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The life coaching industry’s ugly underbelly

by News Room
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Can a coach guide you to success? A growing number of people believe so. They turn to professionals who promise self-improvement to change attitudes and habits and guide them to personal and professional gains.

Life coaching is a sprawling, multifaceted industry that can include career coaches, financial coaches, happiness coaches and empowerment coaches. It’s worth billions and counting: the International Coaching Association estimates the industry to be worth $4.56bn (£3.64bn); and in 2019–2022, the number of life coaches rose 54%, making it one of the fastest growing careers in the United States. Experts say this boom is happening alongside the “people development” industry that has emerged over the past 15 years.

The pandemic catalyzed two major changes that provided a business opportunity for future life coaches. First, over the past several years many people have struggled with mental health; In addition, many have also found themselves reevaluating their priorities, goals and values.

“The mental health impact of the pandemic has left many people feeling lost and in need of guidance,” says career consultant and life coach Emily Maguire. “If you look at internet search trends for life coaches, you’ll find that the most common topics people search for are career coaching, ADHD, self-confidence, relationships, and anxiety.”

Maguire also adds that social media has enabled the rise of life coaching. It is now common to see individuals selling not only their professional coaching services but also their lifestyle on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. They promise that their course is the way to an equally ideal life.

For many people, life coaching gives them the boost and clarity they need, whether they are struggling, in a career turning point or looking for a start. Yet amid growing concern about the industry’s lack of transparency and unregulated nature, some experts and clients say this system leaves people open to fraudulent practices, allowing anyone to call themselves a “life coach.”

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