I have a colleague who has employed a business coach for some years. He had a small business and found the services of the coach invaluable. He says that his coach enables him to think about problems in a different way.
During this time, his coach has accompanied him through many difficult circumstances including his ultimate bankruptcy. (His coach enables him to think of this as a positive experience). He now runs a business in his wife’s name and his coach is still retained – now paid for by his wife. It is possible that this will now lead to the same conclusion for his wife.
What is really going on in this situation? Is this typical of the coaching scenario? Or are there more complex and perverse processes being played out?
Obviously my friend is a very good client for the coach as he is totally committed to the coaching process. The coach also makes a regular income from my friend in this role.
However, in this case, I know that the motives of the coach are entirely sincere. He genuinely wants to help (He owns a coaching franchise). Likewise, my friend says that without his coach, he could not really continue to try to rebuild his failed business and really needs him.
What we have here is a potential situation where co-dependency has arisen. My friend has become so reliant on the coach as a crutch, that he is now dependant – addicted. There is also a good possibility that the coach himself is predisposed to what a research paper by INSEAD (2010) labelled as ‘rescuer syndrome’. Co-dependency is a damaging and destructive dynamic.
With the boundaries between coaching and psychotherapeutic approaches becoming increasingly blurred, there is now an increasingly powerful argument for the regulation of the coaching industry.
At the present time anyone can set up a coaching business with little or no training or even business or leadership experience. There are also franchise brandings which can be purchased which offer a few days training after which one becomes ‘qualified’.
This is surely not a satisfactory situation and is one which, if not addressed, will inevitably damage the longer term reputation of the professional coaches who are duly qualified and supervised in carrying out this work.