The Impostor Syndrome-Informed Coach

Elevate your credibility, confidence, and expertise with a proven framework based on four decades of work by the world’s foremost thought leader.

Millions of people around the world — regardless of gender — secretly worry they’re not as smart or talented or qualified as other people “think” they are.

Interest in impostor “syndrome” in online and traditional media, corporate settings, at universities, and elsewhere is soaring across the globe.

With that comes the growing need to more clearly understand the contextual factors driving this form of needless self-doubt as well as how to overcome impostor syndrome.

As a coach, counselor, mentor, or external* HR or DEI consultant you wonder how to help your clients:

Accurately identify impostor syndrome
Know the difference between impostor syndrome, low self-esteem, and self-doubt
Understand the source(s) of impostor syndrome
Recognize behaviors associated with impostor syndrome
Become more resilient to failure, setbacks, and constructive criticism
Coach and support others who suffer from impostor syndrome
Understand and apply concrete, immediately usable tools that help them overcome impostor syndrome so they can feel as bright and capable as they really are
Achieve their goals with less stress

The term impostor phenomenon (more commonly referred to as impostor syndrome) was first coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes.

It describes a pattern of negating evidence of one’s skills, talents, and accomplishments and experiencing a persistent habitual fear of being exposed as a fraud. Left unaddressed, this fear can lead to needless self-doubt and for some, overwhelming anxiety and depression.

Impostor syndrome isn’t just an “interesting self-help topic.”

Impostor feelings lead to behaviors. Chronic procrastination, underperforming, overworking, self-sabotage and other behaviors associated with impostor syndrome come at a high cost — personally and professionally.

What’s more, it prevents individuals from realizing their ideal selves.

The Solution

Impostor syndrome is a multi-faceted and often highly nuanced experience.

Our transformational Impostor Syndrome-Informed Coach™ program offers coaches, mentors, counselors, and external HR and/or DEI consultants a proven methodology to help others to overcome impostor syndrome.

The methodology consists of a blend of evidence-based research, practical, immediately-actionable tools, and a coaching framework to help your clients (and you!) close the confidence gap.

Led by Dr. Young and Denise McClennen, this training provides an in-depth understanding of impostor syndrome as well as the tools that have been used with a broad cross-section of people working in a wide range of occupations and levels.

This 100% virtual course offers 25 Continuing Coaching education (CCE) credits from the International Coaching Federation. Participants who successfully complete the entire program will earn 16 Core Competencies and 9 Resource Development hours.

Course Format

This eight (8) module blended learning program includes:


Four (4) LIVE ONLINE synchronous sessions. We meet live for four (4), 3-hour sessions. Recordings are available for participants who are unable to join us live.

LIVE DATES are Tuesdays from 10 am-1 pm Eastern Daylight Time (GMT-4) as follows:






Four (4) ON DEMAND asynchronous learning modules. You’ll also have 14 hours of ON DEMAND asynchronous pre-and post-session self-study and peer practice with scheduled deadlines

September 26


Deeply Understand Impostor Syndrome

You get to spend three hours with the world’s foremost impostor syndrome thought leader, Dr. Valerie Young.

Gain accurate information regarding the originators of the term “impostor phenomenon” as well as the researchers of color who preceded them
Key findings from this heavily researched topic including those based on age, gender, race, profession, and other variables
Situational, familial, occupational, societal/DEI, and organizational/workplace sources of impostor feelings
Deep dive into the core source of impostor syndrome including Young’s pioneering discovery of the 5 Types of Imposter Syndrome

October 3


The Impostor Syndrome-Informed Coach™ Foundations


Explore your own relationship with Impostor Syndrome and the assets and barriers it creates in your work with clients

Listening for Impostor Syndrome with your clients
Introduction to tools and strategies to help clients normalize impostor syndrome

October 10


Coaching Tools and Practices


Introduction to immediately usable tools to help clients navigate normalizing, reframing and growing 


Practice using tools and get immediate peer feedback


Explore the application of the tools for use with your clients

October 17


Integrate into Your Practice


Explore the ways you can help your clients restructure their thinking habits and develop healthy confidence as a practice 

Rethinking Impostor Syndrome™ as a developmental strategy
Q&A with Dr. Valerie Young

Obviously we’re just scratching the surface here.

