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Life Coach Red Flags: What to Watch Out For

Have you ever had a negative experience with a coach or therapist? I have a social media follower who was deeply hurt by a life coach. The details and what they did are not necessary to share.

I have thought long and hard about how to respond to this painful incident, so I decided to write an article to address this issue. And this is super important to read if you have been thinking about hiring a coach, therapist, or healer.

As a life coach for entrepreneurs, I want to make sure people leave me feeling better, not worse. As such, this article will discuss items to consider before hiring a coach. This also applies if you are interested in working with a therapist, doctor, or healer.

The first and foremost important part is learning about your coach’s history. You are sharing personal and sensitive information about yourself. The next section will discuss how to do proper research.

Research is necessary because narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths, and con artists love working in professions where people are emotionally vulnerable. Ensure that they're consistent in what they say. Liars often have ambiguous messages.

Learn the history and education of your life coach

It amazes me how many people rely solely on word-of-mouth or popularity. While social proof is significant, you need to feel safe enough to share your problems with a stranger in a secure, supportive environment.

Also, don’t get mesmerized by the razzle and dazzle. Someone saying all the pop psychology buzzwords doesn’t necessarily mean they’re knowledgeable. I’ve talked to licensed therapists and psychologists who only exhibit a surface-level understanding of trauma and addiction.

To make sure they’re the real deal, read their testimonials, listen to multiple episodes of their podcasts/videos, and read their articles or books. 

Research is necessary because narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths, and con artists love working in professions where people are emotionally vulnerable. Ensure that they’re consistent in what they say. Liars often have ambiguous messages.

Next, I want to share a little about me and how I work. If you haven’t done so already, I would encourage you to read more about my life.

picture of Denise g lee in white blazer

About me, Denise G. Lee

Although I am not a therapist, I use cognitive-based therapy techniques in conjunction with transactional analysis. That is a fancy way of me saying that I use thoughts to help you understand your past so that you can safely navigate through your present reality.

Why am I a life coach specializing in trauma and addiction?

I do this work because of my past trauma of being sexually, verbally, and physically abused by my mother from birth until I was 14 years old. 

My father was a womanizer who gave me sick and abusive mother-substitutes when I stopped living with my mother. I am a rape victim, a recovering alcoholic, and a sex addict.

Trust me – I know trauma. 

But I also know healing. I have spent hours working with people and understanding trauma and healing work.

How I work with clients

I don’t deal with the client’s feelings. Yes, feelings are what we as humans need to survive. However, short of death or using medication, you cannot negotiate with your feelings. So I don’t try to.

I work to understand your thought patterns and help you see yourself, your situation, and others in an objective light.

Controlling your thoughts unlocks the power to transform your life.

At this time, I only work with full-time entrepreneurial clients. However, if you are still interested in learning from me, please:

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is essential to feel connected with your coach. In the next section, I will explain why this is crucial.

How to connect with your life coach

Signs of a bad and great coach

There are some coaches who enter or stay in the healing profession for all the wrong reasons. 

Initially, they may have wanted to help others, but while interacting with the general population, they have become sensitive to dealing with topics that trigger their own unhealed trauma. Consequently, they may deflect, evade or, in some cases, ridicule a client to avoid their inner shame.

In contrast, a great coach is like a magician; they know how to connect with you without making you feel like a complete mess. It’s almost like a rare art that only a few can master. I mean, who wants to be belittled or patronized during their coaching sessions? Not me, that’s for sure.

So, if your coach can make you feel motivated, challenged and self-assured without having to resort to negative feedback, you might have found yourself a “coaching unicorn.”

Feel connected with your coach

It doesn’t matter how competent or professional your coach is; if you don’t feel connected with them after the first or even second session, don’t hesitate to communicate your fears and concerns. Healing from trauma and improving your mindset requires willing and able people. A great coach will help you analyze your fears and concerns.

In the next section, we will discuss what you, as the client, need to do before hiring a coach. This process of introspection will save you both time and money.

A coach who knows their stuff can help you find easier and more enjoyable ways to get the job done. It's like having a secret weapon! So if you're ready to crush those goals, make sure you find someone who can show you the ropes. Remember, working smarter, not harder is the name of the game!

Clarity about your needs 

Before you hire anyone, you must have clarity about why you need a coach. This is important because coaches like myself are selective as to who they will work with one-on-one.

As I mentioned earlier, I am a cognitive specialist who works helping you understand how messages from your life script impact you today. In addition, incorporate spirituality, not religion into my work. So, if you aren’t interested in understanding your past or things on an higher plane, I am not the coach for you. 

Be clear on who you want to work with and your motivations. Otherwise, be prepared to feel irritated and frustrated with your coach. Next, we will talk about another unspoken truth about working on your personal development.

Understand the healing is not easy or painless

The other day, I was talking to a friend of mine who had taken the brave step of starting therapy. I asked her how it was going, and she responded, “I’m having a great time!” to which I replied, “Then you’re probably not in therapy.”

Don’t confuse happiness with growth.

Real therapy or in-depth coaching is not easy. People often dislike asking themselves hard questions, and introspection can be frightening. If a coach or therapist allows you to take things at your own pace indefinitely, they are likely trying to squeeze you financially like a lemon.

The unsexy side of healing

Let me tell you about the unsexy part of healing, which includes something simple but so darn hard to do: paying attention to the words you tell yourself.

If you were raised in a difficult childhood, you may have been exposed to criticism and negativity routinely. Everyone around you might have been negative, and as a result, you became negative by default.

And due to your painful past, you may have continued down a path of self-defeating behavior, such as overeating, procrastination, or criticizing people online who don’t agree with you, *cough cough*.

When you think about it, it all goes back to the words you tell yourself, such as “it’s impossible” or “I can’t do it.”

Your words are powerful agents, so don’t use them to crush your dreams. A talented, cognitive-based coach can help you understand how your thoughts impact your choices and view of life. This process takes time, and anyone who says otherwise is a liar.

In the next and final section, I will share with you my final thoughts regarding hiring a life coach.

A person is holding their cell phone and looking at the screen.

Final thoughts about hiring a coach

Great coaches will collaborate to create a coaching plan that makes sense for you. Make sure you know who you are, what you want, and the person you want to become with the guidance and assistance of a coach. It is a team effort that needs two excited and motivated people who share the same goal of helping you to do better in all areas of your life.

I wish you the best on your healing journey. If you need more help, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact me.

Dig deeper: Click here to listen to this episode from my podcast or press the play button below.


The information in this article is for informational purposes only. No material in this article or website is to be a substitute for professional medical and/or mental health advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you read from me or anyone else online.

Also, this article is not designed to diagnose or treat you or anyone with a suspected mental health illness. Please, if you need help, seek appropriate help from a lawyer, health care provider or law enforcement officer.

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