I have recently started training to be a Life Coach (long story... to be told at a later date), a really fulfilling profession on the cusp of great things. Life Coaches assist clients by using a variety of techniques and tools, mostly evidence-based, and drawing from disciplines such as psychology, sociology, and counselling. I absolutely love that I'm learning how to help people identify and achieve their goals, be they personal or professional. It's such a new profession though, that there are literally thousands of different methodologies, tools and philosophies, and regulation of the industry is only just starting to get some teeth.
As part of my training, I am meeting with as many Life Coaches as I can, to learn from them and to build up my network of like-mindeds. I'm still very much a newbie to the profession, so any new knowledge is welcomed, and I love hearing about other people's stories, perspectives and experiences with Life Coaching.
Today I met with someone who should be, in my opinion, exposed to those steadily sharpening teeth of the industry's regulatory bodies.
Over the course of a coffee, we discussed why we had decided to become a Life Coach, where we studied, what sort of people we wanted to help, and the tools and techniques we used (or in my case as a beginner, that I plan to use once I'm accredited). It was all very nice, and I really felt I was learning many a thing from the chat. I didn't immediately warm to this person (whom I shall call 'Barry' from now on), but given I relate best to playful people who laugh easily and have a healthy appreciation of the whimsical and absurd, I was ok with that, as not everybody can meet those quite specific requirements on first meeting (hello to my fellow introverts).
Suddenly though, I felt uneasy at where the conversation was heading. 'Barry' mentioned casually that many of his clients have confessed to being sexually assaulted, and that it really doesn't take much for them to tell, maybe a couple of sessions. In the back of my mind I'm thinking: "Really? For many people, the trauma and social taboo of sexual assault may make it extremely difficult to tell anybody, let alone an executive coach that they have met maybe once or twice, that this traumatic experience has happened to them." I tried to put this aside and continue on with the conversation, until 'Barry' then said that with his scientifically-based methodology, he could 'fix' rape victims in 6 hours.
Here's where the warning bells went off, as well as a few stink bombs. I asked for how this was possible, and 'Barry' mentioned that he had gained certification in the methods of Dr John Demartini, an American coach and speaker/author who travels the world selling his 'Demartini Method'. I'd never heard of him before, but that doesn't mean much given my relative newness to the profession. Anyway, I Googled Demartini as soon as I got home, and found out some disturbing things. Dr Martini purports to base his method on science, particularly quantum physics, and is a proponent of the 'Law of Attraction', which states that everything in the Universe is vibrating and therefore when two things vibrate at the same frequency, they attract each other. In other words, if you think and feel that you are rich, you will attract money into your life. If you think and feel bad things, then bad things will be attracted to you. If you've heard of 'The Secret', then you're familiar with another very popular form of this belief.
Demartini's website promises that his method provides:
- A systematic pre-determined series of mental questions directed toward the objective of assisting an individual to feel present, certainty and gratitude.
- A procedure that neutralizes an individual's emotional charges, balances his or her mental and physical reactions, opens his or her heart and clears his or her mind.
- A continuous thinking process and writing action repeated over a course of time that results in a resolution of dis-equilibrated perceptions.
- A reproducible science enabling individuals to discover the underlying order governing their apparent daily chaos.
It's a little hard to understand what Demartini is referring to here, but from what I can surmise, he teaches a way of thinking positively so that you can realign your vibrations to a more positive state and hence attract positive things your way. Sure, I don't know the intricate details of the Demartini Method (you have to cough up lots of dollars to find out how, funnily enough), but I know enough from my own personal experience and studies that you create the positive things in your life by understanding what is important to you (values), identifying what it is that you want to achieve to honour those values (goals), then putting together a plan of action to achieve those goals, and then actually implementing that plan of action, revising as you go. You actually have to do work to get what you want. Just thinking about it and wishing for it won't make anything happen unless by sheer luck (and no vibrations). Positive thinking is great, and can certainly help people shift mindsets and limiting beliefs, but it has to be supported by actions.
How the hell do you explain the Demartini way of the universe to somebody who has been raped and make them feel any better? That they were thinking negative things, therefore they attracted negative things to happen to them? That in a way, they deserved what they got because they weren't thinking positively enough? What a dangerous and possibly traumatic methodology. What if your client was sexually assaulted as a child? Is it because they had negative thoughts back as an 8 year old that some horrendous individual was 'attracted' to them via universal vibrations? I'd love to see Dr Demartini or 'Barry' provide their two-bits worth at the upcoming Australian Royal Commission into child sexual assault. That'd sure make for some interesting conclusions and recommendations.
Life Coaches do not train to be therapists. Some coaches are also therapists and counsellors, but receive these skills through separate qualifications. What concerns me is that 'Barry' actively treats clients who have been traumatised by rape. Ethical guidelines for the Life Coaching profession state that coaches must refer on any client who shows signs of needing counselling and/or therapy unless they are separately qualified to perform those services. It is dangerous and unethical ground that this person is treading on.
PS - Dr Demartini is a chiropractor by training.