The bottom line is as an Impostor Syndrome-Informed Coach™ you gain the confidence, expertise, and credibility to not only be highly effective in your coaching practice but to become the “go-to” person on this topic.

Participants who complete this entire training will receive an Impostor Syndrome Institute™ Impostor Syndrome-Informed Coach™ digital badge and letter of completion.

Students who are pursuing an Impostor Syndrome Institute™ Impostor Syndrome-Informed Coach™ letter of completion and badge will be required by November 17, 2023 to:

watch any missed live session recordings
complete all outside assignments such as journal assignments and quizzes

participate in two (2) 90-minute and one (1) 2 hour, 15 minute peer imposter syndrome coaching practice sessions (details below) outside of live training

Self-Directed Peer Coaching Practice

Self-directed peer coaching practice groups will be assigned at the start of the course out of the cohort of participants.

Each group will meet independently three (3) times for a total of five (5) hours and fifteen (15) minutes, to practice imposter syndrome coaching outside of class to increase the transfer of learning.

Groups will self-organize to meet as follows:


1 practice session x 1 hour, 15 minutes between LIVE Sessions One and Two


1 practice sessions x 2 hours, 15 minutes between LIVE Sessions Two and Three


1 practice session x 1 hour, 15 minutes between LIVE Sessions Three and Four

Participants will receive a guide for their peer coaching practice group to follow for each of the three (3) independent practice sessions.

Participants will also submit a reflective journal of their learning experience, at the completion of each.

How will peer coaching practice groups be assigned? At the start of the training program, participants will be surveyed for their best time of day to meet outside of class and will be matched with peers based on similar times of availability.

Is peer coaching practice required? Participation in the self-directed peer coaching practice is only a requirement of the training course if you want The Impostor Syndrome-Informed Coach™ badge and/or ICF Letter of Completion. Each participant’s commitment to meeting with their assigned peer group is important to each person’s development journey.

As a result of this training you will:


Develop a critical lens to understand this highly nuanced topic on a deeper level


Understand when a client is externalizing their successes and help reframe the legitimate role things like luck, timing, connections, and personality play in your clients’ success


Know how impostor syndrome is influenced by family messaging, situational, occupational, and organizational dynamics


Understand factors related to diversity, equity, and belonging


Evoke client awareness with a realistic understanding of competence, healthy response to failure, mistakes, setbacks, and constructive criticism


Identify other factors that can easily be confused (by you or your client) with impostor syndrome


Better understand your client’s context and lived experience


Discern themes and patterns related to impostor syndrome


Facilitate greater client insight into the sources of their impostor feelings with a proven way forward to close their confidence gap


Expand your practice reach with an additional level of credibility and confidence around a high-demand area of growth


Respond to two widely circulated and concerning narratives about impostor syndrome and their potential impact for your clients


Become an indispensable resource to clients who need to overcome imposter syndrome

What Other Students Say About Impostor Syndrome Institute™ Training Programs

Our mission at Impostor Syndrome Institute™ is to address the (avoidable) impact of impostor syndrome on individuals and organizations via Humble Realist™ thinking.

Not only has our solution been shared over 40 years with over 500,000 people worldwide, we’ve licensed speakers to deliver our Rethinking Impostor Syndrome™ presentations and workshops, and taught coaches how to be more impostor syndrome-informed in their work with coaching clients.

Here’s a sample of what previous trainees have said about their experience with our range of training programs:

“It completely transformed the way I approach my coaching practice, giving me practical tools and strategies to help my clients overcome Impostor Syndrome and become more confident in their abilities. Not only has this course enhanced my coaching practice, but it has also had a significant impact on my personal life. Prior to the course, I struggled with feeling like a fraud and often doubted my abilities as a coach. I now approach challenges with a newfound sense of confidence and am better equipped to navigate difficult situations. I highly recommend this training to anyone who wants to improve their coaching practice and better understand this complex issue.”

“Learning about Imposter Syndrome from the world’s leading authority, Dr. Valerie Young, was both an honor and privilege. I now have new possibilities for my current and future clients in supporting them in becoming the best version of themselves.”

“The Coach Training really helped me feel more confident about myself as a coach with clients experiencing impostor syndrome. I now understand that Impostor syndrome is a much more nuanced topic than I had thought. And I now see new possibilities for my clients to feel better understood and supported through my coaching. Thanks again for a great training experience that really helped me become a better coach.”

