Crabby Old Lady might, on a good day, accept the idea of a Career Coach. Life Coach, however, fairly screams SCAM! And when she discovered recently that some of these unregulated counselors, who most frequently ply their trade by telephone, promote themselves as Elder or Retirement Coaches, she had such a snit that Ollie the cat ran for cover under the bed.
One guy offers to explore issues and problems around retirement and aging “by telephone from anywhere in the world. 50 percent off for seniors.” Another offers email coaching for those who can’t afford telephone coaching. A third “elder coach” apparently believes there is nothing left for old people except illness and dying. There is no mention of living.
It’s a dead giveaway that something is amiss when a web search for “life coach” turns up more listings for “how to become a life coach” than coaching itself, and the paid Google ad at the top of the search page is also for life coach training. It looks like a Ponzi scheme to Crabby.
As she waded through websites of coaches who include elders among their targeted dupes, Crabby began having a strong sense of déjà vu – and for good reason. She eventually realized she was reading the same material again and again. At least half a dozen sites she visited used this marketing spiel, word-for-word, whether they were touting life or elder coaching:
“Have you asked yourself these questions:
- “I need to feel more alive and passionate in my daily life. What’s my soul purpose?
- “Something’s missing but I don’t know what. Can I find my creativity and imagination again?
- “My life must mean more than this. How do I integrate my daily life into a sacred, soulful, and cohesive experience?
- “My life is so disjointed, not quite together. Will I consciously claim the tension of opposites in my life: light and dark; fire and ice; joy and sorrow?
- “I sometimes feel alone and somewhat lost. Do I know how to honor nature and do I trust my connection to the cosmos?
- “I don’t know who I am anymore. Will I claim my intuition and my ability to tune in to universal truth?
- "I want to do something new. Where do I begin?"
Aside from the fact that the new age-y, pseudo-spiritual language makes Crabby twitch, if you’ve gotten to be 55 or 60 or older and haven’t dealt with these issues, well, maybe you do need an elder life coach - even one with no discernible qualifications.
For the rest of us – and Crabby believes that means all sentient elders – it’s obvious that these flimflam artists are practicing psychotherapy without a degree and doing it long distance. Anyone can set themselves up as a career, life or elder coach with or without certification from one of any number of phony coaching institutions which have no standard requirements and promise to turn anyone into a coach for $946 – or thereabouts.
One of the sad realities of getting old is that many elders are alone and lonely - people who can easily fall prey to an imposter with a warm voice and sympathetic ear while fleecing their trusting marks of food money. And make no mistake, these are predators.
If you doubt that, consider this: Tim Dowling, writing recently in the guardian.uk, recounted his experience investigating life coaching:
“If I complete the course, I will receive a short sentence that gives my reason for being on Earth, something like ‘I show the way’ or ‘I explore in wonder.’”
Undoubtedly there are people - even some elders - who can find meaning in such blather from an stranger across a telephone line - or even in person. For the rest of us, the journey is in the personal seeking to understand what life is about, and if there are any answers they will be found in private moments in our own hearts and minds, and not from an internet purveyor of instant wisdom suitable for framing.
Without fail, Crabby Old Lady reads Chris Locke’s missives on the research he’s doing for Mystique Bourgeoisie, a book subtitled, “Numinous Lunacy & the Sanctimonious Narcissism of the New Age++” which he also describes as:
“The unlikely story of how America slipped the surly bonds of earth & came to believe in signs & portents that would make the middle ages blush.”
If Chris has not already considered it, life coaching or, of particular interest to Crabby, elder life coaching, could easily fill a chapter among his collection of charlatans, fakes and dangerous rogues.