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Ethical Framework for the Use of Technology in Coaching

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Ellen Neiley Ritter & DeeAnna Merz Nagel

A competent coach working online will always adhere to at least the following minimum standards and practices in order to be considered to be working in an ethical manner.

Coaches have a sufficient understanding of technology. Technology basics are required for coaches who choose to deliver coaching services via technology. Coaches will possess a basic understanding of technology as the technology relates to delivery of services

• Encryption: Coaches understand how to access encrypted services to store records and deliver communication. Records storage can be hosted on a secure server with a third-party, stored on the coach’s hard drive utilizing encrypted folders or stored on an external drive that is safely stored.

• Backup Systems: Records and data that are stored on the coach’s hard drive are backed up either to an external drive or remotely via the Internet.

• Password Protection: Coaches take further steps to ensure confidentiality of coaching communication and other materials by password protecting the computer, drives and stored files or communication websites.

• Firewalls: Coaches utilize firewall protection externally or through web-based programs.

• Virus Protection: Coaches protect work computers from viruses that can be received from or transmitted to others, including clients.

• Hardware: Coaches understand the basic running platform of the work computer and know whether or not a client’s hardware/platform is compatible with any communication programs the coach uses.

• Software: Coaches know how to download and operate software and assist clients with the same when necessary to the delivery of services.

• Third-party services: Coaches utilize third-party services that offer an address and phone number so that contact is possible via means other than email. This offers a modicum of trust in the third-party utilized for such services as backup, storage, virus protection and communication.

Coaches work within their Scope of Practice. Scope of Practice indicates the specific area to which a coach may practice. Coaches also follow local and regional laws and codes of ethics as applicable.

• Coaches will accurately identify their coaching qualifications, expertise, experience, certifications and credentials.

• Coaches maintain a reasonable level of awareness of current best business practices and professional information in their fields of activity, and undertake ongoing efforts to maintain competence in the skills they use.

• Coaches understand and clearly communicate the distinction between coaching, consulting, psychotherapy and other support professionals.

• Coaches understand and adhere to responsibility to refer clients to other support professionals when needed.

• Coaches will encourage their clients or sponsors to make a change if the coach believes the client or sponsor would be better served by another coach or by another resource.

• Coaches do not attempt to maintain simultaneous counseling and coaching relationships with client even when properly qualified as a coach and licensed in another profession such as counseling.

• Coaches adhere to professional codes of conduct as published by internationally recognized professional coaching organizations.

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