“Learning about Imposter Syndrome from the world’s leading authority, Dr. Valerie Young, was both an honor and privilege. I now have new possibilities for my current and future clients in supporting them in becoming the best version of themselves.”

“World class content.”

Save yourself time and speed up the credibility building process.

“You’ll hear firsthand from Valerie the thought process and philosophy she used to develop the content.”

“In a matter of days, you gain the ability to bring a transformational and proven program to address impostor syndrome in the workplace and equip professionals so they’re no longer held back by those impostor syndrome feelings.”

“Spending time with Valerie and being able to draw on her amazing knowledge and expertise was amazing.”

“Really embedded the key concepts of Imposter Syndrome which can be convoluted out there on the internet.”

Engage with an authority in the field and access 30+ years of research and experience.”

This is a must if you want to take the lead in normalizing impostor syndrome.”

The wealth of Valerie’s experience is in every facet of the training.”

“You’ll get everything you need to share this important information with others.”

Your Instructors

Dr. Valerie Young, award-winning author and co-founder of Impostor Syndrome Institute™ and Denise McClennen, Executive Coach, Learning Designer and Rethinking Impostor Syndrome™ Senior Associate will expertly guide your understanding of how to coach on what is a highly nuanced topic.

About Dr. Valerie Young

Widely considered the world’s foremost expert on impostor syndrome, Dr. Valerie Young is uniquely qualified to help organizations, workshop facilitators, coaches, and individuals to stamp out impostor syndrome.

Since 1982, she has delivered her Rethinking Impostor Syndrome™ program to hundreds of major corporations and universities around the world.

Research Coupled With Extensive Real-World Experience

Valerie earned her doctoral degree in education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1982. Her research sought to understand why so many bright, capable women (including herself) felt like frauds.

Then (as now), most impostor phenomenon research is done with university students. 

Instead, Valerie chose as her subjects professional women — a majority women of color. (Notably, the core solutions from these original findings have since proved useful for anyone experiencing impostor feelings.) 

And unlike psychologists and academics who offer largely therapeutic solutions to impostor feelings, Valerie used her training as well as her findings to create educational solutions to impostor syndrome. 

Taking impostor feelings out of the realm of therapy and creating educational solutions has proved tremendously effective.


Women reported asking for— and getting – raises

Corporate execs who had participated in a workshop as students told of being so transformed that years later they asked Valerie to address their employees
Writers who had played small for years became prolific
People who had lacked the confidence to start or grow a business suddenly found the courage to go for it

One physician who practices in a heavily male-dominated specialty even reported taking on more complicated surgeries

Since then, Valerie’s proven approach to tackling impostor syndrome have come from many sources. These include her:

7 years working in Fortune 200 company — five in management

25 years as the founder and “dreamer in residence” of an online business  helping people take the leap from having a boss to being their own boss

extensive experience speaking to students, faculty, and staff at over 100 colleges and universities including Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford, Oxford, and Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology

insight into how impostor feelings show up in audiences as diverse as NASA, McDonald’s, the National Cancer Institute, and Valerie’s personal favorite the highly diverse and stereotype-shattering, Romance Writers of America

in-the-trenches experience leading workshops for over half a million executives, managers, and professionals in a wide range of sectors and occupations including:






Pro Sports














Financial services




Food & Beverage







Early Pioneer of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion TRAINING

Valerie admits it took her a long time to finish her dissertation. 

One reason (besides the chronic procrastination plaguing most all grad students) was the five years (1979 to 1984) she spent as the Founding Coordinator of what was then known as the Social Issues in Education program (now Social Justice Education/UMass, Amherst). 

The program was largely driven by Founding Director and professor Bailey Jackson’s work on racial group identity and oppression theory and informed by Judith Katz, Jim Edler, Bob Moore and others groundbreaking work on racism awareness training for whites. 

Working with Dr. Jackson, Valerie and fellow doctoral candidates designed and delivered 1 credit workskops on sexism, racism, anti-semitism, classism, homophobia/heterosexism, and ablism.

Being on the forefront of helping create what only decades later would become the early forerunner of today’s diversity training, made Valerie a mapmaker.

But it is her continued commitment to addressing the intersection between impostor syndrome and DE&I that continues to set Valerie and her solutions apart today.

First to Recognize Organizational Causes — and Costs of Impostor Syndrome

Psychology professor Pauline Clance and clinical psychologist Suzanne Imes were the first to name the impostor phenomenon.

