When personal development goes too far

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We’ve all had moments where we’ve wished we could change. Where we’ve imagined new lives, or revisited old wounds. But when it comes to complete transformation, who should you trust to help you heal?

For months, The Feed has been investigating one Australian organisation that claims to offer “amazing life-changing outcomes for more than 12,000 participants to date”.

Intensive and experiential, The Feed has heard from some former participants that the organisation’s workshops have changed their lives for the better. However, some participants have told The Feed they had concerns about the program and its controversial treatments.

Since the 1970s the personal growth movement has grown into a massive global industry worth over $50 billion annually. From self-help celebrities like Tony Robbins who book out stadiums, to life coaches on Instagram; there are minds to mend, and money to be made.

On the pricier end of the self-improvement spectrum are the mysterious getaways and retreats gaining prominence in our popular culture. From the ‘healing’ portrayed in Nine Perfect Strangers to critiques of the industry in White Lotus, the idea of ‘the best self-improvement money can buy’ is filtering through to our screens. 

So how does personal development play out in real life? 

In our investigation, The Feed spoke with an organisation which runs a range of workshops. They told The Feed they use over 40 modalities; many of which are not taught in traditional clinical education fields and most of which are not available through traditional clinical settings. According to the organisation, their practices can help those who haven’t found closure from more conventional counselling or therapy. 

When asked what qualifications the organisation’s staff or crew have for their involvement in these activities, they said many of those helping to facilitate these workshops are life coaches. 

Unlike in psychology, life coaching is unregulated in Australia. Whereas practising psychologists are held accountable by a profession-wide code of conduct, there is no equivalent in the personal development industry. There is also no independent body or organisation where consumers can lodge a complaint about organisations or individuals in the life coaching space. 

As one individual told The Feed: “no-one’s watching”. 

Tonight, at an earlier time of 9.30pm, The Feed pulls back the curtain on one of the most secretive personal development organisations in Australia, and the charismatic leader who runs it.