In the June, 2002 Harvard Business Review article “The Very Real Dangers of Executive Coaching,” Steven Berglas raised concerns about the overlap of coaching with therapy. We, as a profession, need to have standard procedures for referrals to mental health professionals who are qualified to handle issues that we as coaches are not. We must develop clear lines of distinction between coaching and therapy, especially since increasing numbers of therapists are entering the coaching pool. Licensed therapists who become coaches will have to carefully distinguish for themselves and their clients when they are practicing coaching and when they are providing therapy in order to avoid ethical violations and potential lawsuits. We must maintain ethical integrity so that executive coaches without mental health licenses are not harming clients with issues better served by therapy than coaching.
We believe that it is important for executive coaches to develop partnerships and strategic alliances with licensed clinical psychologists or psychiatrists to ensure that clients needing therapeutic treatment have access to the appropriate course of action. Such partnerships will allow us to have clear paths for referring our clients for evaluation and treatment when suspected and warranted.
5. Internationalize executive coaching
We recommend that as a profession we actively support the internationalization of coaching. The very fact that coaching is growing internationally will reflect back positively into the US market—providing vitality to our whole profession. This journal can be a forum for sharing strategies and evidence to build the executive coaching profession internationally.
We also recommend that our international colleagues learn from the product lifecycle of the U.S. market for executive coaching. Growth and expansion of executive coaching in Europe and Australia will likely follow a similar product/market life cycle as the United States—though executive coaching in these countries might experience quicker passage through the preliminary introduction stage as a result of the experiences in the U.S. Our European and Australian colleagues will be able to leverage and expand upon the market created in the U.S. by more readily showing the benefits of executive coaching. Thus, our international colleagues can benefit from this analysis at earlier stages of their respective market life cycles. They can apply the market lifecycle analysis earlier given the unique dynamics of their specific market.
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