That was 1978. 

Since then researchers — most of whom are themselves psychologists — have framed the phenomenon primarily in individual terms.

Here again, Valerie broke new ground with her 1986 cover Executive Female magazine cover article on the organizational causes — and costs — of impostor syndrome.

Literally Wrote the Book on Women and Impostor Syndrome

Valerie’s groundbreaking book, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women And Men: Why Capable People Suffer from Impostor Syndrome has been reprinted in seven languages.

Valerie is a mapmaker. Providing guidelines for discovering our individual penchants for making unsound judgments about our competence and for dealing with inevitable failures, mistakes, and criticisms. I recommend her book to all my clients and students who suffer with impostor feelings.

– Suzanne Imes, PHD, Co-Discoverer of Impostor Phenomenon

About Denise mcclennen

Denise believes people are the foremost experts on themselves. Every person has the potential to solve their own dilemmas, create a roadmap for their own lives and make a unique contribution to the world in some amazing way. Whether it’s in a coaching session or a workshop, she loves facilitating people toward that magical ah-ha! moment of insight.

Her professional career titles have ranged from Executive Coach, Chief Learning Officer in the financial services industry, Author and Facilitation Lead, and Professor.

Thought Design

With over two decades of executive leadership, consulting, training, speaking and coaching experience, Denise is a frequent keynote speaker at national conventions, corporate and academic learning events and retreats. In addition to her role as Senior Associate at Impostor Syndrome Institute™, she holds certifications with Tilt365 Positive Influence Predictor, NeuroLeadership Institute (Certified Coach), Enneagram (Train-the-Trainer), LifePlanning ™ process, Tom Paterson StratOp process, E-Learning Instructional Design (USC Irvine), DiSC, Conscious Leadership Coach, Cynefin Foundations, The Neuroscience Academy certification, Growth Edge Coaching/Growth Edge Network, and Bar-On Emotional Intelligence Assessment.

She has served on boards with Growth Edge Network, Habitat for Humanity, Kent District Library System, City of Grand Rapids Advisory Board, and Pregnancy Resource Center. Denise has been a Member at The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) since 2001 and also with The NeuroLeadership Institute.

Denise established Thought Design in Grand Rapid, Michigan in 2013 to allow her to create and curate the physical environment for her high-performance thinking programs. Thought Design is the culmination of a lifetime of constant experimentation and discovery related to learning. Using the most current brain research to design learning experiences that can REALLY transform people and teams, she knows that organizations, teams, and the people that inhabit them can truly thrive if they are learning together as a lifestyle.

Denise and her husband split their time between their home in Rockford, Michigan, their houseboat in Douglas, Michigan, and a home in Punta Gorda, Florida, gravitating towards the best weather for each of the seasons. In addition to her professional career, she is a mother to five adults, and grandmother to seven growing-so-fast kids, who also help her decide where she spends her free time.


How can I possibly coach others when I experience impostor syndrome myself?

A 2022 Impostor Syndrome Institute™ poll found 90% of coaches self-identified either now have or previously experienced impostor syndrome themselves.

And like you, 82% wondered how they could possibly help others when they still experience impostor feelings themselves.

To answer your question…

  1. the fact that you can identify with your client’s experience on a deep personal level isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength.

  2. previous students consistently report that while they signed up to help others, they overcame their own impostor feelings in the process.

And when it comes to coaching – and indeed, life, confidence matters.

What if I can’t attend all of the live online sessions? Will there be recordings?

Previous attendees have joined live sessions from multiple time zones including the western zones of the US and Canada, the UK, and Europe.

Being there live is always preferable.

However, location or scheduling conflicts means not everyone can attend live.

For that reason all the live sessions will be recorded and available within a few hours.

That way you can catch up based on your own schedule and at your own pace.

Plus we know everyone needs a refresher now and then.

So as an additional benefit, you can access all of the recordings for a full year.
That way you can brush up on key concepts any time.

Is this a certification?

Impostor Syndrome Institute™ was not set up to be a certifying body that tests for comprehension or evaluates skills.

So while you will not be “certified,” you will be credentialed.

Once you successfully complete the course you will be issued a badge from Impostor Syndrome Institute™ that designates you as an impostor syndrome-informed coach.

