When taking notes during a coaching session, if the notes are on a company-owned computer is the information confidential? No. If the notes are sent on a company email address are they confidential? No. It is the obligation of the coach to protect the confidentiality of the client. The ICF Code of Ethics says: “I will maintain, store, and dispose of any records created during my coaching business in a manner that promotes confidentiality, security, and privacy, and complies with any applicable laws and agreements.”
While it would be nice to say that personal computers and emails cannot be hacked, the reality is they can. So the question becomes, How far does a coach go to protect confidentiality? Of course the basics apply: use a private computer and email, have password protection, secure your internet connection as much as possible. Talk with the client about the records – what is kept, how, and where.
The good news is that coaching is focused forward so the notes focus on goals, strategies, and action plans instead of personal problems. The bad news is that for clients in higher level positions, the secrecy of the strategies and plans is vital. This means that for coaches working at this level, ensuring confidentiality is absolutely crucial.
As a coach plan what records you keep, where you keep them, and how you share notes with clients. Then be completely transparent with your clients about your record keeping.