Life-coaching courses yet to be a hit among locals
China’s rapid development has inherently induced more pressure to the lives of many of its citizens and has, as a result, developed a willingness in people to embrace professional advice on how to better manage the demands in life.
Xiao Yi is a 37-year-old life coach in Shanghai. When she started out five years ago, few people knew about such a career in the city. However these days, half of the audience at her group coaching workshops are Chinese. They focus on common concerns such as stress relief, habit changes and self-discovery.
Her company, Octave, launched a person development center named “The Living Room” in Shanghai on Oct 30. Affiliated to the Singapore-headquartered IMC Pan Asia Alliance Group, the establishment offers programs besides life-coaching sessions, such as health and nutrition management.
Xiao has noticed that Chinese people are generally most concerned about their careers and many complain that colleagues or work partners are unprofessional. Xiao has also observed that the Chinese are more goal-oriented and pragmatic, as compared with foreigners who are more focused on self development.
Lin Zi, founder of the psychological consultancy agency Linzi Counseling, which also provides coaching programs, can testify to the growing interests of the Chinese in lifecoaching-related programs and workshops. She said that her clients are largely welleducated people aged between 30 and 45 years old from middle income classes and above. Many of them boast having working experience in a foreign company or having lived overseas, factors which make them more receptive to the service.
According to Lin, the demand for life-coaching courses in China started around 2005. During this period, foreign companies had brought in these programs as part of their employee welfare packages, leading many Chinese companies to follow suit. Based on a report by coachingsurveys.com in 2014, more than 60 percent of companies in China have used coaching services in 2014, up 43.6 percent from 2012.
However, there is still a long way to go before the Chinese fully embrace the industry. One of the hurdles is the training and accreditation of life coaches.
“Some people call themselves coaches after having learned just one or two coaching techniques. This sort of behavior may disrupt the whole industry and affect people’s opinion of life coaches, thus making it more difficult to build the trust between clients and coaches,” Lin said.
Another problem is the fact that Chinese people are not accustomed to paying for something that may only produce a yield many years later. In an interview with City Weekend magazine last year, Singaporean life coach Jeff Tan reiterated this point, adding that the Chinese are also hesitant about paying for an intangible result.
Lin said that it may take a decade before life-coaching courses become a hit among the Chinese.
“People only go for psychological consultation when they have urgent needs or problems. It’s therefore more difficult to get people to pay for life-coaching, which is preventive rather than remedial, and reveal their lives to others,” she added.