A life coaching organization embroiled in controversy and labeled a cult by critics.

Lighthouse, also known as Lighthouse International Group, is a British organization that has generated significant controversy over its operations and methodologies. Founded in 2012 by Paul Waugh, Lighthouse presents itself as a life coaching and business organization. However, it has been reported by numerous experts and through media investigations to function as a cult. In March 2023, Lighthouse International Group’s business operations were wound up by the UK High Court following intervention by the Secretary of State due to concerns over lack of cooperation with authorities and deliberate obstruction by its leaders. The Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service specifically named Waugh, Christopher Nash, Shaun Cooper, and Warren Vaughan as the members of the Limited Liability Partnership that was dissolved​​.

An in-depth BBC investigation into the group, which spanned 18 months, uncovered a range of unethical practices. According to the investigation, Lighthouse exploited its coachees financially, collecting hundreds of thousands of pounds through manipulative means. The company’s founder, Paul Waugh, is said to have devised a system of “levels of spiritual development” within the organization, with Waugh himself being the only person at the highest level. This system purportedly worked to separate coachees from their loved ones, who were often seen as obstacles to their spiritual progression. The group encouraged members to make ever-larger financial donations, which led to significant concern and distress among the family members and partners of those involved​​.

Lighthouse has vehemently denied the accusations of being a cult, framing the claims as defamatory and attributing them to a vendetta by “toxic” family members. Despite these denials, the revelations from the BBC’s series “A Very British Cult” have been explosive, detailing the organization’s methods and the impact on its members and their families. The series, along with a podcast of the same name, has brought to light the dark side of what was supposed to be a life coaching company​​.

This situation highlights the broader issue of regulation within the life coaching industry in the UK, which, as of the time of the investigation, remains unregulated. With estimates suggesting that there are between 80,000 to 100,000 people working within the field, the Lighthouse case underscores the potential risks and the urgent need for oversight and standards within the industry to protect those seeking personal development and coaching services​​.

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