Academies Certified Strengths Coach Program

If you’re like many coaches, you already know about the power of strengths. Chances are you’ve taken the CliftonStrengths somewhere along the way. And yet, far too many coaches aren’t actively introducing, implementing, and leveraging strengths with clients or teams.

Strengths never fail us. They are an ever-present “go-to,” equipping people to find both a workable game plan and the confidence to achieve their dreams.

The Research Behind Strengths

For decades, the Gallup organization and others have documented the power of strengths.

A comprehensive Gallup study showed that strength-based development leads to:

10% to 19% increased sales
14% to 29% increased profit
3% to 7% higher customer engagement
9% to 15% increase in engaged employees

The Academies Brain-Friendly Approach to Strengths

What comes naturally to you has lots of neural connections in your brain.

More Neural Connections =
More Routinization/Habit/Ease

Lots of neural connections mean highly myelinated “muscle memory,” with split-second access to ways of thinking and doing.
The problem, however, is that we:

1. Don’t realize we’re using our strengths, which leads to taking them for granted
2. Overuse and distort them to the point that they shift from advantage to weakness
3. Don’t use them in a focused manner, which leads to a stagnant, stuck-in-a-rut life

Using our Red Zone | Blue Zone model, we help coaches guide their clients out of the limiting mindset of the Red Zone where strengths are unfocused and overused and into the safe, strong mindset of the Blue Zone where strengths are equipping and advantageous.

The Magic in Strengths

When people—both our clients and ourselves as coaches—believe, internalize, and leverage their strengths, magical things happen:

  • We let go of Saboteur-laden language that discourages and defeats us.
  • We operate from our higher self—the ever-flowing fount of wisdom, creativity, and ease.
  • We more easily connect and co-create with others—psychological safety and collective intelligence are the norm.
  • We take action on things that are important and meaningful—and have maybe been putting off.
  • We learn, grow, and evolve—life is no longer framed as duality where everything is right-wrong or good-bad, but mutuality where everything is a playground of potentiality and exploration.

So, in returning to our question: “How do we support clients to behold, indeed, that they are ‘naturally creative, resourceful, and whole’?”, we can point to what is naturally there. Their strengths.

Our Holistic Strengths Model

Most strengths work focuses on a one-dimensional look at tactical/HOW-TO strengths. Yet, with a multidimensional look at strengths, people can figure out not just HOW to move forward, but better choose WHAT they want and WHY they want it. Our holistic approach honors the humanity within us and the people we coach, and epitomizes the coaching maxim that clients are creative, resourceful, and whole.


Your “What” Strengths:
Guides you in what to choose, prioritize, focus on


Your “How To” Strengths:
Guides you in Doing; helps you get things done with ease


Your “Why” Strengths:
Guides you in Being, purpose, meaning-making, values


ICF Approval: This 30-hour program of Core Competency Training is approved as an ACSTH program by the International Coach Federation (ICF) as a part of The Academies’ Accredited Coach Training Program (ICF ACTP/Level 2).

Program Details


Why the Academies

Neuroscience: We’ve been training coaches for 20+ years, and we’ve spent the better part of our last 10 years gobbling up the latest research on neuroscience. Translating neuroscience findings into easy-to-implement coaching techniques is our passion. When you marry coaching techniques with mind-body biology, you have a much better chance of supporting your clients to make lasting change (they’ll thank you for it)!

Mission: We’re on a mission to “Change Minds, For Good” (starting with our own)! We believe respectful relationships and authentic conversations are the incubator for insight, action, and lasting change. We believe that every brain is wired for growth and capable of choosing well. We stand for growing our individual and collective capacity to feel good, think good, encounter good, and create good. If this resonates with you, you’re in the right place.

More on the brain: Our certification programs are intentionally structured to extend over several months’ time. That’s because new skills cannot be mastered in a weekend format (have you ever come back to your office after being at a great conference, only to forget half of what you’ve learned or be too busy to implement the other half?) Nor can coaching be mastered entirely by embarking on self-directed study or reading books (much the same as taking a course on music appreciation does not equip one to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata).

To learn effectively, the brain needs good “P.R.”—Positivity and Routinization:

  • We make learning fun (you’ll remember more),
  • We pride ourselves on creating psychologically safe learning environments (you’ll feel confident to take more risks), and
  • We create opportunities to practice coaching over time (you’ll build “muscle memory” that lasts).

Strengths Coach Program

Learn coaching techniques to implement these strengths tools:

  1. CliftonStrengths* 34 themes—these are your “HOW” strengths. They help you execute and get things done with ease. *formerly Clifton StrengthsFinder of the popular book StrengthsFinder 2.0
  2. VIA Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS)—these are your motivational “WHY” strengths. They help inspire, bringing meaning and purpose to your work and life.
  3. Soul Strengths—unique to The Academies approach, we also weave in what we refer to as “Soul Strengths.” This is your “WHAT” strength—it’s that still, small voice within that guides, nudges, and clarifies what you really want!

