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Short version: Bay Area Dating Coach blends traditional and innovative strategies to help clients succeed in the online dating world. Many of the practice’s clients struggle with anxiety when trying to find a new partner; some haven’t dated for years — or at all. With the help of Bay Area Dating Coach and Founder Jessica Engle, who is a trained mental health therapist, nervous, novice, or unsuccessful daters can learn strategies for finding fulfilling, long-term relationships. Some of the techniques Bay Area Dating Coach uses to help clients include mock dating, in-the-field dating analysis, online dating advice, and drama therapy.
Finding a date online is often a tiring and time-consuming process. Not only do you have to set up profiles on multiple sites — you also have to spend hours slogging through unsuitable matches.
It can induce even more anxiety if you’re not familiar with the process and not sure how to put your best self out there.
That’s why Bay Area Dating Coach, located in Emeryville, California, a suburb of Oakland, created an ingenious solution: the Online Dating Concierge. The service not only creates dating profiles for clients but also helps them take the next steps toward in-person dating.
“Through Online Dating Concierge, we take over a client’s online life,” said Jessica Engle, Founder of Bay Area Dating Coach. “We set up profiles, create accounts, send messages, and even set up dates.”
Frustrated singles benefit from the innovative form of online dating help.
“Recently, we’ve been having great successes with the Online Dating Concierge service for people who haven’t been on dates for years or on dates at all,” said Jessica.
Bay Area Dating Coach demonstrates its understanding of the needs of modern daters, who may struggle to meet suitable partners or figure out how to interact in dating situations.
“We work a lot with people in their 20s and 30s, many in the tech industry, who struggle to build intimate relationships,” said Jessica. “That might be related to early dating issues or lack of social skills. Many people in tech are also immigrants, so they’re not always sure about how to navigate the dating world in the US.”
Other daters who gravitate to Bay Area Dating Coach are those who haven’t had much experience in the dating world.
“I’ve had clients come in near 40 years old with no dating experience, some of them virgins,” Jessica said. “Now, I see them dating regularly and get into long-term relationships. I’ve also had clients in their 70s struggling post-divorce to find their next partner and get happily married.”
Clients practice techniques to counter the dejection many online daters feel, and Bay Area Dating Coach offers strategies that make them more appealing to romantic partners.
Bay Area Dating Coach is unlike other dating services because it uses drama therapy to help clients practice dating, an approach Jessica implemented early on as a core part of her practice.
“I started the company when I was in graduate school getting a master’s degree in counseling psychology,” she said. “My graduate program emphasized something called drama therapy, which uses drama and theater to help people grow. As I was learning, it seemed like such a perfect fit for people struggling with dating issues.”
The five coaches on Jessica’s team have similar backgrounds to her own: They are licensed mental health therapists who use drama therapy in their work.
“I have five part-time coaches and clinicians,” Jessica said. “Each one has a master’s degree in counseling psychology. We all have a psychological background. A lot of my coaches and therapists are trained in drama therapy.”
Many of the dating coaches’ sessions encourage singles to practice experiential skills they lack when it comes to making successful romantic matches. These include essential skills like flirtation, touch, and body language.
Single clients of Bay Area Dating Coach are encouraged to practice the strategies they learn both in the office and outside of it.
“People meet with a coach on a weekly basis to work on dating strategy and dating skills,” Jessica said. “In addition, we do have out-of-office specialty services, like a mock date. You can go on a date with a coach who will give detailed feedback about your dating skills afterward.”
The mock date involves a client meeting up with a blind date — who is a dating coach — at a restaurant or coffee shop. Once the date concludes, the coach provides feedback about the client’s appearance, conversational skills, and intimacy building prowess. This service gives the dater an honest perspective on why they aren’t getting as many first or second dates as they would like.
While mock dates give clients practice, Bay Area Dating Coach can also offer advice in real-life situations.
“Weekly therapy focuses on what we call ‘dating confidence’ and ‘dating wisdom,’ which are the deeper pieces of building a lasting relationship. The therapy we offer is couched in an understanding of what it means to build healthy relationships and work with the mind.” — Jessica Engle, Founder of Bay Area Dating Coach
“We also do field coaching where we join clients out in the real world,” Jessica said. “We give them support and coaching there, which is powerful because we can see what’s going on in their real lives.”
In addition to these services — which all fall under the umbrella of coaching — the practice also offers dating therapy. Psychotherapy can root out underlying issues that may cause clients to struggle to find a partner.
“Weekly therapy focuses on what we call ‘dating confidence’ and ‘dating wisdom,’ which are the deeper pieces of building a lasting relationship,” said Jessica. “The therapy we offer is couched in an understanding of what it means to build healthy relationships and work with the mind.”
Ultimately, the practitioners aim to make coaching and therapy as low-stakes and non-threatening as possible.
“We tend to be playful and warm people who are attracted to this field because we are passionate about love and relationships,” Jessica said. “Everyone is a little bit obsessed with what it means to find happy relationships and fall in love.”
Singles looking for love can struggle to find suitable partners in a disconnected world, but Bay Area Dating Coach offers tools that help clients learn the skills to build successful partnerships.
“We work with people with dating anxiety who don’t even try to start dating. Or, when they try, they draw a blank and start trembling,” Jessica said. “We work with them from a therapeutic lens because there are some anxiety issues there. We also work with people who are post-divorce or never got married and are struggling to meet quality mates.”
Bay Area Dating Coach has helped plenty of singles find success, especially those who may have once been self-described hopeless daters. That keeps the team of coaches optimistic about every client’s possibility for love.
“It’s incredibly rewarding and satisfying. It can be easy to feel hopeless when you’re single and you’ve had dating issues,” Jessica said. “We meet our clients in their desperation so that we can provide empathy and support; it’s not always easy, but seeing our client successes makes it worth it.”
Soon, more singles in the Bay Area could have access the practice’s services.
“We are in the process of continuing our expansion,” Jessica said. “We’re steadily growing, and we’ll probably add more members to our team. We hope to add a few more locations in the Bay Area.”