Coaching Scam

Overcoming Coaching Scams

Coaching Scam

I’ve been pondering this convo for a while and the more I sit with it, the more now feels like the right time to open up about this

For those that have been following me for a while now, you’ll know that in 2020 I had made some big (okay, huge) financial decisions to jump into a *very* high ticket Mastermind Experience with “they who shall not be named on the backend of a few momentous months riding heaps of energetic highs (as well as pregnancy hormones)

But let’s back track a bit first….

I had initially gotten involved in the cult•ure in January 2020 after navigating some big waves of pregnancy depression seeking a safe space to feel empowered, connected and open myself to new extraordinary possibilities

This community felt like the place

The energy, the allure, the hype, the momentum, the magnitude, the mystery

It was incredibly seducing.

Speaking so much to the most vulnerable parts of myself with promises of power, limitlessness, infinite possibilities, quantum wealth, complete ease, freedom, luxury, confidence, all the things I felt were so out of reach

It provided a massive community and connection to hundreds of other woman all sharing the same dream of making millions as divine feminine beings living their best lives, flaunting wealth and luxury.

We were constantly being bombarded with images of  “living the dream”, celebration after celebration of money coming in, screenshots of bank statements and long poetic posts all centered around the idea that “You can have this too”

Woman after woman choosing to invest ungodly amounts to access closer and closer proximity, glorifying the process, singing praises of how they too have now cultivated million dollar brands after integrating so much of the same belief systems and business models that were being taught.

It was an unspoken belief that all we had to do was continue investing in larger and larger amounts, to work 1:1 at the highest levels was almost a guarantee that we then to would have earned the right to have a million dollar brand

And All we had to do, was become an energetic match to it

Slowly I found myself pulled in further and further unconsciously perpetuating the same model, beliefs and philosophies being taught to me, to my own audience

And it “worked”

Until it didn’t.

I could feel the knots in my stomach when repeating phrases that were used to make me leap

Comments like 

“You go first”

“The more you invest in you the more you can charge other people”

“It’s just about being in my energy that will make all the difference”

“Just declare it and its already done”

“You just have to believe that it’s true, you’re not believing hard enough”

“You just have to heal your relationship to money”

“Just embody the feminine and receive”

The unspoken pressure of jumping before you feel ready, doing the “big scary” thing

So I made the “leap” with a sure shot guarantee of it being possible for me if I just stick with it

Unbeknownst to me,

Began the process of completely blowing out my entire nervous system

At first, The experience felt invigorating

Me ego Felt powerful

like I was trying to prove to myself and to everyone watching “that if I can do it, so should you”

It didn’t take long for so many people in my own world to begin noticing the massive energy shift in me and start getting curious, the energy, the vibe it was contagious.

But the experience quickly became toxic

It was not all rainbows in butterflies behind closed doors

A segregation took place inside the high level mastermind, a feeling of “othering” between different women inside the container

A feeling of being “tolerated” and not actually belonging

Conversations behind scenes with those I felt most connected to validated all that I was experiencing 

A mass exodus took place that summer;

Woman after woman reflecting their dismay and discomfort of something being off, something feeling not quite right in the space

Their abrupt leaving was the very fire I needed to go deeper within me

(This of course, was rationalized by the community leader as raising their vibe to a higher frequency and none of these people being a match for them anymore)

Their final words to me in a moment of deep vulnerability  “you’re either all in or you’re all out. I have a waiting list”

Imprinted such deep seeded feelings of betrayal, feeling like a number, completely dismissed, unvalued, completely replaceable, like I didn’t belong

So I left.

My saving grace was the intensity of birthing my son, Cassius Phoenix Rhyson, an experience that literally and metaphorically cut so deep into me my entire being fell into complete chaos

There’s a full blog linked here if you’d like to understand the true cataclysmic nature of that experience.

