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How To Find the Right Coaching School for You

How To Find the Right Coaching School for You

With so many coaching courses available, how do you find the right life coaching school for you?

We’ve written elsewhere on what to look for in a coaching course and so we won’t cover that ground again.

I’ll take for granted that you know what to look for or that you’ll read the above post to find out.

Here, instead, we’ll explore how to find the right course.

Of course, the very fact you’re reading this shows you’re already making progress with your search and that you’ve found at least one coaching school and are reading its blog posts!

Nice work! You’re on your way. 

In this post, then, I’ll share some methodologies to enhance your search for the right coaching course and also some questions you could ask yourself and/or the training provider.

Asking Around, With a Caveat!

Becoming a coach isn’t like going to a restaurant.

Ask any friend or colleague what restaurants they would recommend and they’re likely to have an opinion. 

Almost all of us go to restaurants and usually we have gone to several different ones, allowing us to evaluate them.

However, ask your friends or colleagues where they recommend you train as a coach and you’re less likely to get a useful answer! 

Most will have no idea.

Unlike eating out, coach training is not something that most people do and so it can be hard to get recommendations.  

Equally, those who have trained as a coach will usually only undertake one initial coaching course (as opposed to ongoing CPD) and so will typically be strong advocates for their course since it’s all they know.

That’s a little like asking someone who’s only ever eaten in one restaurant which restaurant they would recommend!

All that said, it can certainly be useful to ask people who are coaches where they trained and what they liked about the course.

To make this more helpful, ask specific questions.

  • What were the groups like? How big? 
  • What did you learn?
  • What was the experience like? 
  • What support did you get to qualify?
  • Did it match what they “sold” and if not, in what way?
  • What were the other participants like?

And so on.  

The more you can drill into detail, the more useful a referral like this will be for you.

But, take any evangelisation with a pinch of salt.  I often hear of Animas coaches who say that Animas is the best and you should definitely train with us but, in reality, they haven’t tried another coaching school.  So, as lovely as that is to hear, it is only part of the full picture.

Get Googling and Get the Bigger Picture

One of the key steps is to get a feel for the overall marketplace of coach training providers and there’s no better way to do that than Google!

Even if you did get some referrals, don’t miss this step out since it will give you more options.

However, and this is an important point, don’t just stick to page one of the search results.

Google is not assessing the quality of courses when it decides what to put on page one of its search.

Google is not assessing the quality of courses when it decides what to put on page one of its search.

Instead, it is basing it on a company’s success in achieving something called search engine optimisation – a complex art of website promotion.

In other words, just because a company is first in Google, doesn’t mean it provides the best courses.   

Be sure to scroll down the pages and even do the unthinkable and click on to pages two, three and even beyond (there be dragons!)

Use different search terms too such as “coaching courses”, “accredited coach training” and so on as this will broaden your results.

You’ll soon get a good list of different training organisations to start researching.

Visit Their Websites

Now you have a list of coach training providers, you can start to scan their sites.

Does it look like the site hasn’t seen polish and a duster since the early 2000s? 

  • What’s your gut feeling when you look at their website?
  • Do they look like a company that cares about what it does?
  • Does it make the effort to communicate its ideas?
  • Does it aim to educate and share insights?
  • Does it seem to show that it is engaged in thinking?
  • Is its course structure and content clear?
  • Does it show its prices?

Or does it look static? Treading water? Trotting out the same old stuff unthinkingly?

Does it look like the site hasn’t seen polish and a duster since the early 2000s? 

Does it hide its prices or, worse still, plainly refuse to give the prices without attending an event or booking a call?

These may seem like minor issues but they give us great insight into how that coaching school sees itself, how it treats its training and, even, the values that guide it.

Our own belief is that our website visitors should be able to get ALL the information they need to make a decision. 

Check Reviews, Testimonials and Case Studies

Next up, check the reviews. 

most people will review a training provider on Google

In the coaching field, unlike, say, restaurants which perhaps get reviewed via TripAdvisor, or services that get reviewed on TrustPilot, most people will review a training provider on Google or Facebook.

So, actively check them out on Google. 

Search the training provider’s name and Google will show the business profile with the reviews.

You’ll want to look for a school with a decent number of reviews and, of course, you’ll want them to be good!

