Record Keeping: What do you think? Ethical Challenges Series

Record Keeping

A coach keeps notes on paper and stores them in a locked file cabinet.  The coach’s house is broken into, the file cabinet is busted open, and the files thrown all over their lawn.  Or, on a similar note, the notes are on a computer and the computer is stolen.  The coach has completed their coach training and is a member of the ICF and accountable to the Code of Ethics. Record Keeping

Possible Responses regarding paper notes:

  • The coach cleans up their lawn themselves as soon as they discover it.
  • The coach asks neighbors to help so the clean-up is faster.
  • The coach cleans up everything and notifies their clients about what happened.
  • What else?

Possible Responses regarding computer notes:

  • The coach explains the confidential nature of the information on the computer to the police and asks for additional help.
  • The coach notifies the clients of the potential breach.
  • The coach lost their client information because it was on the computer so when clients contact the coach, the coach explains what happened.
  • What else?

Refer to the ICF Code of Ethics:

11) Maintain, store and dispose of any records, including electronic files and communications, created during my coaching engagements in a manner that promotes confidentiality, security and privacy and complies with any applicable laws and agreements.

potential value of the coaching process or of me as a coach.

24) Maintain the strictest levels of confidentiality with all client and sponsor information unless release is required by law.

25) Have a clear agreement about how coaching information will be exchanged among coach, client and sponsor.

26) Have a clear agreement when acting as a coach, coach mentor, coaching supervisor or trainer, with both client and sponsor, student, mentee, or supervisee about the conditions under which confidentiality may not be maintained (e.g., illegal activity, pursuant to valid court order or subpoena; imminent or likely risk of danger to self or to others; etc.) and make sure both client and sponsor, student, mentee, or supervisee voluntarily and knowingly agree in writing to that limit of confidentiality. Where I reasonably believe that because one of the above circumstances is applicable, I may need to inform appropriate authorities.


Q: How long do I have to keep client records?
A: There is no ICF guideline at this time. You should check your local and national laws and regulations for compliance guidelines. If you are audited for income taxes, be sure to protect confidentiality.

Q: How should I dispose of records?
A: To the best of your ability you should delete all online and electronic records, as well as shred paper records.

How do you recommend it be handled?


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