What makes Animas different?

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19th September 2019

Author: Nick Bolton

So you’re looking at Animas as a place to undertake training as a coach. With several coaching schools out there, you are might ask the question: “What makes Animas different?”

It’s a great question to ask but it can be tricky for us to answer because we are Animas and we can’t pretend to know what it’s like to be part of another coaching school – their culture, their trainers, even what they teach. Often the difference is the feeling you get when you’re with us, that sense of knowing you’re in the right place.

That said, we believe we stand out from the rest in a number of important ways and here’s where we think the difference lies:


Coaching has moved a long way since the early days of simple goal-setting and planning as best represented by models such as GROW and the performance coaching approach. Coaching offers a transformational space for people to explore how they respond to the challenges, complexity, choice and speed of the 21st Century.

Sometimes, clients do indeed come to coaching simply to gain focus and clarity in order to takes steps towards their goal. In these instances, models like GROW and OSKAR are ideal for supporting this. More often, though, people come to coaching confused, stuck and feeling a little lost. they don’t need therapy but they do need to go deeper than simply focusing on steps and goals. At such times, performance coaching can be counter-productive, risking reinforcing a sense of inadequacy. The journey needed here is one of uncovering, discovery and exploration for greater self-awareness and the emergence of chance. This is the fertile ground of transformational coaching.

We believe that Animas is the only school to fully explore, develop and teach the transformational approach. Our aim is to develop coaches who are able to work across the coaching spectrum, from performance to transformational coaching, depending on what’s needed by the client. Life today is complex and the demands on coaches have moved far past the basics of goal-setting and accountability. We recognise this and have created a programme to meet this head on.


For many coaching schools, the focus of coaching becomes their model – a single approach to coaching in which the model dictates the coaching far more than the human relationship does. The best-known example of this, of course, is the classic GROW model. But there are many others.

These models can be very useful and we ourselves teach them. But (and it’s a big but!) we believe that coaching is first and foremost a collaborative conversation. It’s a very particular kind of conversation, to be sure, but it’s a conversation not a process that a model can dictate. A key difference between us and many coaching schools is that we deliver an integrative framework for coaching that draws from a range of influential schools of psychology and philosophy whilst encouraging you to discover ideas and practices you can integrate in to the coaching conversation.

The analogy we like to use to explain this is that of the optician who drops their lens frame onto your nose and then drops in different lenses, asking you, “is that clearer or less clear?” We aim to offer that same ability to take different lenses and integrate them in your practice so that you have the greatest range and flexibility for helping clients gain clarity.

Often called integrative or pluralistic, this approach is the one we believe creates coaches fit for the challenges faced in the early 21st century.


Related to the integrative approach is our belief that the best coach is the person who is truly themselves whilst authentically inhabiting and practising the coaching principles.

Our aspiration for you as a coach is not to become a predefined thing in which you demonstrate a particular model or style that we dictate is coaching. We want to see YOU as a coach. You are unique and you as a coach should be unique.

When our founder, Nick Bolton, originally qualified as a coach, he remembers vividly being told that if he did not complete a full GROW model process with the client, he would not qualify. It wouldn’t have mattered what the client needed or how Nick best coached – it was the GROW model that was the star! For us this is back to front. The client must come first and you as a coach must respond to the client and from a place of being YOU living out the principles of coaching not the models of coaching.

There is a saying in coaching which we love but which most coaching schools seem to ignore. It’s this: “Who you are is how you coach”.

Our aim is to help you become the best coach only you can be.


We are obsessed by providing ways in which our students and qualified coaches can continue to grow and be supported. During the course itself, your coach training course includes one-to-one support from a personal coach-mentor, group supervision calls, observed practice and a range of online and offline spaces where our coaches can share their challenges or celebrate their successes.

Moving beyond the qualification phase, we ensure that every coach can benefit from lifetime supervision meaning that you know you always have a space to bring your challenges.

Unlike some schools in which time-limited membership means you lose access to materials after a certain time, once you join Animas you have lifetime access to the materials, online forum, on and offline community events and much more. We often joke that when you join Animas, you never leave!

