragic, dramatic, scary, you’re protecting yourself and your loved ones. There was a big moment of, what am I doing? I’m not getting as much out of what I’m doing. Why not? What can I do about it?”

Copher has always been a helper. As a kid, she knew she would be a teacher or psychologist. After moving from her hometown of El Paso, Texas, to Sacramento in 1996, she completed a master’s degree in clinical psychology through National University. She enjoyed two decades as a bilingual social worker and counselor before getting the itch to try something new.

“I signed up to do something different that could be a side gig,” Copher says of her decision to pursue a coaching certification. “Coaching created a situation where suddenly there was a lot more flexibility that allowed me to apply my own personal creativity and approach to how I would want to treat someone, instead of working within very definitive guidelines.”

After securing certification from the International Coaching Federation and JRNI, Copher launched Vitalis Coaching & Wellness from her home near UC Davis Medical Center in January 2021. (The name is Latin for “life”—a nod to her Hispanic heritage.)

She put out the word among friends and colleagues, and soon clients flocked to her practice, which uses positive psychology to help people transition and achieve goals.

“My job is to help you figure out what it is you want to achieve,” Copher says. “What are your goals? I help break them down into smaller, time-measurable steps that you can take that are realistic and are going to move you forward with every action. I find that all of us need someone to hold us accountable—that’s my role as the coach. I help you figure out what you want by asking the right questions to help you move forward and succeed.”

After more than a year of her new business, Copher’s clients are primarily “mature, independent, high-level career women who are also mothers, wives, girlfriends—all of them influencers in the community.” Though she didn’t intend to carve out this niche, she’s glad it found her.

“I love working with these women,” says Copher, who offers weekly one-on-one virtual or in-person sessions. “We talk about their values, what’s important to them, how they want to be remembered. We all have the answers, but we often don’t know how to get to them. I don’t give people the answers. My job as a coach is to help them figure out how to get there.”

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Jessica Laskey can be reached at Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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