Life Coaching

MC writes: “My sister has been going to a “life coach.” Can you tell me where did the Life Coaching movement come from?  How is it tied to the New Age?”

Great question, MC!

A life coach aims to motivate and improve your confidence by helping you to take action on your life’s purpose. If you’re struggling to get to where you want to be or become who you want to be a life coach can help you in these areas.

From what I have been reading, life coaching started out as a New Age fringe movement about 20 years ago but eventually morphed into other areas such as coaching in business, career, personal finance, etc. Christian life coaches are plentiful and Allison Ricciardi, founder of, also offers coaching services at

A life coach serves as a kind of personal motivator to help a person set goals in life and accomplish them. Coaches bill themselves as “listeners and cheerleaders who help clients figure out how to move their lives in a particular direction.”

Life coaching began in the 1980’s with a successful financial planner named Thomas Leonard who noticed that his clients “seemed to need more from him than just the usual tips on how to invest.” He began to mentor them and, in 1992, founded Coach University, a “school” for life coaches which boasts of training 7,000 coaches in 38 countries thus far.

Two years later, he founded the International Coach Federation, which is an association of more than 15,000 professional coaches in over 130 chapters worldwide.

Leonard died suddenly in 2003 of a heart attack at the age of 47.

The field of life coaching is still growing and clients need to do their research before signing any contracts. Some are blatantly New Age and teach their clients things like how to use the chakra system, telepathy, psychometry, clairvoyance, meditation, etc.

One Metaphysical Life Coach claims to teach how “to facilitate spiritual growth and insight in Cosmic Laws for the ‘searcher’ that he/she may expand their current reality and consciousness.” (Say what?)

But at least with these coaches, you know where you stand. The problem is with those who don’t advertise their New Age backgrounds, such as one “Self Esteem” coach I came across who is also a yoga instructor and a “Career Coach” who doubles as a Reiki Master.

Another Life Coach and clinical social worker, says she left the field of social work because she wanted to create a position that would allow her to “engage in the pursuits that nourish my soul (knitting, spiritual pursuits, energy work, astrology, painting, gardening).” When you visit her website, you discover she’s also a Reiki Master.

Sadly, the New Age is so prevalent in this field many Christian coaches state upfront that they will not promote New Age beliefs (whether they carry through on this in practice is a risk one would have to assume).

I’m sure there are many fine and upstanding life coaches out there, but before signing a contract it is highly recommended (by the International Coach Federation) that a person speak with three prospective coaches and request two or more references from each.

Because there are no licensing requirements or oversight of this industry, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) encourages prospective clients to look into the certification of a coach and warns that some scammers lie about their credentials.

“Do some online research about the type of certification your business ‘coach’ says she has, and even talk to some former or current students about their experiences with the business coaching program,” the FTC recommends.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the hiring process, such as how much experience they have and what success they’ve had in helping their clients. If they claim to be Christian, ask for a reference from their pastor to determine if they’re in good standing with the parish.

Because the coaching industry is not regulated and has no oversight, consumers are on their own when it comes to selecting a reputable coach, a requirement they are advised to take seriously before inviting a coach into their lives.

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