Like all companies, professionals in the field of Christian life coaching should have a code of ethics for their business. Not only do they provide a reference for daily decision making, but it also serves as a model for your Christian life coaching business, clarifying your mission, goals, values and guidelines for professional behavior. A code of ethics allows your clients to establish a sense of trust and confidence in you, as they can know ahead of time how you will deal with sensitive issues and gray areas.
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) has developed a Code of Ethics for their certified coaches to follow, that consists of 25 separate points and covers professional conduct, conflicts of interest and confidentiality/privacy. Sally Rhys, Associate Certified Coach and Vice Chair of the Ethics & Standards Committee for ICF, says “The Code may look too prescriptive to some, but is really intended to be support to being an ethical coach. It allows for best practice sharing and raising professionalism at any level.”
Some elements of the Code of Ethics regularly raise questions among coaches, so the ICF has recently published a document of FAQ’s and their answers. Here is a sample of the most common questions:
Code of Ethics Point #1: I will not knowingly make any public statement that is untrue or misleading about what I offer as a coach, or make false claims in any written documents relating to the coaching profession or my credentials or the ICF.
Question: I have a Master’s Degree in Communication, is it okay for me to put that on my coaching website and just say I have a Master’s Degree?
Answer: Whatever degrees and credentials you choose to put on your site should clearly state which degree goes with which profession so that the information presented is not misleading. For example, a Master’s Degree in Communications is clearly stated whereas a Master’s Degree by itself might mislead the reader to think that it is in coaching.
Code of Ethics Point #7: I will maintain, store, and dispose of any records created during my coaching business in a manner that promotes confidentiality, security, and privacy, and complies with any applicable laws and agreements.
Question: How should I dispose of records?
Answer: To the best of your ability, you should delete all online and electronic records, as well as shred paper records.
Code of Ethics Point #9: I will seek to avoid conflicts of interest and potential conflicts of interest and openly disclose any such conflicts. I will offer to remove myself when such a conflict arises.
Question: May I accept a contract for a corporate mid-level manager when I am already coaching his boss?
Answer: You may accept this contract if you think that you can maintain an objective stance and confidentiality with both clients. You can discuss in general terms with the first client how he would feel about you coaching someone else in the company.
Code of Ethics Point #15: I will have clear agreements or contracts with my clients and sponsor(s). I will honor all agreements or contracts made in the context of professional coaching relationships.
Question: When my client began coaching, I was charging a certain rate and the sponsor paid that amount. My client took a three month leave of absence and during that time, I raised my rates. I feel it is fair to ask the sponsor for my new fee.
Answer: The original agreement is still in place and valid until changed. You may open conversations to begin a new agreement.
For more Frequently Asked Questions or to view a copy of the complete ICF Code of Ethics, visit the ICF website at www.coachfederation.org.
What is a gray area in Ethics that you might experience in your specific coaching niche?
Christian Coach Institute is an Approved ICF Professional Coach Training School and our Certified Christian Life Coaches take the pledge to adhere to the ICF Professional Code of Ethics and to the Christian Coach Code of Ethics.