ICF Code of Ethics – Disclosure, Research and Record-Keeping
By Vicki Escudé, M.A., M.C.C.
The ICF Code of Ethics takes on a richer meaning when it can be applied to specific situations with clarity. Almost every guideline has a gray area – a point needing interpretation.
Here are some questions that might arise in research, and in work within organizations and private practices regarding disclosure of information.
How would you answer these questions?
- I am coaching some executives in an organization. If I am coaching “Jane,” and her peer “Alice” requests coaching from me, do I need to let Alice know I am already coaching Jane?
- I am doing research within a university that will have implications for coaching. I have read that the ICF has standards for coaching-related research. What is the meaning of “applicable subject guidelines?”
- In keeping records of my work with clients, what are possible reasons someone else may need access to my records?
- How long do I keep client records?
- How do I dispose of records?
The answers to these questions are below.
The following answers are quoted from the ICF Code of Ethics Frequently Asked Questions, used with permission of the ICF. To find the full wording of the Codes, please refer to the Code of Ethics from the ICF website.
Code #4 is about conflict of interest and when to disclose information or terminate a coaching relationship. (Please refer to the Code of Ethics for the exact wording of this standard.)
Q: I am coaching Jane, and a peer of hers, Alice, requests me to be her coach. Do I need to let the Alice know I am already coaching Jane?
A: No you do not need to. Unless you have Alice’s consent, you may not even mention it. Be aware, however, that this could present conflicts with confidentiality. Potential general conflicts should be clarified with each party.
Code #6 deals with standards for conducting research and reporting, citing what standards are appropriate, and what laws must be followed. (Please refer to the Code of Ethics for the exact wording of this standard.)
Q: What are “applicable subject guidelines?”
A. Some universities have human subject guidelines when their students, employees, or faculty become subjects of a study. University guidelines may also apply for a candidate for a degree planning research.
Code #7 is about keeping records and storing information. (Please refer to the Code of Ethics for the exact wording of this standard.)
Q. Do I have to provide client records in case of subpoena or ethical complaint?
A. This will vary by country and jurisdiction, but generally, yes. Consider carefully what you put in your records.
Q. How long do I have to keep client records?
A. There is no ICF guideline at this time. You should check your local and national laws and regulations for compliance guidelines. If you are audited for income taxes, be sure to protect confidentiality.
Q. How should I dispose of records?
A. To the best of your ability you should delete all online and electronic records, as well as shred paper records.
If you have an ethics question that you would like to have answered, please let me know and I will initiate discussion and hopefully help you find clarity. Your questions will enhance our professional progress!
Warm regards, Vicki Escudé
VICKI ESCUDE, M.A., MCC, Mentor Coach, is a pioneer in the coaching profession, promoting the professionalism of coaching to several areas of the country for over 14 years. She was among the first coach educators for UTD, Success Unlimited Network®, LLC (SUN), and Strategic Executive Coaching Alliance (SECA). Escudé served on the Board of Directors for the ICF, and was Board Liaison to the Ethics Committee. She has subsequently been a member of the Ethics Committee for several years, and was on the subcommittee to develop the ICF Ethics’ FAQs. Escudé has an active executive coaching and corporate coach training practice, and is author of several coaching books: Getting Everything You Want! Coaching for Mastery; Create Your Day with Intention; and the soon-to-be published, Fast-Track Leader series.