We also have a vibrant community who connect online and in-person at our coaching events, social meet-ups, and coaching circles. We welcome you when you join as a student, and people stay throughout their professional life as a coach for the network and support of likeminded coaches.


Quite frankly, it always amazes us how some coaching schools teach the same things in the same way seemingly forever with no change.

Coaching is an ever-evolving field constantly influenced by the demands of society and the individuals within it, and constantly shaped and formed by our emerging understanding (predominantly through coaching psychology) of how and why coaching works.

As a school, we are always alive to what needs to change and improve in our work to respond to the needs of our customers, the profession and potential clients – personal and organisational. Clearly, we don’t simply change with the wind but rather we tune in and talk about what’s happening, who’s writing what and how does it impacts coaching, what are customers saying and what does the profession see ahead. We then adapt our content in subtle and not so subtle ways. We rejig how we deliver something or we create learning spaces to meet new needs.

For us, creating the best coaching school bar none means listening, learning, and changing. It’s an ever-evolving, living and breathing space. And we love it!


One of the biggest differences we hear from our students and alumni is that no-one else provides a community quite like we do. That’s always great to hear as we put a lot of work in to it. Indeed, we even have a team member whose role is Alumni Mixologist and who devises creative, fun events to bring our students together.

We think community is vital to learning. It creates a space for ongoing connection from which comes motivation, learning, momentum, shared opportunities, friendships and the rich encounters between coaches from many years apart. From our Annual Summit in which coaches share their business journeys to a simple picnic in the park, and from our Xmas Party Boat down the Thames to our bi-monthly guest talks which are free for our community, there is always an exciting, educational, inspirational event that you can be part of just around the corner.


Most coaching courses are professionally recognised otherwise they would be unlikely to survive. So we can’t claim that recognition is a difference. However, we have deliberately chosen to be accredited by both the International Coach Federation and the Association of Coaching since they are the two largest coaching professional bodies in the world.

The ICF is by far the largest coaching body in the world meaning you know your course will be recognised internationally, and the Association of Coaching is the largest in the UK meaning you have immense credibility with the UK context.


We also hear from our students what they find the difference to be when they research and experience other schools so we’ve listed a few of these too. We can’t vouch for these though as they are clearly subjective and anecdotal and we don’t want to judge other schools for things we don’t know.


Many of our students say they chose us because of our integrity – that we weren’t just about signing up another student, or making the training as easy as possible to deliver with a single model, or pretending that coaching will easily make you a big income! We don’t know what other coaching schools say but we are absolutely committed to sharing the reality of the experience of becoming a coach not just the dream.


Many of our students say we are unbelievably approachable and friendly, that nothing is ever too much and that we’ll always help when we can. That certainly ties in with our value of “People first. Everytime.”


The word depth is metaphorical, of course, so it’s hard for us to say that depth is one of our differences. But we know precisely what our students mean when they say that we are “deeper” than most other coaching schools. It’s not that we set out to be “deep” for the sake of it but rather that we respect and value the reality of what people bring to coaching and what they need from us rather than forcing the client to work only at a more surface level of action-orientation.


An interesting one for us (and one we love!) is how many students say that the community we have created has allowed them to meet, become friends with and even form business partnerships with people they would never otherwise have met. Unlike some courses where you rarely meet someone who’s not in your group, Animas creates the space for you to meet fellow coaches and students from across the years of our existence!


We have heard this a number of times – that Animas feels entrepreneurial and encourages students to consider how they are going to create their coaching practice. We don’t consciously build this in to the course itself but we certainly create structures to think about, plan and take action on creating a coaching practice. We have a separate course on launching your business, a free private online group dedicated to the art of starting and growing a practice, and we encourage conversations and spaces that support coaches to step outside their comfort zone and begin the business building part of their journey.


No doubt there are many more differences, and many which will be personal to how you experience us. We aim to be different not for the sake of difference but rather because we believe the coaching world needs us to be different. Many of the points addressed here are expanded elsewhere in this site and this page is designed to give you an overview. Do dive in to the site if you want to explore further.

Author Details

Nick Bolton

Nick is the founder and CEO of the Animas and International Centre for Coaching Supervision. Along with his love of coaching and supervision, he is a a passionate learner with a fascination for philosophy, psychology and sociology.

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