Coaching Certification Discussions on Confidentiality

The ICF Code of Ethics states, “I will maintain the strictest levels of confidentiality with all client and sponsor information.  I will have a clear agreement or contract before releasing information to another person, unless required by law.”

What is the strictest level of confidentiality?  Consider the discussion on record-keeping: if notes from the coaching session are on a company computer, does that ensure the client has the opportunity to agree to the release of the information to the company before the company can access the notes?  If a company email address is used, does that afford the client the opportunity to say whether the company can access the information?  If the coaching notes are on a company computer or a company email is used, then the client must agree to this first.  Will that limit their openness in coaching and possibly limit the benefits of the coaching relationship?

What if the company (sponsor) paying for the coaching, wants the coach to tell them everything?  The client must agree in advance.

What if the client says they plan to quit their job and they do not want that disclosed?  The coach may not disclose it.

What if the coach is an employee in the Human Resources department of the company and keeps records on everything?  The coach must have the client agree in advance.  In many companies, the HR team defines specific parameters for coaching wherein the notes are kept on paper or a personal computer and the HR employee keeps them in their briefcase or at home.

As a coach, determine what you will do and how then ensure the sponsor knows, the client knows, and that everyone agrees in advance.

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