Life coach: Is it really worth the money? – cosmopolitan.com

Posted: February 17, 2021 at 5:53 pm


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In front of her is a chart containing all of my characteristics: how much of a free-thinker I am, whether or not Im motivated, and what all this means for my destiny. How is she so sure? Because, prior to our Zoom call, I told her my full name. The moniker assigned to me by my parents before I could even open my eyes holds the key to a happier, brighter future... or, at least, it does according to her.

Im on a two-hour session with Vicky Paul, an energy healer, medium and Soul Purpose Coach. This means she promises to analyse a clients life (usually for a charge of 150, which she's waived as Im here for work purposes) in terms of talents, goals, potential, lessons and obstacles, helping them reconnect with the essence of who they truly are. Currently, Im hoping to answer one question: where should I live? Im torn between London, my Essex hometown and Brighton, my self- appointed spiritual home.

Asking a coach this, instead of, say, your mum,, is an increasingly popular decision-making method and it seems, today, there is a coach for everything. There are life coaches (find your true path!), money manifesting coaches (think yourself rich!), relationship coaches (married in six months!), burnout coaches, career coaches and even Ill train you to become a coach coaches. The industry is beyond booming; its worth $2.849 billion globally (a 21% increase from 2015). Search #lifecoach on Instagram and youll find over 9.6 million posts (#lifecoachforwomen nets a cool 488,000 alone).

Celebrities arent immune to its charms either, with the coaching worlds head honcho (the divisive and controversial) Tony Robbins counting Kim Kardashian, Serena Williams and Leonardo DiCaprio as clients. Hes also amassed a casual $500 million fortune and 5 million Instagram followers along the way.

But, of course, theres a snag a big one: coaching isnt regulated. Meaning there are no legal requirements to undergo training or obtain any credentials before labelling yourself a master-third-eye-pay-rise coach or whatever else it is you fancy being. Lots of coaches call themselves certified but thats not clear-cut either if I wanted, I could get a certificate in a weekend, via a 19 Groupon deal.

Vouchers aside, some coaches do seek training via more reputable sources, and in my research one name crops up consistently: the International Coaching Federation (ICF), which was established in 1995.

It prides itself on being the gold standard in all things coaching related. But confusion alert credentials, which are awarded to coaches whove met the education and experience requirements from an awarding body, such as the ICF, in theory, could also be dished out by a dodgy awarding body (so be warned they require vetting too). In laymans terms, this means an un-credentialled coach could credential someone. As I said... confusing.

Even Tracy Sinclair, a member of the ICFs Global Board, agrees its a concern: Anybody could print off a business card calling themselves a coach. She continues, We welcome coaches of any discipline at the ICF, so long as theyre willing to commit to proper training. By that, she means undertaking a programme with its seal of approval. Being a member of a professional body is a good sign, she explains. It shows theyre taking it seriously.

I like the idea that finding the right person to offload to over a coffee, or via Zoom, will miraculously flip a switch in my head and solve my lifes dilemmas. But, as a journalist, with an inbox flooded by people claiming to be able to transform lives on the daily, Im sceptical. Can my mind be changed and if so, what makes a coach genuine?

As I begin my research, Im surprised by the number of messages I get heralding the benefits of coaches. Truthfully, I was half-expecting my call-out on social media to merit a deluge of scam stories, but it transpires that finding a good coach can be truly transformative. Theres Marie-Claire, who tells me just two weeks with a coach saw her build the confidence to quit her demanding job and find a new one. Jane* credits her coach for growing her business when money was tight. Zoey* says coaching healed her heartbreak.

It seems people go to coaches for a number of reasons theyre lost, unsatisfied, down, or just need an outsiders perspective on a problem. Many cited coaches as an alternative to therapy and praised them for being more forward-focused, rather than requiring them to dig deep into past traumas. It makes sense that the industry is thriving right now, when life feels wobblier than ever. Self-development doesnt carry the same stigma it once did, confirms Sinclair.

Laughing down the phone, West End costumier Frances Williams tells me she once wouldve taken the piss out of the idea of self-help. But only months after the 24-year-old started working out with personal trainer Leela Sule, Frances found herself at a crossroads. Sule had just started her own life-coaching company, Get Up And Grow Girl (her Instagram account, featuring soul-searching prompter questions and motivational quotes, is catnip for women like me) and the 35-a-month course Frances completed was even called Holistic Hun designed, according to Sules website, for those feeling overwhelmed, like theyre treading water or are people pleasers.

The modules were self-paced and tackled things like confidence and breathing exercises, and we also had group Zoom sessions, says Frances. It was more fun than therapy, which can leave you emotionally drained. It sounds similar to reading a self-help book then having a book-club discussion about it after, I suggest, and Frances agrees. She says she got so much from her online coaching that she then completed a business- orientated course for 155 a month, including more one-on-one time with Sule.

The other thing about the industry not being regulated is prices range from Sules affordable 35 per course to 5,000 for a six-month programme which is what Dr Rakish Rana, founder of The Clear Coach, charges. His prices are informed by high-end US coaches, where the market is more mature.

Dr Rana is a member of the ICF and graduate of The Academy of Executive Coaching. But, he insists, paperwork isnt the only sign of a good coach. Testimonials are more important than credentials. Most coaches will offer a free intro call if theyre legit. I always recommend potential clients speak with other coaches before going with me. With each session lasting up to an hour, though, and often involving spilling emotional parts of yourself, how likely is it that your average person will repeat that process multiple times? Its good advice, but is it practical? As I delve deeper into the industry, I realise being able to weed out coaches who dont have your best intentions at heart is vital.

