UNQUALIFIED: Though touted as a billion dollar industry, many life coaches aren't qualified, don't turn a profit, and are taking advantage of their customers.

Author:Penrod, Emma

Like many of the coaching industry's early adopters, Kim Giles' first exposure to coaching came via a corporate job, where she was responsible for sales training. As she tried to boost her team's performance, she says, it quickly became apparent that most employees' problems stemmed from issues of personal development. "They were insecure, they didn't really feel comfortable," Ms. Giles says. "So I started developing a program to help people get past their fears."

Ms. Giles was far from an overnight success. About nine years ago, she began writing a weekly advice column for KSL after appearing in a Good Morning America contest for all kinds of "advice gurus." Her column is now syndicated by multiple publications, and Ms. Giles spends most of her time running Clarity Point Coaching, a school for other would-be professional advice-givers.

She earned her first coaching certification in the early 2000s but said she found that most existing coaching programs weren't effective. So she began conducting research and experimenting with her own techniques. "It took me seven years before I had what I felt was tested enough that I could train other people," Ms. Giles says.

There's no doubt in Ms. Giles' mind that coaching has grown in popularity over recent years, particularly in Utah. "Almost all of us would like to do something that makes a difference in the lives of other people, and would like to be helpers." There's just one problem, she says: "[The industry] is so flooded right now, but it's not necessarily flooded with people who are trained to do it. It's just people who have jumped in because they can."


According to Ms. Giles, emerging coaches today are entering a very different marketplace. When she started, most of her prospective customers had never heard of life coaching. Today, the notion is far more common--and there are far, far more coaches.

That isn't to suggest that demand has not increased--Ms. Giles believes it has. The increased prevalence of anxiety and depression in society has many individuals looking to safeguard or improve their mental health. Coaching, Ms. Giles says, is an early but emerging industry in a similar stage as was the fitness industry in the 60s and 70s.

"As human beings, now that our basic needs are met, we're trying to improve at a higher level," Ms. Giles says. "We're trying to show up as a better human being, [with] more balance, [and] better with people. It's a natural progression."

The growth...

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