Inside the life coaching cult that takes over lives

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Lighthouse promises life coaching to help people realise their dreams. But an 18-month investigation by the BBC finds it takes over people’s lives, separates people from their loved ones and harasses its critics.

Jeff Leigh-Jones had only been part of Lighthouse for a few months when his girlfriend Dawn noticed something strange was going on. Jeff no longer seemed himself.

Jeff had joined the pioneering life coaching and mentoring group to help him find more direction. He had been planning a solo hike to the South Pole, and thought a coach could help him get more disciplined.

But then Jeff began spending all day on secretive phone calls and avoiding friends and family – he even sold his house to invest more money in the group.

One day, Dawn overheard one of Jeff’s many supposedly motivational daily calls. It wasn’t about the South Pole at all – it was about her. Jeff was told he needed to choose between Lighthouse and his family.

In November 2021, Dawn contacted the BBC. “We’ve had private investigator reports into Lighthouse,” she says. But “you can only ever go so far”. She was nervous. Lighthouse isn’t an ordinary life coaching organisation, Dawn explained. “It’s a cult.”

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