Written by: Claire Pfarr

August 18, 2023

We’re continuing our Q&A series to help you get to know some of our group facilitators. We recently chatted with Jenine Marie Powell on a stormy day to hear all about her journey as a certified divorce coach, the ways relationships affect our mental health, and her journey as a Circles group facilitator. We know you’ll enjoy getting to know Jenine!

Q: Great to meet you, Jenine! Please tell us a little about yourself and what brought you to Circles.

A: Well I’m a certified divorce coach, and I run a private practice–SOS Divorce Coaching, which stands for “starting over single.” Circles originally reached out to me because they thought I might know some people who needed support. I thought to myself, “Wow, this is so great. Everybody I work with needs a support system.” I knew I needed to find out more about Circles. And everything I learned, I just loved so much, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Not only did I want to refer all my clients to Circles, but I realized quickly that I’d love to facilitate some groups. It was truly the perfect union, and I’m so glad they found me.

To go back a little further, what led me to become a divorce coach was (of course) my own personal experience. I went through a really painful, difficult divorce about over a decade ago, and my whole life was turned upside down. I was heartbroken and overwhelmed. I had two small children at the time, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. And while I had a great legal team, a great therapist, support from family and friends, and financial stability, it still wasn’t enough. I really felt like I needed to talk with other people who had really been through it to realize that I was really going to be okay, and that I wasn’t crazy. It’s such a key part of the healing process, but at the time I really didn’t know where to find that kind of support. I’m so happy that this platform is here because I feel like it was the one missing link in my own recovery. 

Q. Tell us a little bit about the groups you host on Circles.

A: I host divorce and separation groups, including a group for those recovering from a narcissist relationship. But I’m also going to be running two more groups that I think are really important. One is all about recovering from betrayal, and the other is for “grey divorce,” meaning those going through divorce later in life. It’s such an important topic because you have people who have been married for 30 or 40 years. Maybe they have grown children. And that’s a totally different experience than when you’re divorcing young with younger children. I really feel there’s a need for a group specifically for that age because their struggles or challenges are a little bit different.

Q. Betrayal is a really interesting topic that affects a lot of people. Can you tell us a little more about that?

A: It does affect a lot of people. And it affects more than just the relationship itself, too. Your self worth is so affected, too. It’s your belief system and your ability to trust–not just trust other people, but trust yourself, because people going through it tend to beat themselves up. They ask themselves things like, “How didn’t I see this right in front of me?” “How did I not realize what was happening?” “What’s wrong with me?” “How do I learn to trust my gut again if I was wrong about this for so long?”

It opens up so many questions, and recovering from betrayal is so different from other circumstances that may lead to the end of a marriage, like when people just grow apart.

Q: Do you have any particular group that’s really rewarding, or have you had any really rewarding experiences that come to mind? 

A: I remember the first time I led a group, it felt a little strange to just kind of drone on in this audio room with a group of total strangers. But by the end of an hour, you feel the genuine care and support–people are really listening. We sometimes don’t get that in real life. Sometimes we don’t get that from our best friends. And here we are in a room of strangers, all feeling the love and care. The concern and support. 

I’m blown away on a daily basis by how this works. If you haven’t experienced it, it’s hard to imagine that just joining an audio room can be so effective. But it’s rewarding every single day. It might sound corny, but it truly restores your faith in humanity. People are good and I commend everybody for just showing up. They’re showing up for themselves, but they’re also showing up for other people. You’re there because you need help, but you’re also there to help others and it’s a beautiful thing to watch.

Q: Do you find that you have a lot of “regulars” or people who come all the time, or are there a lot of new faces each time?

A: It varies. It can be different every time in my rooms. We have that little icon that shows if somebody’s new to the group. So I’ll always welcome them and let them know like we’re here for them. I’m always cognizant of not putting them on the spot, though. I just welcome them and let them know immediately that this is a safe, non-judgmental place to express what’s on their mind. And usually when they see the rapport between the other members I think they see pretty quickly that this is a safe place and that when they do eventually talk, it’s well received. People in the room will “react” with little hearts and hands, and others will chime in, eager to share their experiences to help everyone feel less alone.  

I do love when I see regulars in the room though because they definitely contribute to that sense of belonging. It’s also nice to have that continuity so we can follow up on past discussions and see how people are really healing.

Q: What advice do you have for anyone who’s thinking about joining a discussion group but has reservations about it?

A: I’d say that Circles is one of the easiest places to start because you don’t have to leave your home. You don’t even have to participate–you can totally just listen. There’s no commitment or  obligation which I think is key. And of course, when we’re going through something really difficult, the tendency is to isolate when what we really need is connection. People don’t want to get out of bed. They don’t want to face anybody. They feel nobody understands what they’re going through. So the idea of being able to connect with other people who are going through something similar is what it’s all about, and it’s so incredibly helpful.

There’s also so much variety with facilitators. So if you pop into one room and it doesn’t resonate with you, well guess what. In an hour, there’s another room that you can join, and tomorrow there’ll be another room. And you have all these professional facilitators in one place. Where else can you hop from coach to coach or from therapist to therapist or mental health professional to mental health professional? You have all these professionals at your fingertips on one app, which is really wonderful. And I encourage people to try out different rooms. 

Another great thing is that the facilitators can interact with one another. So we know what the others have to offer and can make recommendations. I know who can give a spiritual perspective, who can give practical advice, or who has encountered a similar experience. Overall, it’s a pretty safe bet that everyone can find what they’re looking for. 

Join one of Jenine’s groups today–download the Circles app!