Updated: Jul 17, 2020
It can be hard to stay in your lane of expertise sometimes. There is so much pressure to create enticing offerings, to stand out, and generate an income, but that is when ethics can fly straight out the window. I am speaking specifically to other privileged white women like myself, because that is me, staying in my damn lane of expertise.
It is common in self-development, and health and wellness spaces, to make a go of whatever your heart desires for as much or as little effort as you choose. You can become a yoga teacher after 200 hours of training, and start teaching right away. You can buy a massage table and massage without a license. You can take a weekend workshop and bam, you are a certified Reiki practitioner, or “energy healer,” and start working on people without any clinic hours or supervision. I just did a quick google search and found a course for $19.49.
Want to be a Life Coach? The level of training also varies from no training at all — a quickie weekend seminar, to year-long courses that can be quite rigorous. Are some of the best life coaches and healers formally trained? Maybe yes, maybe no, but that is the chance we take; that they know where their lane is, and stay there. People don’t usually know the level of training people have when it comes to unregulated modalities, certifications, and coaching.
I am not one for gatekeeping people from doing their life’s work, and I am not saying that higher education is the answer for everyone, nor do some people have access to that option. I am saying do no harm — and harm can frequently happen with unregulated professions. Yes, harm can also come from regulated ones, but less often because regulated professionals are held accountable by a regulatory college whose first job is to protect the public.
Take, for example, the essential oils multi-level marketing (network marketing) companies. To become a Certified Aromatherapist; it takes two years. To become a wellness advocate hosting events and parties, where some of these women give blatant medical advice (not ok) under the guise of stress reduction and self-care; all it takes is a phone call and your credit card.
The reason I am bringing this up is that we live in a time where there is an abundance of coaches, pseudo healers and reckless wellness warriors who are faking it till they make it. Some are blatantly negligent, and plenty of them are also part of network marketing businesses, murking up the waters by attempting to reel you in like a fish under false pretenses.
Sometimes your life experience is enough; sometimes, it’s not. The majority of people don’t ask a lot of questions or know what they are signing up for when they are being offered a free consultation, or get an invite to an event, or when Susan from work recommends a “healer” that she swears by, only for you to have an awful experience. I have been in some pretty weird situations being in the wellness industry for so long and trying out all sorts of new healers and modalities. Again; the chance we take.
People don’t ask the right questions because they are not familiar with the modalities. Do you know how many people ask me what Reiki is? After explaining it, I always caution to be discerning about who you let mess with your energy. There is more room for potential harm when people work well beyond their scope and abilities, with no one holding them accountable.
We all have gaps in our knowledge; I will be the first to admit it. In some of my other articles, I talked about what it was like to become aware of my privileges as a white woman living in North America, with a narrow-minded view of the world, and talked about those who I thought I could “lead” to healing. Yikes.
You live, you learn, you hold yourself accountable, you do better.
I was a fleeting Nutrition and Wellness coach that studied at The Integrative School of Nutrition in New York City, which is a year-long course. Although I enjoyed the material, I didn’t feel equipped to be coaching clients on their health and wellness because with their health, came with other things, like grief, trauma, relationship complications and other mental health issues; things I felt were out of my scope. It is not to say you can't go deep being a coach but you do need to be trauma informed, basing your style off of lived experience without accountability or a college with boundaries and ethics creates the issue of safety for potential clients.
I am glad that using discernment as a tool has become a massive part of my life. I hope after reading this, you will also have the confidence to ask questions when seeking out people to support your healing; you are allowed to ask questions and do your research.
I do believe that some coaching programs, weekend workshops, and certifications can produce competency. I see them as a jumping off point to learn how to help clients accomplish their goals, learn some bodywork techniques, and provide a safe landing pad as people work through tough life situations. However, when online certificates are being shelled out like candy, it’s hard to know who you can trust. When someone isn’t being transparent about their level of knowledge or expertise, it is a great disservice to the people they are taking money from.