Ethics in Life Coaching
Near the end of my life coaching course with Life Purpose Institute, while studying for the certification exam, I came across a section in our manual that discusses the board certified coach code of ethics as put forth by the Center for Credentialing & Education.
As I studied the section, it occurred to me that although coaches need to abide by ethical and legal standards, coaching clients, and prospective clients also have a right to be aware of these coaching ethics, since this piece could serve as one of the guidelines for them in choosing a coach.
In life coaching, as in any profession, it is critical to work with clients from a place of integrity. If client issues arise that the coach is not qualified to work with, they are supposed to refer the client to an appropriate professional and remain within the scope of their coaching practice.
Life coaches are obliged to truthfully inform clients of their credentials and experience without overstepping their boundaries or advising a client in any area in which they are not trained and legally qualified.
Coaches by definition do not give advice to their clients. They partner with their clients and collaborate with them by offering strategies to help them break through blocks and to reach their goals.
Coaches are facilitators but the client is the one responsible for determining what their goals are, and for following (with the coach’s support and use of professional coaching tools) their agreed upon action steps to reach those goals. Coaches cannot and should not make promises or guarantee results to clients or potential clients.
From the outset, clients should be clear about what they can expect regarding responsibilities, results, confidentiality, and financial agreements. This is generally done through the use of a written client agreement signed by the both coach and client.
If a client asks a coach for a professional referral to a third party, the coach is supposed to disclose to the client, any commission or compensation they receive from making the referral. Coaches are supposed to maintain good client records which are to be kept and kept confidential regarding the content of the coaching sessions.
Though client goals can change, the coach should not continue to work with a client who is not progressing under their guidance. Coaches are supposed to avoid pushing their own agendas on the client. Competent coaches are trained and certified professionals but they are not therapists or gurus and must not misrepresent themselves or the coaching profession.
Coaches should receive training through a reputable, accredited coaching organization to learn the particular skill set that coaches use to best serve their clients’ needs and they must not allow their own biases to affect their work with clients.
If you choose to work with a life coach to help you move through a life transition of any kind, or a spiritual life coach to learn spiritual tools which you can then apply to your daily life, such as connecting with your own intuition and using it to live your life more intentionally, the most important thing is to find a coach with whom you feel a comfortable rapport, someone with whom you feel invited to work in a focused and sacred space, and someone trained and qualified to coach you in the area you choose.
That said, information on coaching ethics provides added insight into the coaching profession, and what you as a client can expect when hiring a professional coach.