An often overlooked ethical consideration for coaches

Posted on: 23 Nov 2023

Few coaches are aware of the ethical considerations that arise when coaching family, friends, and in some cases, colleagues. Those who are aware usually have become so because they have learnt from experience.


Professional codes of ethics like those of the ICF and the Global Code of Ethics specifically address the management of conflicts of interest. Yet most coaches tend to view this issue predominantly through a financial lens and fail to recognise the more subtle conflicts of interest that can arise when coaching family, friends and colleagues.


According to the ICF Code of Ethics a conflict of interest is a situation that invoives “multiple interests where serving one interest could work against or be in conflict with another. This could be financial, personal or otherwise”, and, as coaches, we need to be “sensitive to the implications of having multiple contracts and relationships with the same Client(s) and Sponsor(s) at the same time in order to avoid conflict of interest situations”. Similarly, the Global Code of Ethics specifies that “to avoid any conflict of interest, members will clearly distinguish a professional relationship with a client from other forms of relationships”.


The reality is, however, that being sensitive to the implications of multiple relationships and clearly distinguishing the coaching relationship from other forms of relationship can be somewhat blurry and challenging in practice.



For this reason, ReciproCoach runs a Special Gift Coaching round once or twice a year to give ReciproCoaches the opportunity to give coaching to a loved one without risking the ethical implications. As a participant in Special Gift Coaching (2023/12), you are entitled to give your assigned coach to a loved one. This could be your partner, sibling, parent, adult child, best friend or anyone with whom you already share another relationship that might impact or be impacted by a coaching relationship. Instead of coaching your loved one yourself, you can avoid potential conflicts of interest by gifting them the services of a ReciproCoach to coach them for you, while you coach that coach’s loved one in return.


(Registrations close Sunday, December 17)


Before you register, please make sure that your loved one actually wants to receive the coaching and understands that the round requires them to receive 4 x 60min sessions in return for you committing to giving 4 x 60min sessions to another ReciproCoach’s loved one. Please note this round is open to coaches with 100+ client coaching hours.


Spreading coaching that little bit further,

Kerryn Griffiths, PhD, PCC

Global ReciproCoach Coordinator