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Should the Life Coaching Industry Be Regulated?

life coach regulationsYeah, I’ve heard horror stories about life coaches, too.

Undertrained, even naïve practitioners take on clients who may be suffering, sometimes from a clinical disorder, then…disaster.

Some life coaching clients just waste their money on incompetent coaches. Others are more tragically misled.

What can we do about the life coaches who probably shouldn’t be giving advice to their dogs?

The government can step in with regulations. States can require licensing, instituting education and testing requirements, ethical guidelines and so forth. It won’t solve the problem. However, regulations would give those harmed a formal way to complain.

Statistics in the medical industry, which includes mental health, offer an interesting opportunity to speculate.

According to the National Practitioner Database, there were 433,151 adverse reaction reports filed on behalf of healthcare practitioners between 2005-2016. An adverse reaction report is generated when formal disciplinary action is taken against a practitioner.

The sheer volume of adverse actions suggests that building a regulating bureaucracy around an industry does not prevent incompetence, malpractice, or ethical misconduct. Bear in mind that these statistics do not include the inevitably higher number of violations that went unreported.

Granted we have no idea how much malpractice would have occurred in the absence of regulations. Does all the regulation actually prevent problems that would have occurred otherwise? We assume it does and it may be a safe assumption. However, as soon as you begin looking into this, you’ll be swept into a whirlwind of contradicting opinions. It’s so hard to know.

Regulation and licensing boards do give victims a formal way to take action against a practitioner when malpractice occurs and also allow for proper monitoring of the industry.

And all the regulation spawns even more industry.

Patients are made aware of their right to complain and per human nature, some patients take action against their providers even though the medical outcomes were the best possible under the circumstances. If you’re a medical doctor, depending on your specialty, you have between 75-99% chance of being sued by the age of 65.

Insurance companies jump at the chance to protect practitioners with liability policies. Lawyers are hired to file lawsuits against the docs and their insurance companies when bad things happen. Prices skyrocket all around and money flows into the economy. Accountants and various bean counters step in to manage the cash.

Before you know it, the lawyers, CPA’s and insurance companies are running the show. Managing profit and liability becomes the driver of health care. Welcome to America.

Shall we throw life coaches into the mix?

I don’t know. I’m sure there are worse ideas. However, I’m not convinced regulating life coaches will prevent problems that come from incompetence. Since when does licensing someone who can pass a test and sign a form prove that said someone is ethical and competent to practice the healing arts?

In my experience, licensed or not, gifted practitioners educate themselves without compulsion and exercise good judgment regardless of who’s looking over their shoulder. It’s up to you to find them.

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National Practitioner Database

Should the Life Coaching Industry Be Regulated?

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2017). Should the Life Coaching Industry Be Regulated?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 19, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/nlp/2017/08/should-the-life-coaching-industry-be-regulated/


Last updated: 30 Aug 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Aug 2017
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.