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Coaching Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards- Coaching Competency

Table of Contents

This competency is about understanding the professional standards and guidelines that coaches must abide by. Some of these coaching ethical guidelines are legally binding while others are considered best practices. Following these guidelines and standards ensure that the coach is able to safeguard their legal interests. The purpose of ethical guidelines and professional standards is to share best practices that have been identified through research. 

Being an obligation of the therapist to provide their services to individuals, it must be characterized by responsible, dignified, transcendent, and honourable behaviour, since helping represents an act of morality; therefore, those people who are dedicated to seeking health in others must act with impeccable ethics.

Thus, the coach or a therapist when knowing the fields in which he will apply his theoretical knowledge must be aware of:

  • Their resources
  • Limitations
  • Ethical principles that this profession entails
  • The need for continuous training

These guidelines and professional standards serve to uphold the integrity of ICHARS and the coaching profession by:

  • Setting standards of conduct consistent with core values and ethical principles.
  • Guiding ethical reflection, education, and decision-making.
  • Providing the basis for ethics training in their widely recognized programs.

Basic principles regulating the coaching ethical guidelines and professional standards

Coaching Ethical Guidelines
  • Respect the dignity of people
    It is in this principle where the psychologist recognizes that everyone has the right to the appreciation of others. 
  • Responsible care
    The professional shows concern for the welfare or avoids harm to any individual, family, group, or community.
  • Integrity in relationships
    In which precision and honesty are demonstrated; openness and sincerity; maximum objectivity and minimum prejudice, avoiding conflicts of interest.
  • Responsibility towards society
    In which the psychologist, professionally and as a citizen, has responsibilities to the society in which he or she lives.
    All coaches and therapists should recognize and honour the basic rights of all people, should respect people’s liberty and pursuit of happiness, and assume responsibility for their actions as professional psychologists.
  • Honesty
    Be honest and work within recognized scientific standards, applicable subject guidelines, and boundaries of one’s competence.
  • Awareness of responsibility and self-study
    As professionals, their practical activities in the field of psychology may have effects on society and individuals. In order to make such a contribution to society, psychologists should constantly strive to develop an appropriate professional dignity.
  • Public statements and responsibility
    While making public statements or writing articles, the consent of the client and others involved must be obtained. Also, it must be ensured that clients cannot be identified through published information.
  • Responsibility to Clients
    Before or at the initial meeting the coach/therapist must ensure that the client understands the nature and potential value of coaching, the nature and limits of confidentiality, financial arrangements, and any other terms of the coaching agreement.
    It is advised to create an agreement/contract regarding the roles, responsibilities, and rights of all parties involved with the client before the commencement of services.
  • Identify limitations of self
    A coach or a therapist should be able to recognize his/ her limitations or circumstances that may impair, conflict with, or interfere with their coaching performance or their professional coaching relationships. They should be willing to reach out for support to determine the action to be taken and, if necessary, promptly seek relevant professional guidance. 
  • Explanation and consent
    When carrying out therapy sessions they must inform all clients of the details of the said sessions and must obtain their consent preferably in writing. Where it is difficult for members to gain informed consent regarding their research from participants, members must obtain such consent from a close family member.
  • Confidentiality
    Care should be taken that:
    • The therapist never invades the privacy of any individual without first obtaining that individual’s permission. 
    • They do not cause any physical or psychological damage to participants. 
    • The client records should be stored under the strictest confidence, making sure that such information is never divulged to anyone else.
  • Define Therapist-Client Relationship
    Do not participate in any sexual or romantic engagement with the client. One should be ever mindful of the level of intimacy appropriate for the relationship. Also, they should take the appropriate action to address the issue or cancel the coaching engagement.
  • Maintain Transparency
    Have a clear understanding of sharing of information amongst the concerned parties. This should also involve clarity with the client about the conditions under which information will not be kept confidential (e.g., illegal activity, likely risk of danger to self or others; etc.). 
  • Client’s Right to terminate
    Respect the coachee’s right to terminate the coaching relationship at any point for any reason during the coaching process, subject to the provisions of the agreement.
  • Fairness and Equality
    Avoid discrimination by maintaining fairness and equality in all activities and operations, while respecting local rules and cultural practices. This includes, but is not limited to, discrimination on the basis of age, race, gender expression, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability, or military status.

Coaching ethical guidelines and professional standards is a prime topic in the field of psychology and coaching. Working with clients can have many challenges and can cause a wide variety of ethical and moral issues that need to be addressed. Following a set ethical practice provides a direction for professionals so as to facilitate them with the knowledge of what should be done when especially when they experience some type of moral or ethical difficulty. 

Most importantly, a coach or a therapist should be able to recognize and understand their line of qualification, their level of proficiency and capabilities, and their experience.

Stay watchful of any signs from the client that indicates dissatisfaction towards the worth of the coaching. In case of any such indications, the client should be advised to shift to another coach/service.

Stay abreast, as well as learn to wisely manage, any status difference resulting from the difference in culture, psychology, economy, or any other issues. And lastly, commit to excellence through continued personal, professional, and ethical development.

Remember as a coach, it is important to focus on developing advanced coaching competencies and for psychologists, it is equally important to develop advanced therapeutic skills.