How to Choose a Professional Academic Coach ?
First of all, the most important thing when looking for a coach can be summed up in 2 words:
VIGILANCE and especially V E R I F I C A T I O N...
And yes, many people with no training are selling coaching. Your baker could become a coach! The profession is not regulated... It is not enough to know a little more than the neighbor to call yourself a coach, from one day to the next. The coach is too often confused with the notion of mentor, in short, a teacher. In reality, the role of the coach is to accompany you in the resolution of your problems by relying mainly on your resources and without influencing you. This requires, among other things, a fine knowledge of psychology, questioning and human interactions.
In this context, and even if this does not guarantee anything, if you cannot verify or control what the coach presents as training and experience, but also as a detailed service offer, be careful!
Before proposing some examples and detailing the checklist to be done before choosing a coach, it is important to explain that you are not choosing a coach, a profile, an experience or a training.
Above all, you choose a service!This service is a referral offer, the exact terms of which should be detailed for you and you should be able to identify the inherent problems, if not be alert to some key indicators. Here are a few examples that should alert you and please do not hesitate to do further research:
- Does the coach use NLP tools?
A thorough study of these tools will make you realize that some of the tools that coaches are trained to use are real techniques of influence and manipulation. (I often use both terms for those who think that the meaning is different, you will find an article on this subject in the blog) I also invite you to do some research in this sense on your favorite search engine...
- The coach explains his services with an artificially zen tone?
Using a deliberately zen, soft, calm or honeyed tone is a well known technique of influence. Moreover, 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 also a well-known technique of influence.
- The coach has no training in psychology?
So 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?
What is their origin? Do you feel like you are taking a test? Are they MCQs on 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?
RUN AWAY. A career test is the opposite of what you are looking for. If the coach or organization offers you one, it means that they have not understood what a career test is and why they should not be used, which is really not a good sign, and that they have understood even less the main principles of the coaching method, which is to encourage reflection, among other things.
At this stage, if you feel a little lost when you hear these four elements, it is urgent for you to become more competent on these notions, 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 the choice of a guidance method.
Let's move on to some examples, to make this presentation more lively and concrete. Hold on, a little further on I propose a video of a humorist on coaches...
I would like to point out that the examples given below are taken from verifications made by myself on coaching websites. As for the example of plagiarism to which I refer, you will find an article in the blog on this subject.
An example of what a verification can reveal: You will find coaches who mention a start of activity in 2008 while their Siret dates from 2014 and their domain name (blabla.fr) for their website was also bought in 2014...
Others present themselves as belonging to an association of coaches of which they are not part...
With a little digging, you can sometimes find that they have completed a 50-hour coaching training, which is of course deemed insufficient by most serious coaching associations and by any parent of even a little bit of knowledge, or even just common sense... This was quickly confirmed by a quick look at the directory of coaches of the said association.
And I will not dwell on the services, the networks, the institutes and the companies which, in order to appear attractive and unavoidable, let us think that their network of coaches is established in all the big cities of France, or even that it is a European network and that they have worked long and hard on their content (orientation tests, nonsense to be avoided in the first place and which should become a "red flag" indicator for you) with all their teams of specialists to try to demonstrate a certain professionalism, when in reality it is only a well-known test used by everyone (RIASEC, for example) which is quite simply a heresy when applied to guidance.
Choosing a GOOD coach is already 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 for your child, the only solution is to do your investigation in a rigorous and thorough way by checking point by point the different elements of your "check list":
- Check the coaching training, its content and the coach's diplomas (some coaching trainings deliver a diploma after only a few hours).
- Check his membership in an association (and the admission requirements of this one), the only guarantee of control of his professionalism during his admission, that he has the requirements, and then, the only guarantee of supervision, deontology and ethics.
(Only a quick search in the directory of coaches of these associations via their website will allow 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 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.
A real coach does not work below a certain rate, just as a school teacher will not accept to work for a big tutoring group for 15 euros an hour. For 15 euros an hour, a student will give you your tutoring, you have certainly already experienced this.
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 above all someone who constantly and humbly questions the quality of his or her coaching, 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 remains in constant search of neutrality and to avoid any influence.
This is how I consider that a coach should be chosen :
What you can check :
- Choose a coach with a serious training: "graduate" from a university or "certified" by a good private school (there are many trainings and schools, ask about the content, the duration and the admission requirements of this training if it is not university)
- The coach must have a theoretical and practical training in psychology, psychopathology or psychoanalysis or even psychiatry to be able to analyze his functioning and yours!
- The coach's background is important (business, psychology, management, law, ...) choose what gives you the most confidence in your situation.
- He is a member of a federation or association of coaches and adheres to a precise professional code of ethics, take the time to inform yourself on this point!
- It is necessary to have a good "feeling" with the coach, and to feel at ease and especially in confidence to be able to work effectively. (See the blog article on this specific question)
- The price of the session must be coherent with his experience.
- The coach must receive you in an office to guarantee professional secrecy unless it is a remote coaching.
- The coach has done work on himself (therapy, psychoanalysis, etc.).
If you can't find the information, ask for it... And to check: a little trick... Serious trainings ask for it as a prerequisite for admission! (like the university Paris 8 where I did my training for example)... Serious associations ask for it as a prerequisite for admission too
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, this is all very time consuming and even extremely tedious, but it is unavoidable if you don't want it to go wrong and have dramatic repercussions in a few years for your child.
One last recommendation. Do not choose a coach that you have seen on TV, just because he has been on TV, do not think that the journalists have done the work of verification for you, it is not so.
It is very simple, what interests the journalists is above all to film one or several sessions, they want the testimony of one or several clients and they want the coach to give advice. This is contrary to the ethics and deontology of professional coaches.
It is rarely a coach who simply comes to explain what his job is...
How can I be sure? I have about 15 requests per year, which I systematically refuse.
For the example, I refer to this coach that I will not name, but who appeared in the program Forbidden Zone of August 15, 2012, for whom the journalist specifies that she is part of a federation and that she has followed a 200-hour training course while after research, on her site and on the sites of the various associations of coaches, this does not seem to be the case. This coach does not hesitate to use the great vulnerability of her client to push him to testify or to have their interview(s) filmed with the sole aim of developing her notoriety, which seems to me to be unacceptable and it is for this reason that I cite her as an example.
Perhaps she belongs to the alumni association of her coaching training, which has nothing to do with belonging to a professional association.
Moreover, nothing is specified on her personal website, about the exact training she followed, because her training school offers several courses ranging from 6 to 20 days, allowing, I quote, "Acquire the Most Powerful Tools of the Millennium".
I don't want to link to this school, so I made a screenshot, obviously it's a French website...
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".