Ethics and Conflicts of Interest in Health and Wellness Coaching

One thing you’ll have to be very mindful of, as you enter a career in the Health and Wellness Coaching field, is the code of ethics, confidentiality and even possible conflicts of interest.

Though health coaching is not the same as a therapy or traditional ‘private counseling’ session, it does come with some intuitive guidelines as to confidentiality.  You may opt to use a confidentiality agreement form in your work with patients or clients as you establish rapport and develop a personalized health plan.  In any case, information a patient or client shares regarding their private lives should be treated with dignity and respect. That means, outside of the coaching session, their names should not be openly shared online, in written form or in informal conversations, to protect their privacy.

What about conflicts of interest?

When you embark on a career in health and wellness coaching, and particularly when you are in a health coaching program or wellness training program, you may be inclined to start coaching your friends and family.  It seems as though it would be helpful to them, and you now have a skill set that could help set them on the path to health.

Be careful.  When you begin to coach your mother-in-law or brother, or even your neighbor down the street, you are engaging in a conflict of interest.  Many times, very personal issues are revealed during coaching sessions. In order for the coaching relationship to be of value, the patient or client of the health coach should feel free to express all of their thoughts and feelings.

When you work with someone you are related to, or someone you see casually around your neighborhood or town, it could become awkward.  The coaching sessions may become of less value because deeper issues are being protected.  If deeper issues do come to light, the patient or client may become self-conscious or regretful for having shared the information.

Simply put, it is always best practice to begin a coaching relationship with a neutral party.  Confidentiality is also key to gaining trust in the health coach/client relationship.  Keep these in mind as you begin your career and establish your client base.

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