That’s not to say that training providers without many reviews are not good.  It may be that they simply don’t ask for reviews.  But it does make your job of assessing them slightly harder.

Next up check for longer form testimonials. These may be videos or written case studies.

I must admit that Animas has never been good with this. We always have a slight feeling that it is using the student to further our own ends which doesn’t feel good.  We have so many great stories to tell but we always have this sense that it is invading someone’s privacy and personal experience by having them rave about us and their journey in a video. I guess we need some coaching on that!

Check for case studies, reviews and testimonials and get a sense of the customer experience.

Read Their Blog Posts

Tick! You’re doing that right now!

But seriously, reading blog posts can be an excellent way to not only learn about the field you’re interested in but to see how that company thinks and communicates about the topic it’s passionate about.

  • What do they write about?
  • What does their focus seem to indicate?
  • Are they putting in an effort or is it content for the sake of content?
  • Are the writing posts that education and explore or self-promote?

Look at the Animas blog and you’ll see two main kinds of content.

The majority of our writing is aimed at people who are considering becoming coaches because we want to support their research and answer their questions.

But another part of our blog is dedicated to fresh thinking where we investigate and explore what’s piquing our curiosity.  This gives a great insight into what we are interested in, what drives and what, ultimately, lies behind Animas.

Visit Their Social Media Pages

You might think that visiting a training provider’s social media pages won’t reveal much, but you’d be surprised!

Visit their LinkedIn page, their Facebook page and their YouTube Channel and see what’s going on.

  • Are they engaged in producing content that shows they’re active in the field? 
  • Are they shaping the profession or simply posting ads of the next dates for their training?
  • Do they show originality and intelligence or is it hype and cliche?
  • Are they engaging with thought leaders in the field?

These things can offer you an indication of what drives them – their values, beliefs, ideas and more.

Spend time getting a feel for each school on these platforms – it’s a little like people watching from a cafe but you don’t even need to buy a cappuccino!

Take Advantage of “Learn More” Opportunities

Most coaching schools will have ways to find out more beyond looking at the website.

Some will offer free events, some will offer calls with a member of the team, others may run webinars, provide a video course or any combination of these.

Dive in! You won’t regret it.

Coach training companies can be surprisingly different from each other with different content, philosophy, vibe, market fit, ideal students and much more.

The best way to see these differences is to try out the methods they offer to find out more.

We provide our “Introduction to Transformative Coaching” not only as an educational piece but as a way to get a feel for the way we engage with people.  We take a very conversational, non-didactic approach to training and this comes across in our free introductory sessions in a way that a video course wouldn’t achieve.

Likewise, we offer consultancy calls which, again, demonstrate our values by being completely non-salesy! Indeed, a few years ago, we made a clear decision to stop even thinking about our course consultants as a “sales team”.  

Their job is as much to question as to encourage.  

Their approach is that if someone “should” join us, based on what they want etc, then we’ll help them overcome whatever challenges and beliefs could be getting in their way. But equally, if someone is not a good fit – perhaps because of their reasons for wanting to be a coach or the kind of coach they want to be – we’ll help them consider what is a better fit for them.

Only by engaging with these opportunities, not just with Animas but other schools, will you really get a feel for who they are and whether they suit you.

Check the Enrolment Process

How a training provider manages the enrolment process may say quite a bit about the course and the school itself.  

Although less common now than it used to be, some coaching schools provide free events that offer huge discounts with time-restricted decision making.  This can create a lot of pressure and lead to poor choices.  

It seems pretty clear that such courses are run more on the basis of creating an emotional purchase than encouraging a considered choice.  Yet you really don’t want to be making a decision to train as a coach on a whim and doing so quickly just to get a big discount.  

And then there are those that offer extremely low-cost courses and allow you to enrol directly online with no conversation with the provider itself.  

You might think this sounds like a good thing. Nice and easy, right?

The problem comes with the quality of the learning and of the learning group.  If a training provider only cares about the proverbial “bums on seats”, how can it ensure the integrity of the learning group – the motivation of students to be there, their commitment to take part, the psychological safety and coherence of the group and so on?

That’s not a problem in a course with no direct interaction with other students but , then again, such a course is unlikely to be the kind of course that teaches coaching skills.

A good quality coaching school should not be a free-for-all but rather will care about who is joining and why.

At Animas, we have a policy that guides our approach which we call “right person, right reason, right time, right price”.

