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Ethical Framework for the Use of Technology in Coaching

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• How professionalism will be maintained: Coaches discuss with clients the expected boundaries and expectations about forming relationships online. Coaches inform clients that any requests for “friendship,” business contacts, direct or @replies, blog responses or requests for a blog response within social media sites will be ignored to preserve the integrity of the coaching relationship and protect confidentiality. If the client has not been formally informed of these boundaries prior to the coach receiving the request, the coach will ignore the request via the social media site and explain why in subsequent interaction with the client.

• Coaches will seek to avoid conflicts of interest and potential conflicts of interest and, if a conflict arises, openly disclose any such conflicts. Coaches will offer to remove themselves when such a conflict arises

Coaches conduct an initial interview and evaluate the client’s ability to effectively engage in technology-enabled coaching. The initial interview and intake process begins with the potential client’s first contact. The coach implements informal measures for screening a client’s suitability for delivery of coaching services via technology.

• Client’s Technology Skills: Coaches screen potential client’s use of technology through questions at the outset. Questions include but are not limited to an inquiry about the client’s experience with online culture e.g. email, chat rooms, forums, social networks, instant messaging, online purchasing, mobile texting, VOIP or telephones. Coaches ensure that the client’s platform is compatible with the varying programs and platforms the coach may utilize during the course of coaching.

• Client’s Language Skills: Coaches screen for language skills from the initial contact through the first few exchanges. Assessing for language barriers, reading and comprehension skills as well as cultural differences is part of the screening process. Text-based coaching may also involve screening for keyboarding proficiency.

• Client’s Potential to Benefit from Coaching: Coach refers clients presenting with acute emotional distress and, or other symptoms of significant mental distress or disorder to appropriate mental health services.

Coaches enter into a contractual agreement with the client to provide coaching services. Coaches will carefully review the Informed Consent with the coaching client and will strive to ensure that, prior to, or at, the initial meeting, their coaching client and sponsors understand the nature of coaching, the nature and limits of confidentiality, financial arrangements, and any other terms of the coaching agreement including how coaching information will be exchanged among coach, client, and sponsor (the person contacting for and paying for coaching.) The coach or coaching organization will have the client sign the Informed Consent, the coaching contract, and thereby enter into an agreement for coaching.

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Originally published: Labardee, L., Nagel, D.M. & Anthony, K. (2011). “An Ethical Framework for the Use of Technology in Coaching”. Therapeutic Innovations in Light of Technology, Vol 1 (4): 20-28

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