Practice for existential coaching

Coaching in English

Born to an American mother and a father who lived in the United Kingdom for the most part of his youth, English is my ‘second mother tongue’. Thus, if you prefer, the sessions can be held in English.

Winnie Gebhardt: Practice for existential coaching

In my practice we look together at what life brings you, and how you would like it to be, with attention to everything that lives inside of you. We do not shy away from the difficult things that are happening right now, or that you have experienced in the past. We also investigate openly and honestly your own role in the dynamics of the patterns that may at times bother you, and how you can change them. In this way we search and find your own story into the future.

Your questions

You may feel that you wish to get closer to the true meaning of your life. Perhaps you have arrived at a place in your life journey where you long for more autonomy and ‘authorship’ over the continuation of your path. You may also be in a situation in which you have to make choices that are difficult for you. The implications of whatever you choose may seem (too) big, and the fear of those consequences may have a paralyzing effect. I can help you shed light on the trade-offs in ways that don’t tie you down.

Change is often accompanied by pain, loss and melancholy. These are tangible emotions that sometimes need to be heard. There is time and attention for this during the coaching sessions. Sometimes you may also want to experience something without words, dive into it, and then leave it for what it is. By doing so, difficult events and feelings can become part of the person you are, and you may embrace them as part of your life story. Your confidence in what the future may bring will increase.

My approach

I believe in the inner strength of people and in the lightness of being, even though it may not have shown itself for a long time. Blunt confrontation is not my style, but I always ask questions that matter, and do not get easily distracted in the process. It’s never about right or wrong answers, but rather about the search for how exactly something holds true for you. We touch the layers of feelings, thoughts, behavior and meaning of life. In this way you come to completely new insights, sometimes step by step, sometimes with a big shock. Because usually things are not exactly as you thought they were. When you suddenly notice that there are other dimensions, you experience a space and freedom that you may not have thought possible before.

My background

Grown myself from the experiences in my life, I find it a privilege to guide others on a path to greater self-knowledge. I am trained as a clinical psychologist (Master’s in 1990). During my PhD research I began to specialize in behavior change and healthy lifestyle. I continued to work in research and teaching in this area, and received an award from the European Health Psychology Society for my contribution to the field. Since 2016, I have enjoyed working as a volunteer in bereavement support, and I have been a Humanistic Speaker at funerals in the past. I also deepened my knowledge on (existential) psychology, philosophy, and guiding personal development, and followed the training in voice expression with Marius Engelbrecht. Since the autumn of 2022, I work as a vitality- and meaningfulnesscoach at the Leiden University Medical Hospital.

Where we meet

I work from a small but cosy place in the Leiden Lake District (Merenwijk). If you like it and it suits your coaching question, we can make nice walks through the polder and along the Kagerplassen during the sessions. I like to use the principles of walking coaching, especially with fatigue and (incipient) burn-out complaints. For other issues as well the outdoors provides a fresh perspective in itself. My coaching trajectories are usually short: on average between 4 and 8 sessions over a period of 2 to 6 months. If so desired, I have the option of coaching in the evenings. The costs are 135,50 euro per session of 75 minutes.


If you have become curious, and would like to receive more information, or make an appointment for an introductory meeting, please send me a message at KvK registrationnummer: 87876191.