In past writings we accused the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) of being “biblical charlatans,” because their programs are presented as biblical, but they are inflated and infected with the very wisdom of man about which God has warned His people. Sadly the AACC does not believe in the sufficiency of God’s Word when it comes to those problems of living generally taken to a psychotherapist. We gave examples of this in previous articles.1
Sadly, the AACC is at it again. Light University is an unaccredited school set up to market and generate huge enrollments that produce huge incomes from their home study programs. What does “unaccredited school” mean? It means that private and public universities, colleges, and seminaries that are accredited would likely not accept these paid-for and completed courses and their certificates. These AACC unaccredited courses would be, so to speak, “persona non grata” in the regular academic world, because unaccredited schools usually do not meet even the minimum academic requirements to be accredited.
In addition to their other financially successful programs, AACC is now offering a “Professional Life Coaching Training Series.” Their hype includes such statements as: “Christian Life Coaches are earning as much as $85 – $100 per hour for personal coaching and can even demand higher fees for executive or business coaching.” They add, “Additionally, corporate coaches are getting paid $1,000 a day for leading training sessions to maximize employee potential.” They also say, “Life Coaching is huge! Christian coaching is exploding! Millions of people who don’t need counseling still hire coaches to assist them in achieving their most important life goals.”2 Well that’s the AACC hype; what’s the reality and truth about life coaching?
We compared the mailing we received from the AACC on their “Professional Life Coaching Certificate Training Program” with three secular associations for coaches. We went to the web sites of the International Coach Foundation, Sherpa Executive Coaching, and the Certified Coaches Federation. In addition we interviewed representatives from these three organizations. We did not see the AACC type of hype on any of the web sites of these three organizations, nor did their representatives hyperbolically present their training programs. Those three web sites and their representatives gave modest descriptions of their organization and offerings compared with the exaggeration and puffery involved in the AACC Life Coaching Programs. Check out the web sites of these three coaching organizations and compare what they say with what the AACC says about its Light University program and it will be obvious that the AACC is over the top with respect to their program promotion.
One of our frustrations with AACC is that they do not footnote what they quote from others. In other words, they quote and give a source, such as the National Post (NP) and the International Coach Foundation (ICF), but no specific document from which they cite. For example AACC says that, according to the NP, “Coaching is the second-fastest growing profession in the world, rivaled only by information technology.” Additionally their puff piece for the Life Coaching certificate program says, “The International Coach Federation estimates that with as few as 15 clients, a life coach can earn $50,000 a year working from home just a few hours a week.” We called both the National Post and the International Coach Federation and no one could confirm the source of those quotes. With all of the PhDs listed by the AACC, one would think they would know better.
In another hyped-up blurb (without a footnote), the AACC says, “In fact, U.S. News & World Report now ranks Life Coaching among the nation’s hottest consulting activities.” However, a 2009 U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) reported on “This Year’s Best Careers.” USNWR says, “The steepest economic decline in decades has dramatically changed the long-term outlook for certain occupations.”
After reporting on how they found “This Year’s Best Careers,” they say, “We’re committed to finding careers that are not only smart choices today but will have terrific staying power.” USNWR provides a table of “30 Best Careers for 2009.” Life coaching by whatever name is not on the list.3 Recently USNWR listed “50 of the most promising careers for the new economy.” They say:
For this year’s list, U.S. News examined the Labor Department’s growth projections for 2008 to 2018. We looked for occupations that will add jobs at an above-average rate over the next decade or so, and those that provide a median income above the national median of $32,400. We combed the data for jobs with enough bulk to make them worth mentioning.
USNWR says after their research: “In the end, we came up with a list of 50 jobs that present some of the best opportunities for workers in five categories.”4 Why is life coaching not on either list? Probably because life coaching, contrary to the AACC claims, is not a best career choice!
We contacted Sherpa Executive Coaching, which is “an executive coach training and certification institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, and sponsored by the executive education programs at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas and the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia.”
Executive coaching is different from life coaching and generally generates much higher incomes. However, the “2009 Sherpa Executive Coaching Survey” also reports “Annual Earnings for Life Coaches.” Sherpa’s survey reports the following:
Our data shows a substantial drop in earnings for newer life coaches. Last year, earnings for coaches in business under 3 years dropped 40%. This year, those depressed levels were unchanged, and we saw a startling new development: Earnings for life coaches in business 3-5 years plummeted, losing over 40%, as well … life coaches at every level have been reporting marked decreases in the number of clients they serve.5
One major difference between executive coaching and life coaching is the greater effect on life coaching income related to the economy. Executive coaches are generally paid by corporations. Life coaching is affected to a far greater degree because it is primarily personal monies on the part of the client who decides whether or not to spend the money. Because it is discretionary, it is strongly influenced by the economy.
According to Sherpa, there is not only “a substantial drop in earnings for newer life coaches,” but the field of life coaching is already over-saturated.6
AACC reports, “Over 120,000 students & churches already enrolled in Light University.” This reveals how many Christians have already trusted AACC’s past questionable offerings and is an indication of how popular the Life Coaching Program will probably be. The latest mailing from AACC (November 2009) advertises two new certificates of “Advanced Life coach” and “Master Life Coach.” AACC reports that “More than 6,000 students already enrolled in the Life Coach Program.” At $400 paid for each course, that amounts to $2,400,000 for those 6000 students. And, if all 6000 students complete the five-course sequence, that would amount to $12,000,000! The AACC continuously preys on the naiveté of Christians by appealing to their flesh through the puffery of their programs. Don’t be duped by them!
1 “American Association of Christian Counselors: Biblical Charlatans,” PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Vol. 16, No. 2, March-April, 2008, http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/aacc_charlatans_16-2.html; “AACC & Balaam’s Ass,” PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Vol. 9, No. 1, Jan.-Feb. 2001, http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/balaam91.html; “AACC At It Again,” PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Vol. 10, No. 5, Sept.-Oct. 2002, http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/aacc105.html; “AACC & CCEF,” PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Vol. 11, No. 3, June-July 2003; “AACC Caveat Emptor, Caveat Venditor,” PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, Vol. 12, No. 6, Nov.-Dec. 2004, http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/aacc12_6.html;
2 Light University brochure on “Professional Life Coaching Certificate Training Program.”
3 “This Year’s Best Careers,” U.S. News & World Report, Vol. 146, No. 4, p. 26.
4 Liz Wolgemuth, “America’s Best Careers, U.S. News & World Report, Vol. 147, No. 5, pp. 20, 22.
5 “2009 Sherpa Executive Coaching Survey,” p. 15, http://www.sherpacoaching.com/survey.html.
6 Telephone interview 4/27/09.
(PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, July-August 2010, Vol. 18, No. 4)