APU Careers & Learning Editor's Pick Online Learning Original

APUS Alumni Stories: Coaching for Wellness and Behavioral Health

By Melanie Conner, Student and Alumni Affairs Liaison and Calandria Owens, APU Graduate

In 2016, Calandria Owens built a relationship and wellness coaching business, Calandria Coaching and Consulting. She helps millennials and their families achieve goals and teaches them the necessary skills to increase their satisfaction with life.

APU Graduate Calandria Owens

Calandria says, “I have always wanted to help people. As a military child growing up in the 1990s, I moved around often. There were times when I just wanted someone to talk to. As soon as I learned the role of mental health providers, I knew I wanted to be in that field.”

Pursuing a Career in Behavioral Health

Calandria began her academic journey at American Public University in 2011. Unsure of what she wanted to do in the field of behavioral health or what she needed to accomplish to pursue a career in this field, she praises APU for offering PSYC102: Professional Careers and Education in Psychology.

Start a psychology degree at American Public University.

Calandria notes, “This course was a lifesaver. In this course, I learned about the many psychology careers I could accomplish with my bachelor’s. I also learned my limitations with my bachelor’s; to provide therapy to clients, I would have to continue my education.

“APU is not like other distant universities. I tutored my way through undergrad school and often clients who attended other distant universities had very different coursework loads than I had at APU. I am now forever grateful for the rigorous curriculum.”

According to Calandria, one of her favorite classes was the hardest course she completed, PSYC305: History and Systems of Psychology. She says that the material was informative and “has turned out to be the baseline of everything I do in my field.”

Calandria notes that her professor got her and her fellow students ready for graduate school, even if they had no plans to attend graduate school. Calandria has been able to keep up with her master’s coursework due to the preparation from her undergraduate program.

Calandria graduated from APU in 2014 with a bachelor’s in psychology. She is now completing her master’s in Marriage and Family Studies from Northcentral University.

Calandria is proud of her educational achievements and appreciates the support from her family. She says, “My paternal grandmother had a third-grade education, and I dedicate my educational achievements to her.”

Working as a Therapist Intern and Life Coach

Calandria currently works as a therapist intern in Georgia (she is working under a licensed professional until she earns her additional credentials). She also has her second career as a life coach at Calandria Coaching and Consulting.

Calandria has been a life coach since 2015. She specializes in the relationships of couples, children, and blended families, and she also focuses on spiritual wellness. Daily, Calandria holds sessions with clients who have specific goals that they need assistance in reaching.

She helps clients to “goal dig.” She creates a time management strategy to show people how to accomplish their goals and prioritizing tasks based on their needs, wants, and current resources.

After a face-to-face meeting via a HIPAA-compliant platform (due to COVID-19), Calandria typically has her clients perform a goal-digging exercise, using a tool she created, to prioritize their goals. Clients then choose which of their goals require the development of an action plan. 

For example, an action plan for someone who has the goal of a career change may include taking courses and training to prepare them for a new career. That depends on the client’s resources and the tools they have at their disposal. For someone who is not able to afford courses, Calandria suggests volunteering opportunities in their desired industry.

Calandria also develops personalized programs which include e-classes, modules, and even journals. These programs are built with the millennial in mind.

All of her tools have a self-help vibe, but they also leave space for a guided journey. Calandria notes that the millennial generation is a “microwave” society or a generation who expects instant results. In her programs, she takes a personalized approach to meet her clients’ needs.

Writing Workbooks

Calandria has also written several workbooks focused on the management of emotions, deep breathing for stress control, self-care and guided journaling (journaling using reflective questions).

Calandria says, “I have learned that many people do not know the value of self-care or what real self-care is. It is more than getting a manicure or ‘me’ time.

“Self-care is a lifestyle that is necessary to perform at our highest potential. This can include healthier diet and exercise. For some, it is as simple as learning how to ask for help. The possibilities for self-care are endless and personal, and these workbooks help people delve into this.”

Calandria observes that becoming a published author has always been a dream of hers, due to her love for reading and writing. She loves sharing her passion for reading with elementary and middle-school students.

In December 2019, Calandria was presented with the Mayor’s Education Award from Mayor Max Bacon of Smyrna, Georgia for her volunteer work, raising local awareness of reading and raising over $25,000 for digital reading tools for the International Academy of Smyrna. Calandria also partnered with Scholastic, volunteered over 100 hours of her time to host book fairs, and served on the executive board of the PTA as the vice president of events and fundraising.

Maintaining Work-Life Balance

As a life coach, Calandria says that her job is demanding, and her work-life balance can be a challenge. She notes that it’s her biggest challenge in her career: “There is so much we want to accomplish in a day, and we must learn the skills to accomplish them without losing ourselves. Conquering time management and saying ‘no’ have been the best tools for me in creating work-life balance.”

To overcome her work-life balance challenge, Calandria uses tools to help her with time management. She says that prioritizing tasks is a must for time management, and she also color-codes her to-do list to visually see what needs to be prioritized. Accomplishing tasks in order of priority helps to alleviate her anxiety. Calandria also says that she has a daily time accountability tool that she offers to her clients, which accounts for every hour of the day.

Reinventing Herself

Calandria says that she loves to reinvent herself by pushing past her comfort zone. She notes, “Currently, I am enjoying the great outdoors; I have never been an outdoors person. I have become a hiker and love it. I have purchased a Jeep, and my Jeep and I love to climb mountains. This is the year for collecting stickers for my Jeep from our adventures. I almost wish I had fallen in love with the outdoors sooner.”

Melanie Conner is a Student and Alumni Affairs Liaison at the university. Having worked in higher education for almost 10 years, Melanie enjoys cultivating relationships with students and alumni. She has undergraduate degrees in education from Germanna Community College and in sociology from the University of Mary Washington.

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