Life is a journey

Sometimes our path is clear and we are confident and sure-footed.

Other times, the path dead-ends or enters terrain that appears too rough, or leads in the opposite direction from where we thought we were headed. Sometimes the path disappears entirely.

We may simply need a hand to clear away the brush to reveal the path.  

Actors and athletes have always worked with coaches.  A good life coach can help you capture your dreams, re-connect with your soul, and keep you accountable to your deepest desires, so you live the life you want to live.

As a life coach, I work with people who feel stuck and are looking for a change or greater fulfillment in the areas of work, relationship, health, family, community and spirituality.   I also work with people who are in the midst of a life transition and those who want to enrich their lives.   I particularly enjoy helping artists, thinkers and creative individuals bring their vision into reality.

For me, coaching is a spiritual endeavor.  Together, we explore beneath the surface layer of life, and we make meaning out of that which may appear quite ordinary.  We learn to become more comfortable and trusting of our intuition.   

Do you need a coach?

Almost anyone can benefit from coaching.  Here are some areas in which coaching can help:

Accomplishing what you’ve always dreamed of.  If you have a clear vision of what you want in your life, but you’re not realizing it, then you likely have some barrier in your way.  Coaching can help you uncover the barrier and come to terms with it.  Once you’ve identified the impediment, a coach can work with you to set achievable goals and an accountability structure, so that you will accomplish what matters most to you.

Taking risks:  Trying something new in your life—something you’ve never done before—can be scary. It takes courage and commitment to take a risk. A coach can help you to bolster your courage, and help to cushion your falls; she will be a caring presence for you when you are at your most vulnerable. 

Managing transitions: Transitioning into a new job or relationship or into a new phase of life, like retirement, poses a host of challenges.  Who are you, after all these years?  It’s easy to lose your way in these times.  A coach can help you stay true to yourself and navigate through the difficulties.

Confronting challenges: Sometimes we are confronted by problems that seem insurmountable—too large for one person to bear. A good coach can help you break down a problem into manageable pieces so that you can wrap your hands around it and deal with it: one piece at a time. 

Why work with me?

Finding the right life coach for yourself can be a challenge.  There are hundreds—even thousands—of coaches from whom you can choose.  While coach-training matters, perhaps what is even more important is the life experience, perspective and skills that your coach brings to you. 

My own life choices never fit with any well-defined career path, and I have always had to chart my own course, making it up as I went along.  I have not always listened to the quiet voice of intuition and have made choices that didn’t serve me.  At times, I have found myself on a circuitous path.  I know how difficult it is to remain connected to your innermost wisdom, and I have tremendous compassion for anyone who takes seriously the work of staying true to oneself.

In addition to being a coach, I am a rabbi.  I believe that all religious traditions hold tremendous wisdom that can help us to find and make more meaning out of our life experiences.   I currently work as a spiritual advisor at Hampshire College, helping students to navigate their way through the many challenges of college.  I am also a social entrepreneur with much experience in non-profit management. I founded and ran the first national Jewish environmental organization and have guided others in their running of non-profits.  And I am the author and editor of several books on the interface of religion and ecology.  In my early days, I ran a wilderness river company in California and Oregon and taught biology at Berkeley High School. 

Coaching can be very helpful in our relationship-lives as well as our work-lives  Miraculously, with the help of a coach, I found my spouse on the internet.   

I am a certified coach through the Coach Training Institute (CTI).  CTI is the largest and most reputable coach-training program in the world.

If any part of my story is compelling to you, please do not hesitate to contact me.  Coaching takes place by phone or skype, so it’s easy to work with you wherever you may live.  I am happy to offer a complimentary 40-minute session, so that together we can assess if we would work well together.  If not, I am happy to refer you to other coaches whom I know.  


I have made more progress in just a few months working with Ellen Bernstein than I had in more than a dozen years of psychotherapy! Her coaching has helped me get a long list of foundering projects to the finish line. First, she helped me understand the obstacles in my way, then she worked with me to develop an end run around those obstacles and a step-by-step action plan. Along the way, she served as my memory, reminding me of emotional, professional and spiritual challenges and dreams I had mentioned earlier. As a result, multiple facets of my life have come into much better balance, enabling me to live in much greater alignment with my values and goals. Ellen’s gentle prodding and nudging, deep insights and ability to “connect the dots” is effective and energizing.
J.P., Amherst, Ma.

Ellen's deep listening, insightful reflecting and gentle suggesting launched me on an purposeful, authentic path of fulfillment.
Sarah CK Gabriel, Philadelphia, Pa.

Taking risks and stepping out of my comfort zone is an important part of creating a meaningful life, but it’s challenging to take risks when you’re living abroad solo, as I have been since I retired from work and my wife passed away. With Ellen as my co-pilot, I’m finding it easier to take the risks I need to live the life I want.  I’m staying on task rather than fleeing into avoidant or magical thinking.  Ellen’s rock-solid integrity and constant presence calls me to stay true to my dreams and my deepest self.   Her clarity and focus have helped me break overwhelming problems down into simple manageable steps; I’m now creating order out of the chaos life presents.  Our work together is not only meaningful, it’s intellectually enlivening, fun and full of humor!  I heartily recommend Ellen as a guide and coach to anyone needing help along the way.
Steve Tobias, Oakland, Ca.