Quarter-Life Crisis Survivors Become Underqualified Life Coaches

Life coaching is starting to look a little bit like the pre (and probably post)-bust lending industry: anything goes nobody has to worry about silly regulations! The New York Times ran a story yesterday about the increasing number of 25-35-year-old aspiring life coaches — life experience be damned! — and the opportunistic colleges that are scrambling to accommodate them with accredited programs. But who ever would pay, say, $125 for a one-hour, weekly session with a 27-year-old life coach like Jeannine Yoder? It turns out a lot of people would, including a 52-year-old yoga instructor and a 41-year-old vegan nutritionist, two women with at least a decade on the person they've chosen to steer them through middle age.

Accredited life-coaching programs already exist at such venerable institutions as Harvard, Yale, and NYU, and Terrence E. Maltbia, director of Columbia's Coaching Certification Program, says that he's seen demand for certification rising since 2007 "across the board, but especially among young people." Universities, however, have entered the coaching racket late, as online training and accreditation programs have been flourishing in the back alleys of the internet for years. These programs have also started encouraging their newly-minted coaches to forgo the face-to-face session in favor of online or phone coaching because that's how the internet rolls — at arm's length, all the time.

The new class of young coaches include people like 22-year-old crisis intervention officer Avian Morales, who put his coaching site up just a week before New Year's, as well as the considerably sager Mindy Aisling (32), who graduated from the can't-miss Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching in Seattle and says of her peers, "The majority of people in my class were my age or younger." Then again, 35-year-old (failed) screenwriter Sean Stewart wasn't in her class because he got his life-coach certification from the online program at Master Coach University's Quickstart, which is conducted entirely via Skype or phone for the bargain price of $449 or, in terms of shattered dreams, four screenplays featuring a hard boiled gumshoe named "Stewart Sean." With regard to the young, life coaching pioneers littered over the internet, Janet Harvey, incoming president of the International Coaching Federation, has only two words, "Buyer beware."

Young coaches aren't necessarily bad coaches. I mean, you'd take advice from Doogie Howser, wouldn't you? Or that homeless science whiz, because, in addition to being obviously intelligent, she probably knows a few things about the fickle fortunes of life. However, people who obviously don't have their own shit sorted out shouldn't be doling out advice to people in need of guidance, even if they can get a piece of paper authorizing them to do so.

Should a Life Coach Have a Life First? [NY Times]

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