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How to Choose a Professional Academic Coach ?

This article summarized in visual mode

Vigilance & verification

Main tool: Questioning

A service clearly explained and detailed

Vocational test :

Run Away!

Verify it's training :

  • program
  • Number of hours

Your hear or read "RIASEC" or "MBTI"

Run Away!

Career path linked to a specialization

Having a good "feeling"

This article in textual mode

To get to the point:
First of all, the most important thing when looking for a coach can be summed up in 2 words:
Vigilance and Verification.
And yes, many untrained people are selling coaching. Your baker could become a coach! The profession is not regulated...  It's not enough to know a little more than the average person and have read a book to call yourself a coach overnight. The coach is too often confused with the notion of mentor or teacher. In reality, the coach's role is to support you in solving your problems, relying mainly on your own resources and without influencing you. You need to be trained to do this, but you also need a fine-tuned knowledge of psychology, questioning and human interaction, as well as emotional intelligence.

In this context, and even if this doesn't guarantee anything, if you can't check or control what the coach advertises in terms of training and experience, as well as his or her detailed service offer, be careful!

Before offering a few examples and detailing the checklist to follow before choosing a coach, it's important to explain that you're not just choosing a coach, a profile, experience or training.

You also choose a service!

This coaching service must correspond to the methodology it evokes, the exact terms of which must be detailed for you. You need to be able to identify the inherent problems, if not be alert to a few key indicators. Here are a few examples that should alert you, and don't hesitate to do further research:

- Does the coach use NLP "tools"?

An in-depth study of these tools will show you that they are genuine NLP influence techniques, but also other tools that coaches are trained to use. And a battery of tools is no guarantee of having the right one to solve the problem. I invite you to do some research in this area...

- Does the coach explain his services redundantly and without any details?

Explaining one's services by asserting truths without justifying them, but using the technique of repetition to give them weight and assurance in order to make up for the relevance of the words is a well-known marketing technique. Form takes precedence over substance, which takes a back seat.

- Doesn't the coach have a background in psychology?

This point is debatable, and I'm presenting my personal viewpoint here. I'll confine myself to highlighting just one problem, that of the proposed questioning. How does he elaborate his questioning? Does he master the influence inherent in certain ways of asking questions? Does he know the different types of questions and their specificities and effects?

- Does the coach only propose exercises?

Where do they come from? Do you feel like you're taking a test? Are they MCQs about your expectations at work? How were they developed? Can he tell you about them, defend them and justify their relevance and interest? Are his explanations convincing?

- Are you mentioned or offered an orientation test as part of a career choice or orientation coaching?

GO AWAY! Or maybe it was clear that this wasn't coaching... In the context of career choice, a test is the opposite of what you're looking for. If the coach or organization offers you one, it's because they haven't understood what a test is and why they shouldn't use them in the first place, which is really not a good sign, and that they've understood even less that in career coaching, it's vital to encourage reflection, a personalized approach, etc.

At this stage, if you're feeling a little lost at the mention of these four elements, it's urgent for you to acquire more knowledge on these notions and for a first quick approach, I invite you to do your personal research on each of these points, but also perhaps first, to read my article on choosing a guidance method as well as my pamphlet on guidance methods: "Guidance today or the art of not getting it wrong".

Let's move on to a few examples, to make this presentation more lively and concrete.

Hold on, a little further on I'll show you a video of a sketch by a very lucid humorist about coaches...

I should point out that the examples given below are the result of my own checks on coach websites during my browsing. As for the example of plagiarism to which I refer, you'll find an article on the subject in the blog.

An example of what a check can reveal: You'll find coaches who mention starting their business in 2008, whereas their Siret dates from 2014 and their domain name ( was also bought in 2014... It's disturbing, even if they may have changed their status, website name or created it later, as is my case, it's a good idea to ask for a copy of the diploma or certification from the training school. In my case, my DESU diploma in coaching can be consulted on my website in the "profile" section.

Others present themselves as belonging to a coaching association of which they are not a member...
If you dig a little deeper, you may find that they have completed 50 hours of coaching training, which is of course deemed insufficient by most serious coaching associations, and by any parent with even the slightest bit of common sense... This was quickly confirmed by a quick look at the coaching directory of the aforementioned association.

And I'm not going to dwell on the services, networks, institutes and companies which, in order to appear attractive and unmissable, suggest that their network of coaches is established in every major city in France, or even that it's a European network, and that they've worked long and hard on their content with all their teams of specialists to try and assert a certain seriousness. And when you look at the details, it's an orientation test... which is a "red flag" indicator.

Choosing a GOOD coach is at least choosing a REAL professional coach!