That’s why to enrol with Animas, everyone, without exception, goes through a consultation process with one of our coach consultants.  

everyone, without exception, goes through a consultation process with one of our coach consultants.  

This is categorically not a sales call. It is our way of ensuring that we are mutually a good fit, that their reason for joining us is sound and aligns with our values, that the timing is right for them and not going to put them under undue stress, and that they can afford the course – which we never negotiate on.

This has become a key part of the Animas philosophy and ensures a high-quality, committed learning environment for all and it makes a huge difference to the experience of our students.

So, check out how each companies enrols their students.

Are they transparent about their price.  Is it fixed or does it seem more like a negotiation? How do they assess fit?

Gut Feel, Logic and Situational Factors

At some point, you have to make a decision.

Who are you going to train with?

We find that in most instances, this is a gut feeling thing.

People just know which is the right training provider for them.

The basics may stack up for a few different courses: they can afford them, the dates work, the delivery methods work, the accreditations are similar.

And yet…

There’s something about one particular school that just “feels right”.

Maybe it was the way they emailed you, or spoke to you.

Maybe it was something on the website, or something that was said at the introductory event.

Maybe you can’t even pinpoint where that feeling is coming from.

Whatever it is, we’d encourage you to pay attention to that feeling.

Our main aim is that you make the right decision for yourself.  We’ve had people say, “Everything about Animas is right but there’s just something about xyz provider, and I just have to go with them!” And we love that.  They’re following their intuition.

And, of course, it happens the other way too: “There’s just something about Animas that I love so I’m going to join you!”

It is rarely pure logic. 

Not many Mr Spocks join us and, indeed, not many become coaches in general.  

Of course, a training programme has to stack up logically.  

There’s no point doing a course that won’t provide the outcome that is needed, but within the coaching field, it’s rarely an issue of the wrong course content that sways a decision.

That said, there can be times when your own situation makes the decision for you.

Perhaps you need to start the course at a certain time due to work, holidays, or travel and the course you really want doesn’t quite fit.  Darn! It happens.

Maybe, you really want to do an in-person course but there isn’t one in your location and so a virtual course is a necessity.

These things happen.

My advice would be, don’t sweat the small stuff.  Perhaps you won’t join your numero uno school but I bet you’ll find the other provider turns out to be an excellent choice in any case.

My advice would be, don’t sweat the small stuff. 

What matters most is your attitude to the choice you make.

Wrapping Up

I said at the start that I wouldn’t cover what to look for in a coaching course as we covered it in the blog post on what to look for in a coaching course.

However, I do really want to encourage you to read that post.  It is one thing to know how to look for courses and how to get a feel for them (which is what this post has been about) but it is another thing to ensure that the course itself gives you what you need.

In the above post we cover the essential areas of:

  • Accreditation 
  • Quality content
  • Real life coaching practice
  • Supervision 
  • Mentoring
  • Meaningful assessment
  • Realistic duration to gain skills

We also cover some preferences such as:

  • The focus of the coaching course
  • Delivery method
  • Cost
  • Faculty
  • Community
  • Business support

So do check out that post to get a full understanding of what to look for.

To wrap this post up though, I hope you have a better idea of how to find the courses in the first place and how to investigate them further.

If you want to become a coach then the course you undertake will be a critical first step of your journey.  Indeed, a great experience can propel your coaching career whilst a poor experience can stop it in its tracks as you lose motivation and interest.

a great experience can propel your coaching career whilst a poor experience can stop it in its tracks

So do take the time to explore your options.

Attend the free events, book calls with the providers, read their websites thoroughly, check reviews, read case studies – in a word (or two!), immerse yourself.

We are always delighted to discuss the journey to become a coach and, of course, you can attend our free Introduction to Transformative Coaching. We’d love to see you there.

Author Details
Nick is the founder and CEO of Animas Centre for Coaching and the International Centre for Coaching Supervision. Nick is an existentially oriented coach and supervisor with a passion for the ideas, principles and philosophy that sits behind coaching.

Nick Bolton

Nick Bolton Animas

Nick is the founder and CEO of Animas Centre for Coaching and the International Centre for Coaching Supervision. Nick is an existentially oriented coach and supervisor with a passion for the ideas, principles and philosophy that sits behind coaching.

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