Cassius being born FORCED me to slow down. To stop. To be in complete surrender and actually take the time to analyze, contemplate and reflect on WHY I was making the decisions I was making

Over a year later, I’ve come to terms with the root of my anger about this experience

That could only truly be understood after MONTHS of both practicing, studying and experiencing deep trauma work

I’ve Come to understand so much of the initial “pull” to be in and a part of this community and how deeply isolating it felt to leave

So much of my anger and frustration had been wrapped in me not feeling like I could trust myself anymore, feeling ashamed, stupid, deserving of being so ignorant to have fallen for such a charismatic experience

For having been so easily “seduced”

And the backlash you receive when so many of their loyal fans dismiss your experience and invalidate your feelings

Gas lighting you in your vulnerability and weakness

“You should have known better”

“They didn’t do that to me, so they can’t be that bad.”

“That’s not my experience of them, so that can’t possibly be true.”

“You’re just playing the victim”

“Just be grateful you got the lessons you needed”

As if somehow all the other “good” they do in the world is enough to completely dismiss any harm they may have caused.

Unwilling to take any responsibility

Spitting narratives of a survivor feeding into “victim” mentality

Gaslighting the entire experience

Narratives of “what’s this reflecting thats in you?”

“You attracted this experience”

“You just don’t want it bad enough”

“You’re limiting yourself”

“You just have more mindset blocks and money beliefs you need to heal”

Completely bypassing the real HURT and trauma of that individuals very REAL and very VALID lived experience.

I wondered why I felt such deep resonance with the BLM movement

Why it felt like this was a system that wasn’t set up for someone like me to “win”

Why it felt like I was so much further behind than some of the other woman

Why I searched for months for a safe space to unpack all of the anger, rage, hurt, shame, guilt and confusion I was feeling

Why it felt like the life had been sucked out of me

Like I no longer knew myself or could trust what I was feeling

My system went into a complete collapse

A “functional freeze” where so much of the world felt overwhelming

I could NOT just “push through”

I could NOT just “keep going”

I could NOT just simple “Think a better feeling thought”

I could NOT just change how I was feeling

My body would not allow it.

It simply, did not have the capacity to do so.

And the ignorance of the person I once so deeply trusted resulted in agonizing fragmentation to my entire nervous system

If you are going to take responsibility to celebrate the wins, glory, fame and fortune of those you “serve” You must ALSO be willing to take responsibility for the HARM you’ve unconsciously caused along the way.

THAT is what I’ve come to terms with.

But it’s not what I see unfolding in the industry.

You see, had my nervous system had the capacity to “keep going” and to just “push through” I have no doubt I’d be sitting on top of a multi million dollar brand right now with a business model very similar to that of which I had been indoctrinated into





I would have continued to abandon myself, my values, my principles

All for the glory and luxury of what this business would have brought me

I would have written everything else off as okay, because look at all the money, success and wealth i’ve made.

I would have continued to sacrifice my sanity, health and well being believing that I could just continue to expand and expand without ever taking the space to contract or go inward and unpack the growing dissonance I was feeling

I would have kept ignoring that lingering nudge of discomfort in my gut that something just felt off continuing to dismiss it as “fear” instead of realizing how much of it was my moral compass and gut screaming at me to stop and listen

Had I not experienced life the way I did, with all the loss, grief, pain, hurt, agony and dismantling of my entire reality, I very much so would have just kept going

Which is why today, I can finally breathe in deep relief and true gratitude for the unfolding of my experience.

As I’ve spent the last year deepening into Diversity Equity and Inclusion work with Trudi Lebron and her team, Studying and training as a somatic Experiencing Practitioner to work intimately with the nuances of trauma in the nervous system, and reworking the entirety of my brand and business

I can now see all the discrepancies I was blind to previously

This is not a story of shame, though if that is felt I’d invite deeper exploration to that space

This is a story of coming back to center

Of getting BACK into integrity with the core of who I be.

Of re-establishing a relationship with my body and doing the work to both heal, nurture and regulate my nervous system to slowly begin expanding my capacity to open and receive

The reality is, my business is not making nearly as much as it could be had I decided to keep running models of launching mini program after mini program month after month filling up limitless numbers of participants on Facebook lives

Yes, it could easily and very quickly blast me to a multi million dollar brand

But that simply does not align with my core values of MASTERY, SUSTAINABILITY, EQUITY, JUSTICE, and IMPACT

Nor does it support the capacity and organic nature of my natural rhythm within my nervous system to constantly be going at hyper-speed

The reality is, my heart, my soul, my “whoever is looking out for me up there” KNEW that this wasn’t it for me

So now let’s illuminate WHY stepping down from this million dollar opportunity was such a blessing in disguise….

