With any helping professional such as coaching, we the professional, need to be always mindful of client/coach boundaries. Here are six areas you might find challenging:
- Your time-keeping – You are responsible for starting and finishing the session at the agreed times. Coaches sometimes find finishing the session on time difficult. Be mindful 10 minutes before the end and guide the client towards closure.
- Client time-keeping – Even with an agreed starting time, some clients find it difficult to arrive promptly. When this constantly happens, it is time to have a conversation with the client about their behaviour.
- When coaching becomes counselling – While coaching is present and future orientated, it can sometimes be relevant to identify links between past events and responses and current barriers. Once these links are made and accepted by the client, they can hopefully dissolve current barriers to their goal. Sometimes this isn’t possible. The timeliness of the link may be appropriate but the client may be unable to work with the link within coaching – in which case it may then be a counselling issue.
- When you share your experiences – Sharing a personal story related to the client’s journey can help the client find a tribe and reassurance. However before sharing, ask yourself if this is ego-driven from your part. If so leave the sharing. Should the sharing be appropriate for the client, share and move back quickly to the client’s issue.
- When the client shares ‘inappropriately’ – It may be that the coaching relationship is about the client’s career development and the goal for this particular session is about identifying transferable skills. Maybe the client then starts to share about workplace bullying that they have experienced. The conversation may be a passing issue. Or it may not be. Through questioning and listening you will need to identify how invasive the issue is and whether coaching is the right place to manage it.
- The coaching environment – The location you are working with your client in needs to be safe, relevant and without distraction. This is your responsibility.
Both clients and us need boundaries for structure and safety – yet bear in mind compassionate fluidity in your holding of this space.
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