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Is Life Coaching a Scam? By a Life Coach

Updated: May 31

Hello and welcome to Defiant Life Coaching. This week, I wanted to talk about why some folks think that life coaching is a suspicious scam. I think it's important, when there are critiques out there in society, to confront them directly and really analyze what's at the root of some of this so called 'feedback.'


I have been through a lot of different kinds of training and education and been a part of the public health industry and the hard sciences research industry as well as academia and I can tell you that many institutions do incredibly damaging work under the guise of being credentialed and that does include doctors and nurses and therapists and social workers. With their tremendous power they perpetuate different forms of oppression like medical racism, like the myth of obesity, like COVID-19 being over and whatnot. So I would be just as careful if not more around these institutions and these professionals then you would be around life coaches, which you know, requires discernment and requires a structural analysis of believing that certain credentials make you better at providing care.


I know from working with 1000s of people at this point that they have been through the wringer with their health care providers, including therapists and they have not been seen or affirmed or validated or have had their conditions get worse and then misdiagnosed and judged and so on. Not only does the medical industrial complex need to have a reckoning, not only does the psychiatric industrial complex need to have a reckoning , but we need to have a conversation about how ill-equipped some of these providers are to actually work with neurodivergent or multiple marginalized people without harming us further through their racism and fatphobia and transphobia, homophobia, ableism, sanism and so on.


That being said, I think that life coaching is not therapy, and that needs to be made clear and people can form a team of folks of professionals that care for them. I see a therapist and an autistic life coach and I find that to be complementary. I do think it's also important to talk about oversight and how no such thing exists for life coaches, but at the same time, we don't have to kind of deal with some of that violent bureaucracy that therapists have to deal with and their inability to like really, honestly, I work with folks who are not doing well at all because of the way they have to report and you know, people's, let's say suicidal ideation to authorities and retraumatize people by institutionalizing them, which happens to so many multiply marginalized people and it's an incredibly damaging event.


When people seek out life coaches, that is their decision. That is their choice. I think it's important to give people that agency and to reiterate that you're in charge of your care that you can absolutely seek a second opinion you can absolutely find the right therapist, you know, and then also work with a life coach and use discernment, right? Because, yeah, lots of people are scammers, across all industries. I actually think entire institutions are scams, and yet we continue to engage on them right like the college debt conversation.


That said, life coaches need to be transparent with their credentials. For example, I have never trained as a life coach and I have not been certified as a life coach. That doesn't prevent me from being extremely effective with my clients and helping them figure out their next steps and whatever it is they want to fix because my training is extensive in other disciplines as a scholar, as a researcher, as a sociologist, as a women's studies practitioner, as a public health practitioner, you know. I have degrees upon degrees upon degrees; I just don't value them as much as other people value them in order to dismiss healing approaches and modalities that are not as credentialed.


I also know of a lot of therapists and nurses and social workers now going into life coaching because they want the freedom to service people across all 50 states or internationally or not have to answer to their practices and feel suffocated and unable to speak their mind. For example, my being a life coach and a grown up activist allows me to talk about the issues that are near and dear to my heart without fearing that someone is going to report me to my board, because that's not appropriate and that's always been something that therapists and doctors and nurses face that's wrong.


As someone who is COVID conscious and who is disabled and who wants to work virtually with everybody, life coaching provides an opportunity for me as a multiply marginalized person to make ends meet. Which brings me to my next point. Why monetize something like life coaching? Why monetize anything at all? Because capitalism. Until the mortgage company stops asking for a mortgage, you know, and if we want to make this kind of a service work for people and for ourselves, then we do need to actually charge folks. What we provide as a service is valuable. It is a commitment, a principled commitment to a long term set of plans with each client that is custom and that takes all of my brainpower and education and life experience to sift through.


I am uniquely placed to help the people that I help. Finally, because there isn't oversight and there is a potential for predatory behavior on the part of some life coaches, the rest of us need to have a commitment to integrity and transparency and upfront with our clients or people that we're consulting with about our skill set and be able to refund folks obviously, never DM people, never give unsolicited advice and just carve out our own path. Autistic life coaches, LGBTQ life coaches, people of color life coaches, empowerment coaches, body positivity coaches, all of us are so very needed, because traditional approaches to these populations have been quite damaging.


I think critique is healthy, but critique should also be leveled at these other options that many of my clients have already tried and decided was not for them. And I think it's important to respect people's journeys and their seeking out alternatives. And again, at the end of the day, you're in charge and you can put together a team for your care that includes life coaches and hypnotherapists and acupuncturists and doctors and therapists. It does not need to be an all or nothing kind of deal. Alright, I'll see you here later next week. And if you want to book a free consult with me, you can go ahead and do that. Thank you.

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