That type of 1 to many model simply does not allow the support needed to truly work with each individual on a deep level tracking their nervous systems and ensuring they are moving at a pace that is safe for them

The nuances of which to be able to track requires real training and understanding of the soma (body) and respecting the boundaries of each individual nervous system.

Also noting that each persons innate responses to navigating experiences is inherently intelligent and to disregard it as otherwise can create further fragmentation and disassociation as we develop characters of who we think we need to be instead of honoring all of ourselves in the process.

IF A SYSTEM OR MODEL DOES NOT WORK FOR YOU, IT DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE THE ONE THAT’S INHERENTLY BROKEN; It’s often more true that there is a mis-attunement between the system, modality or method being used and what your unique nervous system is needing in that specific part of your process. Aka it’s not just you, it’s also the system.

When you’re on a Facebook live with a massive group of people watching, commenting and engaging for a short period of time speaking to 100’s if not 1000’s of woman all at once

Sure, the energy is palpable, the vibe is intense, the experience is intoxicating, enlivening, surrounded by 100’s if not 1000’s of others sharing that experience with you

But without much back and forth interaction and going deep into beliefs work its not only dangerous, but completely irresponsible.

What happens when someone experiences a deep somatic activation that leaves them completely unraveled with no safe space of *trained* practitioners that can hold them in their tenderness?

What happens when someones nervous system is NOT attuned nor equipped with the capacity to take on that much growth, money, clients or “success” and blasts them into a complex functional freeze oscillating between a dissociative fight response and feeling numbed out constantly needing to chase the next big high to feel any sense of aliveness

The reality is, the efficiency of this model DOES NOT EQUATE TO SAFETY OR EQUITY

Yes it is efficient for the business owner

Yes it is incredibly profitable for the business owner

Yes it is easily scalable for the business owner

But is it equitable for the clients it supporting?

Is it truly safe for all the different nervous systems coming into the space?

Is it truly what’s in the BEST INTEREST of the clients it’s intended for?

These were the questions I began asking myself

Though there are undoubtedly circumstances and events in which this type of model might be appropriate given certain context and incorporated systems of support, it’s important that we also recognize the other major red flag in this ideology and model….


God how we glorify the quick fix, the need to just get there as fast as possible, the willingness to do and spend whatever it takes, however much it costs to speed up time and skip to the front of the line.

It’s why we see so much jazz around investing heavily in marketing, sales, branding, design and so little focus around skill development, ethical practices, creating safe spaces and at the bare minimum, being trauma informed.

NOTE: TRAUMA INFORMED ALSO DOES NOT QUALIFY YOU TO WORK DIRECTLY ON SOMEONES TRAUMA. (which we all have, b/c hello, we are humans with nervous systems)

It’s exciting to think about creating cash flow as fast as possible, even to the point we’re willing to compromise client experiences because of our lack of real training or our impatience to take the time needed to truly develop a skillset.

YES your lived experience having overcome and moved through intense situations and overcoming circumstances is incredibly valid and real

AND it does not necessarily qualify you to be able to support others in doing the same ESPECIALLY IF you’ve never had proper training in HOW to do so.

My experience with this container and how the lack of being trauma informed by the practitioner in charge was a massive wake up call for me

After spending countless hours studying, practicing and training under practitioners who have been working with trauma for over 30 YEARS I can immediately feel the difference in how my body responds to the felt sense experience of safety and attunement to my versus someone who is only trauma informed.

There’s a different level of depth, trust, compassion, holding, safety, capacity, awareness and the ability to be truly seen and met that you can FEEL knowing they are able and willing to meet you at your own natural pace, however slow that may need to be.

When we so willingly take on anyone and everyone and blatantly give permission without any real checks or balances of who is truly TRAINED and EQUIPPED to do this work,


These individuals often end up creating much more harm and perpetuating the problem.

How do I know? Because at one point, I was one of them. On BOTH sides of the spectrum both the perpetuator AND the experiencer.

Now let’s be VERY CLEAR about a few things….

YES you can and you should 100% build a business and brand you love, doing work you love, supporting people you love.

