By Kay Newton
Heather Garbutt is a modern-day empath and coach living in Wiltshire, UK, who is thoroughly enjoying the second stage of her life. “My current relationship is so very different from my earlier ones. My partner and I are both in our 60s and we are both learning to love. We are very much opposites so we live in two homes during the work-week and come together at the weekend! It works perfectly well for us. It is so different from my previous relationships where I have attracted partners who are single-minded about their own needs. I have tended to live around them rather than with them.”
Heather’s life has always been different from the crowd. As a defiant teenager she refused to follow the usual academic route. Instead, she took up art and art therapy which led her to mental health, and a job in UK’s National Health Service (NHS). “I ended up working with a lot of women who had suffered from the effects of childhood sexual abuse and it shifted my view of the world and really made me want to support women even more,” she says.
In 2013, she cofounded the Counselling & Psychotherapy Centre in Old Town, Swindon, which now has 40 therapists on board. Stimulated by the training Heather received in California, she began to develop her career in love and relationship coaching. “Along with Marilyn Williams from the US, we are developing a 10- week programme for couples who want to enrich their relationship or are disappointed in love. I love seeing how people who come in with fog and distress go out with clarity and power.”
A lot of things affect midlife relationships, such as kids leaving home, health changes, losing the lustre in your relationship, retirement and career changes. Heather says, “There has to be a sense of ‘we’, yet it cannot be at the expense of ‘I’.” “There will always be tensions and differences, so you need to be able to acknowledge those and work with them.”
Conscious uncoupling is another aspect of Heather’s work. She works with couple who are parting ways or people who have baggage from old, toxic relationships that still affect them in the present day. “If they are getting divorced, we help them save tens of thousands of pounds in lawyers’ fees or emotional harm to their kids. The aim is to part sanely and kindly, and to still have a relationship at the end. This leads to cooperation, kindness and respect.”
The program closest to Heather’s heart is ‘Calling in The One’. In this, she helps women in midlife who have been disappointed in relationships to find true, happy, committed love. She says it is such a joy to see people come alive and be in a position to choose a partner from a stance of relaxed confidence and clear discernment. Watching women move into the second half of their life with a new partner and zest for living is a magnificent reward, she says.
Heather calls her work ‘deep coaching’. “It allows time for the psychotherapeutic process. If there has been trauma, we allow time for the grief and hold the necessary space. We take time to look at where the blueprints come from, the core beliefs that lead you to the ways of thinking and behaving.”
Heather’s new podcast series ‘Revolutionise Your Love Life’ covers all things to do with relationships and self-empowerment including abusive relationships and how to survive them. “We look at power and control relationships, myth-busting, how to leave safely and find sources of support that will hold you. Even if it may mean that you have to live a double life for a while, where you keep secrets and build your life outside before you make the move.”