Firewalking Institute of Research and Education
The Center of our Logo, with permission of Charles Horton 2018
Life Coaching vs. Therapy:
Life coaches must be aware of and strictly adhere to the appropriate role of a life coach. Life coaches are not licensed health care providers or therapists and must not provide medical advice, engage in patient diagnosis, or practice therapy. They do not treat or otherwise counsel those with mental illness.
Life coaches are obligated to refer clients in need of mental or physical health therapy to an appropriate licensed professional.
While counselors or therapists often deal with a patient’s mental/emotional conditions and/or processing trauma, a life coach never addresses such issues. The role of a life coach, in its most simple form, is to encourage, coach and/or act as a facilitator of a client’s self-reflection, decision making, planning for the future, and creating life changes. While clear boundaries exist between coaching and therapy, due to the legal obligations and requirements for practicing therapy, there are many similarities. Both therapists and coaches work one-on-one with clients in an ongoing relationship. Certain psychological principles and theoretical frameworks are used in both therapy and coaching in order to facilitate positive life change.
Under no circumstances should a life coach refer to themselves as a therapist, refer to what they do as therapy, or practice as a mental health counselor or therapist without the required Master’s level degree and license.
Coaching Ethics and Standards: Although there are no official legal ethical governing body for life coaches, the industry standard is to follow the guidelines set forth for therapists and psychologists.
Is facilitation really so distinct from other fields and disciplines?
Many points of intersection exist between facilitation and other fields such as education, adult education, organization development, coaching and presentation. There are, however, some very important differences in the outcomes being sought, and therefore the mindset, tools, and frameworks adopted to achieve desired results.
Facilitation is leading a group (from 5 to 500) through guided processes towards desired outcomes with as much participation, creativity and productivity as possible, to achieve results all understand, have appropriately contributed to, and accept. The results are generated by participants with no input from the facilitator. About 20% of a facilitator’s time is devoted to neutrally guiding a group through structured process vs. 80% listening/involving.
Coaching is guiding an individual through focused questions and conversation to enable insight, personal learning and improved performance and achievement of goals. A good coach spends about 10% of their time asking questions and as much as 90% listening, mirroring, reflecting back.
Education, instruction and training use different methods and activities to assist learners to acquire knowledge and develop new skills, behaviours, and attitudes. The best practices of active learning suggest that about 50% of an instructor’s time is devoted to imparting content vs. 50% on inviting co-learning and student interaction. (Note: The adoption of facilitative methods greatly contributes to the instructors ability to design and deliver engaging learning programs.)
Presenting is about sharing information and wisdom. About 80% of a presenter’s time is spent in one-way telling vs. 20% listening or engaging participants.
Standards of Ethical Conduct
Professional Conduct At Large
As a coach:
I will not knowingly make any public statements that are untrue or misleading, or make false claims in any written documents relating to the coaching profession.
As a trainer or supervisor of current and potential coaches, I will conduct myself in accordance with the CCF Code of Ethics in all training and supervisory situations.
I will accurately create, maintain, store and dispose of any records of work done in relation to the practice of coaching in a way that promotes confidentiality and complies with any applicable laws.
Members shall always be honest about the nature of their titles and degrees when referring to them to the general public, the media, and within the confines of our profession.
Colleagues: Members shall treat other coaches without public defamation.
Professional Conduct with Clients
I will be responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries that govern any physical contact that I may have with my clients.
I will not become sexually involved with any of my clients.
I will construct clear agreements with my clients, and will honor all agreements made in the context of professional coaching relationships.
I will ensure that, prior to or at the initial session, my coaching client understands the nature of coaching, the bounds of confidentiality, financial arrangements and other terms of the coaching agreement.
I will respect the client's right to terminate coaching at any point during the process. I will be alert to indications that the client is no longer benefiting from our coaching relationship.
If I believe the client would be better served by another coach, or by another resource, I will encourage the client to make a change.
Client Welfare: Members shall make the physical and mental well-being of each client a prime consideration.
Client Safety: Members shall not engage in verbal, physical or emotional abuse of any client.
Practice Limits: Members shall coach each client within the limits of their training and competence and in conformity to the laws of their state or province.
Reasonable Practice: Members shall withhold coaching if a client's behavior, appearance or statements would lead a reasonable person to believe that the client should be evaluated by a licensed health care professional.
Conflicts of Interest
I will seek to avoid conflicts between my interests and the interests of my clients.