The lobby of the high-end members club, with its slick wooden floor and neon sign, was an alluring set-up. Julia* spotted Isabel* immediately. I had run into a dilemma with my business, Julia tells me. I asked a Facebook group for advice and several people responded, saying, You have to speak to Isabel. Her credentials a website claiming shes helped thousands, a strong social-media presence (a bio boasting a top-tier podcast) and qualification from a body called The Coaching Academy all sounded good. But the in-person experience, Julia says, for 800, was not.

Prior to our meeting, I completed a questionnaire about what I wanted to get from our time together. I spent hours on it, but Isabel turned up empty- handed. At the time, Julia was trying to juggle being a mother to her newborn with running her own company and says she was just grateful to have found someone to listen to me. After paying for seven hours with Isabel, she left with no solutions to her problem.

I didnt complain or follow up, as Isabel also invited me onto her podcast. I received no new business enquiries and was so embarrassed about the whole thing, I never shared it anywhere.

Months later, Julia braved a meeting with another coach and said the contrast was stark. Although I could only afford an 80 introductory session with Nadia,* she got me. She analysed my tone of voice, picking up on things I didnt even realise made me anxious and gave great advice. She also introduced me to her contacts. Julia wishes she could book more sessions, but says after wasting 800 on Isabels services, she cant afford it.

Its not just money that rogue coaches can take from you either in extreme cases it can be your peace of mind. Emilie Lavinia, a 30-year-old influencer and digital consultant, tells me her coaching experience left her with recurring nightmares. Ive tried it all to help with my anxiety, she tells me. Therapy, yoga, you name it. When my relationship ended and a friend suggested I see their spiritual coach, I thought Id give it a go.

After a phone consultation, Emilies first meeting with Rosalie* took place in a house in the woods. I paid 300 for three days and found it helpful. Shortly after, when her friends began discussing a holiday to Croatia, Emilie decided to sit it out and instead invest in herself, by spending a week abroad with Rosalie.

I assumed her prices would be the same as before, she says. It was just her and Rosalie in Spain, for seven days of intensive one- on-one coaching. But when we got to the supermarket, Rosalie put all these foods Id never eat in a basket, then demanded I pay for everything. Soon after, Rosalie started making uncomfortable comments about Emilies appearance.

Ive always been petite and have a healthy diet, but suddenly my coach began saying all the problems in my life stemmed from my relationship with food. I thought, But thats not why Im here. I havent got food issues; Ive just been dumped and feel a bit crap. Things got worse. She banned me from drinking water, so Id feel hungrier, even though it was so hot, then ordered me to take vitamins and eat fatty foods for breakfast if I refused, shed say, Why arent you nourishing yourself? You have a childs body! Four days in, I felt like I was losing my mind and started questioning whether I did have a problem with food.

Everything came to a head on the last day. Rosalie suggested Emilie should strip naked and talk about her body in front of a mirror. I did it, but she told me I looked stunted and I snapped. Rosalie said the anger was good and asked if I wanted to take drugs together. The rest of the night passed in silence, and the following day, Rosalie drove Emilie to the airport.

When I got out of the car, she told me I owed her 7,000. I blocked her and never paid we havent been in touch since. Now, Emilie wants to warn others. Just because somebody identifies themselves as a coach or healer, it doesnt mean they are. The moment somebody diagnoses you as broken, they can charge you for their services to fix you. It discredits all the genuine people out there.

Writing this feature reminds me of the time a self-styled yogi life coach diagnosed me with complex post- traumatic stress disorder while on a retreat for stressed young women (some of which I did find useful, like the importance of diet, sleep and having equal power in a relationship essentials we arent taught in school). She offered to fix me for 50 a pop. I declined, but what if I hadnt? Would I have continued as she unearthed more things about me to fix?

Yet isnt it almost a given that some coaches will target those feeling adrift? In the same way PTs approach evident newbies in the gym, can we really blame them for making the troubled their target market? Also, while Emilie and Julia were clearly the victims of scammers, there are cases when coaching is unsuccessful because the client doesnt put in the work, or its a personality or skill-set clash. You can do extensive research, but when the industrys regulations arent watertight (like they would be if you were looking for a therapist), its still tricky. Coaches may well help you find a solution to your problem, but theres no guarantee. Theres no guarantee therapy will either, but at least you are starting from a place of regulated and verifiable qualifications.

My session with Vicky was a mixed bag. A lot of what she said could be applicable to the majority of people (sentences along the lines of at times youre so confident but, at others, you really doubt yourself). But days after speaking with her, I do find myself rehashing something she said: You called Brighton your forever home and I think you need to work out where your resistance to it is coming from. Your name denotes a 10-1 Spiritual Goals energy, meaning youre the highest free spirit. Is it something to do with feeling restricted?

I start unpicking the idea that Brighton is the place Ive pencilled in as where I want to settle long-term, to raise a family. A happy middle ground between London and a suburban housing estate (the idea of which makes me itch and want to book a flight to Ibiza). Although Vicky says she came to that conclusion based on my name alone, Id say its an observation she made as an intuitive person and it was helpful. Could an insightful friend have nudged me to reach the same conclusion? Maybe. But one things for sure: if youre considering a coach, its important to shop around. Make use of those free introductory sessions. Comb their testimonials like your life depends on it because your mental health and bank balance just might.

*Names have been changed

Follow Jennifer on Instagram and Twitter

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Life coach: Is it really worth the money? - cosmopolitan.com

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February 17th, 2021 at 5:53 pm

Posted in Life Coaching