Why I don’t trust life coaches and neither should you

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Life coaches are everywhere these days: at the TV, on social media ads, on the cover of bestselling books, offering advice and solutions with great self-confidence. They make my skin crawl every time I see such aggressive marketing. It takes a lot of effort to change your life. No grinning successful person can convince me they can actually make a difference.
But firstly, let’s see what a life coach is supposed to be.

According to Collins Dictionary, a life coach is a person whose job is to improve the quality of his or her client’s life, by offering advice on professional and personal matters, such as career, health, personal relationships, etc.

As you can see, it is an umbrella term that designates a person able to help a client to be successful in general. A specialist who has all the answers sounds too good to be true, right? And here’s where my skepticism enters the stage.

It starts with the name

Language is powerful because it shapes one’s perception of the world, including one’s self. When it comes to life coaching, the broad term does a disservice to the field because it’s hard to take it seriously.
Life can’t be taught. Life is an individual journey with unpredictable twists and turns at every step, so one’s experience can’t correspond with another’s. Of course, others can assist and guide us along the way, but their influence is limited by several factors, including their expertise.
Instead of talking about life coaches, I think we should seek advice from individuals specialized in certain areas, such as business and law advisors, career counselors, individual or couple therapists, and so on. See the language difference here? I don’t know about you, but all these titles sound more reasonable than ‘hiring a life coach’.

It’s a question of credibility

Call me old-fashioned, but I need to see some credentials and an academic degree before I decide whether I will collaborate with somebody on certain issues or not. Theoretical knowledge is as vital as the skills acquired from practice.

From what I’ve read, this domain has little to no regulation, and certification is optional. For short, there isn’t a higher institution that oversees the ethical and professional aspects of a life coach, unlike the medical or psychology associations.

This means that:
the quality of services may vary depending on the training (or lack thereof) of the life coaches;
the client can’t demand an official analysis from a higher authority in case of any kind of prejudice caused by their life coach.

However, it is important to mention that some life coaches have social studies diplomas or have previously worked in a field related to your area of interest. Therefore, I encourage you to inquire about the specialist’s academic and professional experience before making an appointment.

Life coaches don’t have a solution for everything

These specialists focus on:
short-term strategies
helping you plan your actions towards your goals
making yourself aware of your resources.

Let’s say a client wants to expand a business. The life coach can suggest a new approach, they can guide the client through a different strategy, or they can help in creating a personalized business plan. All these methods might work with varying results, and the client has acquired a set of skills they can apply in the future.

But let’s say another client has struggled all their life with maintaining long term relationships. How can a life coach help in such a case? There could be many reasons for that issue that must be gradually explored within an emotionally safe space. Only a trained mental health specialist can guide them through this long and delicate process.

Final thoughts

I have spent some time in the online life coaching community earlier this year. It seemed to me like a bizarre combination of psychology, persuasion, the coach’s personal charm, false optimism, and money-focused advertisement.
While being there, I have listened to a few lectures and downloaded some materials. A few months later, I left the group for several reasons. Firstly, the members’ view of life seemed way too far from reality for my taste. Secondly, the life coach was specialized in financial gain, a topic I didn’t care about.

Everybody can try different ways to improve the quality of their life. From my point of view, heading the advice of life coaches is not a reliable method. They lack credibility. Moreover, I feel like they promise more than they can actually offer you in terms of success and wellbeing. Reach out to certified specialists instead and work with them on a better version of yourself.

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