5 Ways To Reveal Life Coach Scams In 2024

There are a lot of life coach scams out there. It’s a sad truth of the life coaching industry. In this guide, you’ll learn how to spot and avoid them.

Having worked with several amazing coaches and helped hundreds of life coaching clients, it’s in my best interests to expose the phoneys ruining the reputation of this industry.

But if you’re considering getting started with life coaching, it’s also in your best interests to learn how to spot the frauds.

So, let’s take a look at my top five ways to reveal life coach scams.   

Life Coach Scam
Photo by Moose Photos from Pexels

1. Look For ICF Qualifications

My first and most important tip is to search for coaches with qualifications that are accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF).

This body is recognised as the strictest and most reputable governing body for coaching certifications. In order to be accredited by the ICF, a life coaching course has to ensure its students are taught a detailed curriculum based on the ICF Code of Ethics and the ICF Core Coaching Competencies.

The courses must be taught by coaches who already have ICF accreditations. To receive an ICF accreditation, students must score well in their final exam and complete at least 60 hours of monitored coaching. They also have to take part in additional monitored coaching every three years to keep their accreditation. 

Obtaining an ICF accreditation takes a long time and it isn’t easy. But that’s why you can be sure an ICF-accredited coach isn’t a scammer.

Even if a coach is working in a smaller niche, such as productivity coaching, intimacy coaching or somatic coaching, an ICF accreditation is the best way to guarantee they’re the real deal. 

If a coach has an ICF accreditation, you’re going to find a digital certificate on their website. You’ll never find one on a non-accredited coach’s website.   

There are other life coaching courses that one can take to call themselves a ‘qualified coach’. However, you might have no idea how much work was done to achieve that qualification. The coach may have paid a one-off fee to some bogus organisation to become instantly ‘certified’. 

It’s also possible for a life coach to launch a business without any qualifications. These individuals might try to convince clients that qualifications are unimportant in the life coaching industry… 

That’s true in the sense that there are no regulators stopping unqualified coaches from starting a life coaching business and trying to secure clients. Still, you would have to be foolish to think an unqualified coach will provide a better experience than one who has taken the time to become accredited by the ICF.

2. Get In Touch With Their References

An experienced life coach won’t hesitate to provide references from previous students. 

However, it is possible that newer coaches are yet to have obtained any references. 

In this case, it’s up to you to decide whether you’re going to work with a new coach who has less experience, based on their pricing and other factors on this list. 

3. Consume Their Content

Most decent life coaches will engage in content marketing; the practice of putting out free content to show off their knowledge. 

So, browse the web to see what they have made for you to consume. Look for something on their social media pages too.   

They might not have a back catalog of content to match Tony Robbins, but it’s reasonable to expect some good content that outlines what they know, especially if they claim to have years of experience in their field.

Make sure the content provides helpful information and isn’t based solely on image, prestige or social proof. 

A lot of ‘get rich quick’ self-help scammers seek out customers with useless content, based on how rich they are, rather than what knowledge they have to help you. These fraudsters will usually tell you their secrets are hidden in their expensive new course, which turns out to be garbage. It’s a common trap that many people fall into.

Also, don’t be sold on the legitimacy of a coach just because they’ve written a book. Read it first. While many great coaches have self-published books, it is also possible for scammers to self-publish a terrible book that offers no value.

4. Understand What Does A Life Coach Do Exactly? 

Life coaches aren’t supposed to tell you what to do with your life. They don’t have the secrets to success, happiness or riches ready to give you.

However, they do have the skills to help you find these things for yourself. 

Every person has blind spots and limiting beliefs preventing them from reaching their true potential. These mental hurdles are almost impossible to identify on your own. 

A life coach has been taught how to ask the right questions to find your blind spots, then help you to identify your own mental blocks and make your own decisions.   

This is how accredited life coaches can help entrepreneurs launch and run a six-figure business, even without having done so themselves.

Life coaches are a tool to help you understand what you need to be fulfilled. But, you’ve still got to put in the hard work, not them. You’re not going to become enlightened just by turning up to your coaching sessions.

Perhaps those who accuse all life coaches of being scammers were expecting their life to be magically fixed. Maybe they ran into a phoney coach who made false promises.      

If a life coach is promising to tell you what to do with your life, or a life of happiness without you having to put in the work, they may well be a scam artist. 

5. Jump On A Discovery Call

Most life coaches will make time for a free discovery call to see if potential clients would be a good fit. Never hand over money without completing a discovery call. 

The coach will use this call to find some basic information about the client, their struggles and what they think they need.  

They’ll then set out the expectations for what a client can expect to achieve during a life coaching program.  

A discovery call also provides an opportunity to see if you get on well with the coach. Do you like them? Do they seem to know their stuff? Could they help with your specific problem? If you want to ask any questions about their services, this is the time to do it.  

You can expect them to highlight the benefits of hiring a coach, and maybe even push you to sign up immediately. At the end of the day, they have a business to run and need sales to pay the bills. 

But, if they are promising unrealistic results or pushing way too aggressively for your money, that’s a red flag.

You should be excited (even if a little nervous) to get started by the end of your discovery call. If you feel like something is off with your coach, don’t hand any money over.

Continue your search and find someone you like better. Someone you’re excited to spend time learning from. Don’t make a rash decision.  

Got Any More Questions About Life Coach Scams? 

I hope this guide helps you to find a good life coach to work with. 

There are many great coaches out there. Choosing the right one really could make a lasting impact on your future.    

If you want to know more about this topic, or would like some extra advice on choosing the right person to coach you, leave a question in the comments section. 

I really value your input and will give my best shot at answering your queries.

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About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.