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Online Coaching: The Next Step in Technology and Client Service

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Published in, and reproduced with permission from, choice, the magazine  of professional coaching

Do you tweet? Do you use Google Talk? Do you have a profile on Facebook? LinkedIn? Do you instant message? Do you Skype?

Each of these social media platforms offers coaches new ways to communicate with our clients in the rapidly evolving online world. As the ways in which we can communicate online become more common and available, so do the ways in which we can offer our services to and connect with our clients. The new technology might also give coaches access to younger clients, for whom online life is a given. Without this new technology, we might not otherwise be able to connect with client populations who can benefit from our services.

Back in 1996, I became excited about the prospect of coaching by phone, which allowed me to live where and how I wanted, and to have paying clients who lived somewhere else. I had been coaching executives since 1990 in their offices as part of my psychology/consulting business. But the convenience of telephone coaching was exciting and was a service I could not ethically provide to therapy clients in my psychology practice (at least that is what I thought). Since then, the various ethical bodies (American Counseling Association, American Psychological Association, and so on) have recognized  phone-based  therapy and online therapy as new service methods for many therapists and clients. However, there are still some debates occurring as to how to do it and remain ethical.

The reality of online coaching is even more exciting than the jump to telephone coaching. Given the cutting-edge growth of online therapy and counseling, online coaching is also a growing reality. Most coaches, of course, communicate with clients via email between sessions, but not as  the primary method of delivering coaching. Yet our younger clients are used to chatting, Twitter, text messaging, so online coaching can be quite helpful and strategic. Online counselors charge either a monthly retainer and include an upper limit of message responses, or they charge by the transaction. Could this evolve as a strategy in delivering coaching as well?

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