In addition, here are just some of the resources you will receive:

  • Robust toolkit for sharing strengths with your clients, giving you the flexibility to simply incorporate strengths in your coaching conversations or go deep with clients who would benefit from an in-depth exploration of strengths
  • More than 30 exercises and forms to choose from
  • A collection of powerful coaching questions to expand and reinforce your client’s strengths

Throughout the program, you’ll get to zero in on Strengths for the types of clients you work with most. For example:

  • Career: If you’re working with career clients, strengths can be incorporated in career choice, career brand, job search, resumes/LinkedIn profiles, networking, interviewing, career promotion.
  • Leadership: If you’re working with leaders, we’ll address strengths-based leadership to support one’s leadership philosophy, personal brand, managing up, team performance, conflict transformation, and more.
  • Uncertainty & Stress: You’ll gain insights on how stress and the Red Zone can contort or warp your strengths. Then, learn how to use Strengths to navigate uncertainty, stress, disappointments, delays, overwhelm, resistance, and conflict.
  • Mindfulness & Consciousness: Learn how Strengths can ease life transitions and deepen your levels of mindfulness and consciousness. Gain insightful techniques on compassionately turning strengths inward. Doing so can be key to letting go of limiting beliefs and self-defeating behaviors!


We “meet” from the comfort of home/office via Zoom for 10 weeks, for 2 hours each time. Total class hours are 30. The beauty of the 10-week program allows you the time and framework to assimilate, practice and execute the new systems, strategies, and communication styles learned. It also allows you to connect with your instructor and cluster-mates.

How much time will you spend in addition to class-time hours? Past participants indicate spending about one to two additional hours each week for classroom tasks and buddy coaching.

See our calendar or email Brittany HERE for upcoming dates and times.

If you wish to participate in 1-on-1 training, the program sessions will be scheduled at a mutually convenient time and can be compressed into a slightly shorter time frame or stretched to a slightly longer time frame–whatever will work best for your schedule.


Open Cluster Format: A group of 4-12 classmates; pricing and registration details please click HERE.

Individual Format (one-on-one): pricing and registration details please contact Brittany Macdonald HERE or at 559.547.8202.

Private Cohort: pricing and registration details please contact Brittany Macdonald HERE or at 559.547.8202.

Our Program Policy and procedures

Materials Fee

Two assessment results are required for this program that will need to be purchased separately:

CliftonStrengths Full Report ($50)

Values in Action Full Report ($50)


To enroll in this advanced program, you will need to meet one of the following qualifications:

  • The Academies CCMC or CELDC Program
  • An ICF ACC Credential or above
  • Prior coach training with focus on the ICF core competencies
  • Prior professional focus in leadership development or HR/OD/IO psych
  • Other related experience that demonstrates your readiness to dive into an advanced coach training program

Final Requirements

Attendance: Attend 8 of the 10 live class sessions

Vimify: At the conclusion of the program, participants will be required to finish Vimify (online classroom) tasks with an 80% completion rate or more within 10 days of the conclusion of the program.  If the 80% is not met, the coach will be issued a Certificate of Completion for the course in place of the credential.

Buddy Coaching and Homework: Your classroom tasks will include one hour of buddy coaching after the first nine weeks of class along with short daily tasks each week for a total of approximately two hours of tasks per week.

Mentor Coaching: 2 group mentor coaching sessions with an Academies PCC-Certified coach are included in the price of the program. Mentor coaching sessions are in groups of up to four and about an hour each.

  • 3 additional individual mentor coaching sessions are available for purchase if you are pursuing an ICF credential (ACC, PCC, or MCC) or would like additional guidance on your coaching strategies
  • All mentor coaching must be completed within 12 weeks after completion of the 12-week program. Missed sessions, without 24 hours prior notice, are billed.

Upon completion of the above requirements, coaches will receive a display certificate suitable for framing and rights to use the ASCS logo.

Withdrawal Policy

Should you need to withdraw, the following options are available:

Transfer Option: Should you want to retake the course with a starting date within 12 months of the original starting date (subject to space availability) – a $350 administrative fee applies and an additional charge equal to the difference in price if the program has increased in investment.

Withdrawal Option: Receive a full refund less a $350 administrative fee if withdrawing at least 48 hours before class begins.  Receive a 50% refund if withdrawing after that time and before class 2 (note that if you choose to pay via payment plan, your second payment will be drawn and your final two will be canceled).  Upon notifying us of withdrawal, we ask you to delete any program materials you may have downloaded. No refund available after class 2.