How The Unregulated Industry of Life Coaches Raises Questions

This Guardian article ‘I’m a life coach, you’re a life coach: the rise of an unregulated industry‘ explains very well the inherent contradictions of the status of life coach. It is completely unregulated and dominated by a number of well-known figures of sometimes questionable reputation (as exposed in the article). It also obviously responds to a societal need, but isn’t it dangerous to let people getting influenced by unqualified professionals?

Trainings and certifications are diverse in quality and seriousness. The number of candidates to become life coach increases dramatically with each major crisis. In my experience, many do explore this career out of a personal need first, before looking at it as a way to change others for the better. In reality, many life coaches do have a less-than-ideal personal life and happiness, although they try to project a well-balanced impression.

There are drawbacks to a too severe professional certification scheme. It creates institutions that decide what is right from wrong. It can lead to situations where innovative or radical approaches will be rejected while they can be useful. Thus it is not necessarily the best solution in all cases.

At the same time when it comes to mental health, is it reasonable to add a layer of simili-professionalism to general advice on how to feel better? Having a coach implies some seriousness in the commitments taken, but one of the most important functions of a coach is to determine when people need more professional psychological help. It is unsure that all life coach trainings include that element so clearly.

I am definitely in favor of some self-regulation of the life coach industry. The ICF (International Coach Federation) is quite a good and demanding scheme that leaves some leeway in the coaching practices. Similar certifications should be requested from your coaches.