As the profession is not regulated, unfortunately today anyone can call themselves a coach, as I mentioned in my introduction.

Here is a humorist who has better understood and defined the problem than many journalists even specialized, I invite you to laugh if you understand French or if youtube adds subtitles in English:

If you want to choose a REAL coach, the only solution is to do your homework thoroughly and rigorously.

Here's the first phase of the "check list" for choosing a coach:

  • Check the coach's training, content and qualifications (some coaching courses award a diploma after just a few hours).
  • Check that the coach belongs to an association, and that he or she meets the association's admission requirements. This is the only way to verify the coach's professionalism, and the only way to ensure that he or she is properly supervised, deontological and ethical.
    (Only a quick search in the directory of coaches of these associations via their websites will enable you to be sure).

For your information, the AFCSE (Association Française du Coaching Scolaire et Étudiant) only accepts coaches with a minimum of 250 hours of training.

Not all associations are equal and some are not very careful, so check the admission requirements of these associations, which are more interested in the number of members and their fees, than in the quality of their coaches' profiles. The same goes for the verification of the type of training carried out by the coach, not all trainings are equal, and their admission requirements can be defined with the sole aim of being open to the greatest number of aspirants.

Only the SFCoach, one of the most serious french professional coaching associations in terms of its admission requirements and certification processes, has recently (2012) renovated its identity, professionalism and strategy, which has led it to go from several hundred members to only 200.

Experience and quality come at a price! This is also an important aspect.

It is usual and logical, as coaches gain experience and expertise, that their fees increase.

Do not choose an individual coach or an organization, even a recognized one, offering coaching in a hurry. Find out everything you can about them and make sure you check everything out.

For me, a good coach is first and foremost someone who constantly and humbly questions the quality of his or her support, who seeks to improve, who analyzes the nature of his or her inner questioning and the nature, biases and implications of the questioning he or she proposes to his or her client, and who remains in constant search of neutrality, to avoid any influence.

This is how I consider that a coach should be chosen :

What you can check :

  • Choose a coach with serious training: a university "diploma" or "certification" from a top private school.
  • Ideally, the coach should have theoretical and practical training in psychology, psychopathology or even psychiatry, to be able to analyze his or her own functioning and yours! At the very least, he or she should be familiar with the subject or have done some work on himself or herself (therapy, psychoanalysis, etc.).
  • The coach's background has an indeterminate importance and consequences (business, psychology, management, law, etc.), so choose what gives you the most confidence in your situation.
  • He or she is a member of a federation or association of coaches, and adheres to a precise professional code of ethics. Take the time to find out more!
  • You need to have a good "feeling" with the coach, to feel at ease and confident, to be able to work in the best possible conditions. (See the blog article on this specific question).
  • The coach must receive you in an appropriate space, unless it's a remote coaching session

What you can't check (but is important) :

  • He is supervised, as in any helping profession, he must regularly talk about his practice, particular difficulties with a colleague.
  • He continues to educate and inform himself.

YES, all this is very time-consuming and even extremely tedious, but it's unavoidable if you don't want to fall badly and have dramatic repercussions in a few years' time.

One last recommendation. Don't choose a coach you've seen on TV, just because he's been on TV, and don't think that the journalists have done the verification work for you.

Why wouldn't they? You'll see a concrete example below, although it's not the norm, of course, and fortunately so.

Journalists are primarily interested in filming one or more sessions, they want the testimony of one or more clients and they want the coach to give advice. This is contrary to the ethics and deontology of professional coaches.
It's rarely a case of a coach simply explaining what his or her job is...

How can I be sure? I get around 15 requests a year, which I systematically refuse.

By way of example, I'm referring to this coach, whom I won't name, but who appeared on the Zone interdite TV show on August 15, 2012, for whom the journalist stated that she belonged to a federation and had undergone 200 hours of training, whereas after research on her site and on the sites of various coaches' associations, this is not the case. This coach doesn't hesitate to use her client's great vulnerability to get him to testify or to have their interview(s) filmed, with the sole aim of developing her notoriety, which seems unacceptable to me, and it's for this reason that I cite her as an example.

Perhaps she belongs to the alumni association of her coaching course, which has nothing to do with membership of a professional association.

What's more, there's nothing on her personal website about the exact course she took, as her training school offers several courses ranging from 6 to 20 days, enabling her to, and I quote, "Acquire the Most Powerful Tools of the Millennium".

I don't want to link to this school, so I made a screenshot...


I don't think I need to continue my demonstration ;)

If you don't want to stop at my only conception of the elements to take into account when choosing a coach, you can do a Google search with the key words: "how to choose a coach".

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