Jara Rios counsels on work, life and love
By Candice Wagener | Photographed by Hillary Schave
In her native Puerto Rico, Jara Rios was at the helm of an afterschool program that she had created for high school students. Her main goal: to motivate the students to study the humanities in order to get a more well-rounded education. When her family relocated to the mainland in 2005, she wanted to continue promoting the humanities but figured she’d need to reevaluate how she was doing so.
“I needed to find a new way to do what I wanted to do but in a new scenario that probably didn’t have the same needs,” Rios says.
She earned her Ph.D. in Portuguese literature from UW-Madison and continued on to study grief counseling, trauma and positive psychology. It was all on the way to pursuing a career as a life coach so she could unite all the facets of her background: arts, philosophy, humanities, social work and psychology.
She founded Axios Life Coaching in 2016 and has expanded its offerings to include career-related and relationship-based coaching, as well as grief counseling. One of the ways Rios says she sets herself and her services apart in the somewhat crowded life coaching field in Madison is by drawing on her profound knowledge of the humanities and utilizing them in her coaching practice. Sometimes she will give clients exercises that include reading a book or short story and analyzing the characters or themes, so that they connect the dots in their own lives. “I use everything that I can use to make the person think or brainstorm around issues that are related to them,” Rios says.
Rios also brings a multicultural perspective to her work, and speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese fluently, allowing her to serve a greater diversity of clients. Despite the range of clients and needs she serves, Rios feels they are all related.
“I believe ultimately all our issues as human beings are grounded in traumas that we are grieving, or fears that we have or different conceptions of love,” Rios says. “Although it appears like I serve very different aspects or niches, I believe all of them are tied together into those concepts of grief and love.”
Rios places high priority on making her clients feel comfortable. She is willing to meet at any physical space, over Skype, on the phone—whatever works best for her clients. “There is a lot of personal stuff that is shared in my coaching sessions; it’s a process of dancing together.”
Jinelsa Bonilla, a client who lives in Tampa, Florida, has been working with Rios over the phone on a weekly to biweekly basis for about a year on some career coaching. Bonilla recently transitioned into a role in the real estate business. She appreciates the fresh perspective that Rios brings.
“She asks the right stuff. You can tell that she is genuinely interested, genuinely wants to help and really wants to figure this out with you,” says Bonilla, adding that Rios is willing to go over the allotted time if necessary to dig deeper into the heart of a matter.
Rios also takes on a unique perspective of success. While she believes that much of her job is helping clients find the way through whatever transition they may be going through, she also believes that a big part of her role is just being there.
“I am not always going to walk into the life of a person that is ready…I believe as a coach you walk side by side with someone to help them succeed or discover or reach different aspects of their life.”