YES you absolutely can and SHOULD create financial freedom for yourself, your family, your legacy


Be sure you are actually in integrity with what you’re promising

That you actually have the capacity, skillset and mastery required to deliver such bold promises

That you’re not just using lingo to “magnetize” people into your world without first developing the proper containers, infrastructure and support necessary to deliver on said promises

If you find this conversation at all confronting, I invite you to explore that in a safe space

The reality is, if you’re in the business of transformation, embodiment, empowerment, healing, mindset or any other form of coaching that involves working with other human beings through vulnerable belief systems, emotions and potential trauma

YOU NEED TO HAVE A CERTAIN LEVEL OF TRAINING, EXPERIENCE, and MASTERY to really deliver a safe experience and create truly empowering results for those you support.

What that training and experience looks like should be determined by you and your own moral compass for integrity.

But what I will say is this…

It CANNOT and SHOULD NOT be just about making as much money as possible as fast as possible by charging the highest ticket possible and taking on as many clients possible.

(if it’s simply that you desire to make as much money as possible as fast as possible- by all means you do you boo, annnnddd…. please open yourself to exploring other opportunities to create profit that don’t involve working intimately with someone’s psyche, nervous system or emotions; like stocks, day trading or investing)

This is why at this point, I simply REFUSE to take on any clients who have not undergone some form of extensive training in a specific skillset and have niched down into an area of mastery

When i take on a client and support them in scaling their work, I become responsible for the impact they are having whether that be good or harm.

It’s also why I’ve become extremely selective about the clients I DO take on and the AMOUNT of clients I work with at any given time.

To do otherwise Is not only irresponsible, it’s UNETHICAL.

Not because anyone is intentionally causing harm

  👏 👏 

The participation in this model is the perpetuation of the exact systems of oppression that inflict deeper and deeper harm to all those involved.

Here’s how….

We buy into the idea of pay to play

(Now I have no issue with high ticket investments, but here’s what I DO have an issue with)

We feel this inherent pull to HAVE to hire someone, regardless of the ticket and without any inclination of whether or not WE are a good fit for them let alone if THEY are actually a fit for us.

We hire on VANITY


In association

So we take out loans, ask to borrow money, and put ourselves into a huge financial commitment with no real plan of HOW we’ll actually be able to pay it off

The RUSH of having to make something work

The DO OR DIE sensation that comes with it

the often subtle and quiet, small patterns of self-abandonment and self betrayal as we dismiss our own values, beliefs and principles we once held so dear to take on new ones that allow us to do what needs to be done.

(side note, this often makes me think of what happens with soldiers who learn how to compartmentalize and disassociate from what their natural inclinations are in order to “do the job” they find a reason that somehow makes it okay to do unspeakable things)

We TIE ourselves to having to make the money to pay for our own personal investments, needing to meet larger and larger expenses

(as self preserving beings we often do whatever it takes to first protect ourselves and our immediate tribe by justifying the means to our own personal gain even if it requires stepping on others)

So we begin marketing and selling not from a place of true compassion, but often with the undertone of needing to create as much money as possible to keep the game going.

In these scenarios, we often justify unethical practices as “empowering” people to “Rise to the occasion” and trusting that they will get whatever lessons they need.

Telling stories of how our trauma and pain makes us stronger, how we’re so “brave” so “strong” so “powerful” to have been willing to do such things

That anyone who doesn’t agree or challenges our beliefs and methods “just doesn’t get it” they’re “limited” by their own beliefs, blocked by their “moral compass and need to be in integrity”

I digress.

From a nervous system perspective, we’re in high arousal and find ourselves in a space of grasping almost chasing to make something happen often disguised as “feminine embodiment”

Crying, breaking down, moving through huge emotional waves behind camera while showing up online glorifying this process.


Being in constant highs and lows of emotional waves is not a sign of a healthy or regulated nervous system. In fact, it’s often quite the opposite.

We feel on top of the world when the payments come in, and the minute we decide to make our own payments or invest at a higher and higher level to take that next scary leap, the scarcity and fear kicks in and our stomachs begin to twist.

