Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards as a Certified Health Coach

The ICF no #1 competency – Meeting ethical guidelines and professional standards help the individual set the foundation for a productive coaching relationship and each coaching session.   In the healthcare industry, health coaches must adhere to ethical and professional standards in their field to avoid dire consequences. 

Who Are Certified Health Coaches?

Certified Health Coaches are credentialed healthcare professionals who, in most cases, possess expertise in areas such as Nursing, Physical Therapy, Mental Health, Health Education.  The health coach utilizes coaching skills to work with their clients in bringing about the change they desire in their overall health and wellness.  With the proper training, skills, and strategies, the coach can provide a higher level of care to their clients (patients).  In recent years, there is strong evidence showing the impact health coaching is making in the lives of people.  It is promoting happiness and helping people live longer and fulfilling lives. 

ICF Competency #1 – What is Expected of Coaches?

Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards—Understanding of coaching ethics and standards and ability to apply them appropriately in all coaching situations.

The International Coach Federation expects the following from its credentialed coaches:

  • Understands and exhibits in their own behaviors the ICF Code of Ethics.
  • Understands and follows all ICF Ethical Guidelines.
  • Clearly communicates the distinctions between coaching, consulting, psychotherapy, and other support professions.
  • Refers clients to other support professionals as needed, knowing when this is needed and the available resources.

Meeting Ethical Guidelines And Professional Standards in Health Coaching

Within the healthcare field, meeting ethical guidelines and professional standards is essential in the way clients are serviced, especially in a society like the United States, where medical malpractice is a common occurrence.  Health coaches must be vigilant in their coaching practice, and abiding by the ICF Code of Ethics and adhering to the following guidelines and professional standards within their scope of practice will enable them to accomplish that with minimal room for errors. 

 As a Certified Health Coach and Healthcare Professional, make an effort to:

  1. Uphold the strictest level of privacy and confidentiality with all client (patient) information.  Maintain, store, and dispose of any records, including electronic files and communications, created during the coaching relationship.  Adhere to all HIPAA regulations.
  2. Familiarize yourself with and also understand the laws and regulations in their area of practice.   
  3. Report any illegal, unethical, or inappropriate actions from coworkers, vendors, and management.
  4. Demonstrate integrity at all times.
  5. Maintain distinctions with other support professions.
  6. Create a safe and supportive environment for your clients (patients).
  7. Use proper professional titles and do not misrepresent your coaching qualifications, training, and experience.
  8. Ensure that the client fully understands the terms of the coaching relationship.
  9. Never go beyond your scope of practice.  Be ready to refer clients when necessary to the proper experts.
  10. Set boundaries with your clients, professional colleagues, and others you associate with often.  
  11. Obtain professional liability insurance. You might not need it, but it is recommended

(These guidelines apply to both self-employed coaches and those working as employees within an organization).

Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards help certified health coaches set the foundation for their coaching relationships.  Also, adhering to these ethical guidelines and standards will enable you to protect your coaching business as you strive to support your clients effectively. 

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Margaret K. Olubiyi
Life Coach
Writer, Coaches Training Blog community

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