In addition, this course is pending approval from the International Coaching Federation (ICF). If approved, you may opt to receive a letter of completion for 16 Core Competencies and 9 Resource Development Continuing Coaching Education (CCE) hours from ICF.

What do I need to do to receive credentials from Impostor Syndrome Institute™ or ICF?

To receive The Impostor Syndrome-Informed Coach™ badge and/or IFC-required letter of completion, you must complete the following steps:

  • attend live or watch any missed live session recordings

  • complete all outside assignments such as journal assignments and quizzes

  • participate in three (3) peer coaching practice sessions (two @ 90-minutes and one @ 2 hours, 15 minutes) outside of live training

You have until November 17, 2023 so you’ll have plenty of time.

If you do not need a badge or letter of completion, you can complete as much or as little of the training as you wish.

How is this training different from your Licensing for Speakers?

Many speakers are also coaches.

Of these, some use speaking as a way to attract new clients.

However, not all coaches are speakers – or want to be.

For those who do…

Impostor Syndrome Institute™ Speaker Licensing grants professionals a license to deliver our proven Rethinking Impostor Syndrome™ keynote and/or interactive workshop.

In addition to in-depth training, attendees receive a full Impostor Syndrome Institute-branded slide deck, step-by-step facilitator manual, answers to audience FAQs, handouts, marketing, and other tools to start or grow a speaking business on the topic of impostor syndrome.

The speaker training involves an initial training fee and an annual license renewal fee.

Both the speaker and coach training provide a foundational understanding of what impostor syndrome is – and is not – where it comes from, how it shows up in the form of behaviors, and solutions.

However, The Impostor Syndrome-Informed Coach™ is specifically to train individuals who provide 1-1 or small group coaching.

Moreover, coach training provides in-depth knowledge of relevant research in the fields of psychology, medicine, and business, the “thoughtware” behind our coaching approach, specific coaching modalities, and the opportunity to practice using these with other students.

I can’t decide whether to take the Speaker or Coach training – any advice?

There is no one size fits all answer here.

Some speakers take the coach program because they’re looking for additional confidence, skills, and credentials to fill their coaching practice.

Some coaches who’ve always wanted to add speaking to the mix, decide to also become a Rethinking Impostor Syndrome™ Licensed Associate.

Is there any ongoing support following the training?

Many past students want to maintain the often strong personal and professional connections they made during the training.

If you’re someone who thrives in a community setting, you will be invited to join a private Impostor Syndrome-Informed Coach™ LinkedIn group set up specifically for graduates.

This is your go-to place to connect with fellow coaches for additional practice sessions, share articles and resources, and continue to get and give support alongside professionals who share your passion for helping clients unlearn impostor syndrome. #goteam


I have a deep interest in this topic, but don’t have any formal coaching training. Can I still sign up?

You do not need to be a certified coach practitioner to attend.

Obviously you need some kind of informal or professional experience working with people 1-1.

But you can still join us even if you have no coaching certification or training.

In addition to executive leadership coaches, previous attendees have included career counselors, academic advisors, STEM mentors, and HR or DEI consultants.

The common denominator is the desire to help individuals who either struggle with or are known to be in an occupation, organizational culture, or social group that makes them more susceptible to impostor feelings.

That said, although you will leave with advanced education and practice relative to impostor syndrome, this is not a course on how to be a coach or on basic coaching skills.

What does it mean for me to be “impostor syndrome-informed?”

This training is designed to provide support and educate executive coaches with the information, insight, and tools they need to effectively help current and prospective clients.

Based on our four decades experience, becoming impostor syndrome informed means the ability for you to:

  • Accurately identify impostor syndrome and separate it from normal performance anxiety
  • Determine whether achievement hesitation is rooted primarily in impostor feelings or in concerns related to being other-directed or embracing a more layered definition of success
  • Understand the difference between impostor syndrome and low self-esteem
  • Know and be able to contextualize the seven (7) potential sources of impostor syndrome for your clients
  • Recognize largely unconscious behaviors associated with impostor syndrome including how these behaviors serve your client and at what cost
  • Draw upon practical and immediately usable tools your clients can use to that help them feel as bright and capable as they really are
  • Gain valuable insight into how your own impostor thoughts, feelings, and behaviors may be holding you and your career back

*If you are an employee of a corporation, association, non-profit or university, please click here use to start a conversation about our solutions for teams and organizations.

Everyone loses when bright people play small

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