The more we accumulate in our own monthly expenses to maintain the status quo or continue to climber higher up the hierarchal ladder of power, the bigger our cost of business becomes to run and maintain

Forcing us to have to keep taking on more and more clients and have higher and higher pricing so we can keep up with the rest of the industry]

(here is becomes the cornerstone of self abandonment, fragmentation, disassociation, justification, and obligation)

It’s such a vicious cycle fueled with patterns of codependency and tricky entanglements of energy.

For contrast purposes, what we are truly looking for as signs of a healthy, regulated nervous system often looks quite the contrary to the “sexy” hype of that audacious busy buzzing fanatic abrasive energy of constantly going, expanding and leaping that can be so appealing

So much of what we glamorize and idolize in western culture are dysregulated nervous systems on overdrive and wonder why we feel so inadequate in the constant quest to need to be always doing more more more.

So yes, for all the reasons above….

I left.

I let go of a multi million dollar business opportunity

Completely separated myself from the entire community

And through this process,

I’ve reclaimed so much more of my core

And found,

What I TRULY value and stand for.

And in the spirit of radical transparency….

This is NOT easy or effortless work. In fact, it’s much easier to keep playing the same game the same way and perpetuating the exact models we’ve already discussed.

It IS effortless to just show up on lives, talk about your amazing life, and sell program after program, offer after offer, talking about expanding, quantum leaping, at tapping into bigger opportunities

To take absolutely no responsibility for the results or experience of your clients and dismiss any of their feelings as playing the victim

To equate anyone not aligning with you as simply not being an energetic match to your frequency instead of actually unpacking what they’re bringing to the table

It’s easy to play that game, but it’s definitely not as fulfilling, nourishing or healing, at least no in my own personal experience.

Because when the lights turn off, and the cameras disappear, it’s not just about the glamour glory and luxury of how much money you’ve made in one day, one week, one month or one year, it’s about the compounding impact of HOW what you are doing is having on the entire community.

So if you’ve been in a space of contemplation lately, feeling disconnected, uncertain or having lost faith in the industry…

This is truly for you.

To give you hope, to acknowledge where you are, to validate your experience and remind you that you are not alone in it.

To share that there are other ways, that you can truly have a fulfilling, thriving, successful HEALING, nourishing and sustainable business that’s CENTERED on your core values and built on principles of equity, justice and inclusion.

The first step is just recognizing that THAT is what you are wanting.

Then filling your world with the people, communities and brands that empower more of these truly value driven beliefs.

And that, is what I’m here to bring as we continue to build The Sacred CEO™ brand as an intersection of trauma, business and DEI work for entrepreneurs.

Though 2021 may not have been a million dollar year, or a million dollar brand, i can rest in deep peace KNOWING i am living in integrity with my core values and experiencing my life in a way that feels deeply fulfilling and honorary to my unique needs as I continue embarking on my healing journey.

Final comments:

I am well aware there are still many people in my world who are friends of friends and recognize that a lot of what I share here might be confronting or conflicting especially if it speaks to facets of your current business model or belief system

It’s important to note, I am NOT here to convince anyone to believe what I believe, to think what I think or to see things the way I see them.

I am simply sharing my experience, my story, my perspective for those that may also be in the dark feeling similarly.

I have no interest in “taking down” names or brands, nor do I care to bash, threaten or fight against anyone on opposing ends.

I solely desire to shine a light on some of the shadows I’ve personally experienced that linger underneath the shiny-ness of these models.

Take what lands for you, leave what doesn’t. 

If you’re curious to see how I’ll continue to adapt, integrate and build these values, learnings and lessons into my brand, watch this space.

We’ve been working hard behind scenes mapping out and building for a beautiful year of growth and IMPACT come 2022

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I'm Sophie Kessner
Coaching Scam

First generation Mexican American mama that’s gone from hood to strategic hustle. I’ve spent the last 10+ years inside the personal development space supporting 100’s of coaches in scaling 6 figure businesses online & supported 4 different companies in surpassing the 7 figure mark. Today, I focus on making scaling more sustainable by integrating the lenses of business, systems, automation and CEO Development through an Equity centered and Trauma informed lens.

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Sophie is the founder of The Sacred CEO™ Agency and has been in the service based coaching industry since 2015. She’s created and scaled 4 different multi 6 figure coaching programs including their latest course, The Online Business Automator.

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