Prescott counselor, coach has passion for helping others

By Riley Dorau
Posted 7/3/24

Maria Shea, Prescott resident and owner of Awaken Counseling and Coaching, has been in the mental health field for nearly three decades.

"I've been in the business for almost 30 years, private …

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Prescott counselor, coach has passion for helping others


Maria Shea, Prescott resident and owner of Awaken Counseling and Coaching, has been in the mental health field for nearly three decades.

"I've been in the business for almost 30 years, private practice for most of that time," Shea said.

A graduate of West High School in Fargo, ND, Shea initially enrolled at North Dakota State University before transferring to the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. There, she earned her undergraduate degree in psychology. She later received her master's in counseling psychology from St. Mary's University in Minneapolis.

"I am a licensed psychotherapist, and combine that with coaching," Shea explained.

Shea's career began with co-running a program for at-risk adolescents after college.

"I did family counseling and youth counseling. It was a nonprofit, but I just got my feet wet for crisis counseling and managing a program," she said. "I had 30 staff at one point that I was working with who were in college to become counselors, so I would train them on answering crisis lines and working with the youth."

Shea's entrepreneurial spirit led her to her first job in a mental health clinic, where she worked for several years while developing her private practice on the side.

"It was a slow but sure journey," Shea said, referring to growing her practice. "I do life and business coaching, a kind of hybrid approach of counseling and coaching. My main service is the one-on-one session."

For the past four years, Shea has operated globally online, conducting sessions via video or phone.

"I gave up my brick-and-mortar office in Hudson about four years ago," she said.

Currently, Shea leads a women's group called "Sacred Circle," which meets several times a year.

"It's a cozy group. I'll have five women maximum for three months, and it's to feel connected, supported and that collective idea of 'no one is alone,'" she said.

Shea also offers services for larger audiences, including team building.

"I get into corporate America a bit, working with sales, managers, business professionals and just helping with communication and connection," Shea explained.

As a certified Real Colors facilitator, Shea incorporates this method into her large group workshops. "Instead of saying 'I hate my boss,' we work in color groups and it helps people realize that everybody offers something," she said.

Shea’s educational degree helps her dive into traumas, wounds, past problems; she does deep guided imagery with some soul work but also the coaching is “what are you going to do tomorrow” to bring it all together. Many of Shea’s clients come from the area where she has practiced, but many come through word-of-mouth referrals or from speaking engagements.

“I need to get better at applying for speaking gigs, but a lot of times it is people who I have connected with that refer me to others,” she said.

Shea believes in the power of becoming one's authentic self.

"I chose this profession because I have always had this passion for helping people grow, heal and connect on a deeper level within themselves," she said.

While not a religious counselor, Shea considers mind, body and spiritual aspects in her approach.

"For example, meditation is a great tool to help reduce stress and have meaningful connections within oneself and others," she said.

Shea is currently offering an online course called "Master Your Confidence: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome."

"Over the years I have heard clients talk about how 'they're not good enough' and 'everyone else is better,' so I created a course on this so that they can get tips and tools," she explained.

Clients can sign up for monthly tips, tools and view offers on Shea's website,

Shea’s advice to anyone wanting to start something new: “Embrace the journey with an open heart and mind. Begin by understanding your passions and strengths, and let that guide your path. If you are somebody reading this and saying, ‘I don’t know my passion,’ I can help you!” she said.

Maria Shea, Awaken Counseling and Coaching, mental health, wellness, counseling, Prescott, Wisconsin