How do you choose the right course or coach?

By Martin Thoolen,
Published at 17 April 2023.
Read 5 minutes.

The sunny and dark sides of many coaches and academies.

How do you make the best choice for a course or a coach these days? For example, to achieve Personal Leadership or Mastery?

This was not an issue more than 30 years ago, when I stood at the cradle of (business) coaching in the Netherlands in 1992 as a project developer of Individual Coaching at the Boertien & Partners training institute.

In the decades since, a proliferation of 100,000 coaches has come about, because it is not a protected title and so anyone can call themselves a coach. Just look at the number of current social media posts by some would-be coaches: in particular, earning a lot of money quickly seems to be the priority for some coaches or institutes, ranked above integrity and proven professionalism.

The sunny side of many coaches and academies

How beautiful it is to see that there are so many people who are curious about personal, professional or even spiritual development, and that so many of us follow or have followed myriad low-threshold courses about, for example, NLP, mindfulness, or 'healing'. You benefit from it yourself and want to pass it on to others. And then you become a coach, 'healer', 'teacher' or trainer yourself and set up your own academy. And that way we can do even more for each other.

Op deze manier wordt soms zelfs voorkomen dat ‘klanten’ of ‘deelnemers’ hun heil moeten zoeken bij een psycholoog of psychiater. En voorkomen is beter dan genezen. Bovendien wordt de schaamte voor het ouderwetse gekte-taboe doorbroken en vragen mensen zo eerder om geestelijke steun. Daarbij komt dat je als klant niet te maken hebt met ellenlange wachttijden, terwijl de geestelijke nood soms hoog is. De grote hoeveelheid coaches geeft ook nog eens een diversiteit en specialismen te zien waardoor er meer persoonlijk maatwerk geleverd kan worden.

Benefits galore, but there is also a dark side. 

The dark side of many coaches and academies

Due to the large number of coaches and academies, you also see a growing lack of quality. Not only that, some approaches can actually be dangerous and cause mental damage, and unintentionally drive people further into depression, confusion, panic or worse.

The hunt for money as well as self-overestimation and lack of self-reflection can sometimes drive the coach or 'Academy'. For example, I recently read a newspaper article in which a coach literally stated that as an 'experience expert' he did not need any training. But then aren’t all people actual experience experts, so would that then make everyone a good coach?

De zelfoverschatting komt voort uit een angst voor gebrek aan geld (armoede-bewustzijn) en/of niet onderkend te groot ego of narcisme. Met spirituele ego-verheffing hoop je zo ‘in the picture’ te komen en al doende aan klanten en geld te komen. Op welke manier zie je concreet deze – vaak onbewuste en niet erkende – ego-verheffing plaatsvinden. Een paar actuele voorbeelden:

  • There are all kinds of 'Academies' popping up like mushrooms, while most of the people who work there don't even have an academic degree.
  • An 'Academy' may propagate on its website that others claim to have a monopoly on the truth (implicitly pointing out that they themselves know or do better).
  • They present their own book as a bestseller and game changer, and 'self-proclaim' it to be the 'bible' for personal development (while there is nothing spiritual to discover in it).
  • Je 'verlicht-zijn' verkoopt terwijl dat in eigen doen en laten niet opvalt.
  • They book themselves as 'leading personal coach in the country’, when they are not.
  • On the back cover of their book they mention that 10,000 copies have already been sold, because they had enough money to buy all 10,000 themselves in advance.
  • You promote heart-to-heart speaking in your communications or address participants as 'angels', while lacking actual forgiveness and love for all people in your own actions ('we actually don't practice what we preach').

And yes, people are sensitive to these commercial lies wrapped in a spiritual ego sauce. But why do we sometimes stumble into this?

Why do we sometimes fall for this ego horn blowing?

An important reason why you sometimes fall for this tripe is ignorance, and not investigating the quality and experience of an institute, trainer, coach, teacher, or healer.

Another reason may be that the spiritual need is so great that you grab a hold of whatever looks good on the outside.

And finally, money. Many people, especially in the Netherlands, want everything cheap. Especially in times of crisis, when the money is no longer just tucked in the mattress, they grab whatever is cheapest. And can you blame them? If you can use a (STAP-)budget provided by the government, you won't resist. But are you getting the quality you deserve?

Because the actual quality of an 'academy' or training institute, trainer, coach, healer, or teacher is ultimately determined by the person you’re dealing with, not the building they are in or academy they are working for.

"“The actual quality of an 'academy' or training institute, trainer, coach, healer, or teacher is ultimately determined by the person you’re dealing with, not the building they are in or academy they are working for”.".

But how do you make a good choice, so you can really get what you are looking for, for possibly just a little more money? Time for some tips.

TIPS for an optimal choice of a course or a coach

Here are eight tips to help you make the best choice for a coach, trainer, or institute:

1. See how many flight-hours a coach/trainer has booked with clients who were looking for the same thing you are.

2. Look at (pre)training, post-doctoral training and certifications.

3. Look at genuine testimonialsfrom previous clients.

4. Is there evidence of years of evaluations and genuine references?

5. Is the coach/trainer really credible and do they live up to that in their own actions? (‘do they truly practice what they preach?’)

6. As a a client, are you treated as an equal?

7. 7. As a client, do you experience the coach, trainer, or institute showing sufficient self-reflection , in addition to proven expertise?

88. Do not register right away, but first get a free intake consultation.

Get a no-obligation, free intake consultation to find out the nitty gritty on the coach/trainer with whom you will actually be dealing. Experience your coach/trainer 'live' in advance, so that you know what they are made of. Because if you don't hear someone 'live' first, you can be quite disappointed by the bum notes you will have to listen to later.

“If you don't hear someone 'live' first, you can be quite disappointed by the bum notes you will have to listen to later.” 

I hope that this will help you separate the wheat from the chaff and come to a choice that will benefit you the most, in your work and life.


© 2023: Martin Thoolen

#personalleadership #spiritedpersonalleadership #coaching #training #coach #trainer #healer #teacher #academy #opleidingsinstituut

Martin Thoolen

My 30 years of professional experience as an awareness coach, clinical and organisational psychologist has enabled me to help thousands of clients in Personal or Collective Leadership. Both groups and individuals, in coaching sessions, training courses, leadership development and organisation development programs, retreats and seminars.
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