Coaching & Counselling – Commitment to Ethics

As an ICF Coach and Member, I adhere to the ICF Code of Ethics.  As a student member of ACCT, I adhere to the ACCT Code of Ethics.

For your reference, I have stated them both here:


ICF is committed to maintaining and promoting excellence in coaching. Therefore, ICF expects all members and credentialed coaches (coaches, coach mentors, coaching supervisors, coach trainers or students), to adhere to the elements and principles of ethical conduct: to be competent and integrate ICF Core Competencies effectively in their work.

In line with the ICF core values and ICF definition of coaching, the Code of Ethics is designed to provide appropriate guidelines, accountability and enforceable standards of conduct for all ICF Members and ICF Credential-holders, who commit to abiding by the following ICF Code of Ethics:

Part One: Definitions

Coaching: Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.

ICF Coach: An ICF coach agrees to practice the ICF Core Competencies and pledges accountability to the ICF Code of Ethics.

Professional Coaching Relationship: A professional coaching relationship exists when coaching includes an agreement (including contracts) that defines the responsibilities of each party.

Roles in the Coaching Relationship: In order to clarify roles in the coaching relationship it is often necessary to distinguish between the client and the sponsor. In most cases, the client and sponsor are the same person and are therefore jointly referred to as the client. For purposes of identification, however, the ICF defines these roles as follows:

Client: The “Client/Coachee is the person(s) being coached.

Sponsor: The “sponsor” is the entity (including its representatives) paying for and/or arranging for coaching services to be provided. In all cases, coaching engagement agreements should clearly establish the rights, roles and responsibilities for both the client and sponsor if the client and sponsor are different people.

Student: The “student” is someone enrolled in a coach training program or working with a coaching supervisor or coach mentor in order to learn the coaching process or enhance and develop their coaching skills.

Conflict of Interest: A situation in which a coach has a private or personal interest sufficient to appear to influence the objective of his or her official duties as a coach and a professional.

Part Two: The ICF Standards of Ethical Conduct

Section 1: Professional Conduct at Large
As a coach, I:

1) Conduct myself in accordance with the ICF Code of Ethics in all interactions, including coach training, coach mentoring and coach supervisory activities.

2) Commit to take the appropriate action with the coach, trainer, or coach mentor and/or will contact ICF to address any ethics violation or possible breach as soon as I become aware, whether it involves me or others.

3) Communicate and create awareness in others, including organizations, employees, sponsors, coaches and others, who might need to be informed of the responsibilities established by this Code.

4) Refrain from unlawful discrimination in occupational activities, including age, race, gender orientation, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin or disability.

5) Make verbal and written statements that are true and accurate about what I offer as a coach, the coaching profession or ICF.

6) Accurately identify my coaching qualifications, expertise, experience, training, certifications and ICF Credentials.

7) Recognize and honor the efforts and contributions of others and only claim ownership of my own material. I understand that violating this standard may leave me subject to legal remedy by a third party.

8) Strive at all times to recognize my personal issues that may impair, conflict with or interfere with my coaching performance or my professional coaching relationships. I will promptly seek the relevant professional assistance and determine the action to be taken, including whether it is appropriate to suspend or terminate my coaching relationship(s) whenever the facts and circumstances necessitate.

9) Recognize that the Code of Ethics applies to my relationship with coaching clients, coachees, students, mentees and supervisees.

10) Conduct and report research with competence, honesty and within recognized scientific standards and applicable subject guidelines. My research will be carried out with the necessary consent and approval of those involved, and with an approach that will protect participants from any potential harm. All research efforts will be performed in a manner that complies with all the applicable laws of the country in which the research is conducted.

11) Maintain, store and dispose of any records, including electronic files and communications, created during my coaching engagements in a manner that promotes confidentiality, security and privacy and complies with any applicable laws and agreements.

12) Use ICF Member contact information (email addresses, telephone numbers, and so on) only in the manner and to the extent authorized by the ICF.

Section 2: Conflicts of Interest
As a coach, I:

13) Seek to be conscious of any conflict or potential conflict of interest, openly disclose any such conflict and offer to remove myself when a conflict arises.

14) Clarify roles for internal coaches, set boundaries and review with stakeholders conflicts of interest that may emerge between coaching and other role functions.

15) Disclose to my client and the sponsor(s) all anticipated compensation from third parties that I may receive for referrals of clients or pay to receive clients.

16) Honor an equitable coach/client relationship, regardless of the form of compensation.

Section 3: Professional Conduct with Clients
As a coach, I:

17) Ethically speak what I know to be true to clients, prospective clients or sponsors about the potential value of the coaching process or of me as a coach.

18) Carefully explain and strive to ensure that, prior to or at the initial meeting, my coaching client and sponsor(s) understand the nature of coaching, the nature and limits of confidentiality, financial arrangements, and any other terms of the coaching agreement.

19) Have a clear coaching service agreement with my clients and sponsor(s) before beginning the coaching relationship and honor this agreement. The agreement shall include the roles, responsibilities and rights of all parties involved.

20) Hold responsibility for being aware of and setting clear, appropriate and culturally sensitive boundaries that govern interactions, physical or otherwise, I may have with my clients or sponsor(s).

21) Avoid any sexual or romantic relationship with current clients or sponsor(s) or students, mentees or supervisees. Further, I will be alert to the possibility of any potential sexual intimacy among the parties including my support staff and/or assistants and will take the appropriate action to address the issue or cancel the engagement in order to provide a safe environment overall.

22) Respect the client’s right to terminate the coaching relationship at any point during the process, subject to the provisions of the agreement. I shall remain alert to indications that there is a shift in the value received from the coaching relationship.

23) Encourage the client or sponsor to make a change if I believe the client or sponsor would be better served by another coach or by another resource and suggest my client seek the services of other professionals when deemed necessary or appropriate.

Section 4: Confidentiality/Privacy
As a coach, I:

24) Maintain the strictest levels of confidentiality with all client and sponsor information unless release is required by law.

25) Have a clear agreement about how coaching information will be exchanged among coach, client and sponsor.

26) Have a clear agreement when acting as a coach, coach mentor, coaching supervisor or trainer, with both client and sponsor, student, mentee, or supervisee about the conditions under which confidentiality may not be maintained (e.g., illegal activity, pursuant to valid court order or subpoena; imminent or likely risk of danger to self or to others; etc) and make sure both client and sponsor, student, mentee, or supervisee voluntarily and knowingly agree in writing to that limit of confidentiality. Where I reasonably believe that because one of the above circumstances is applicable, I may need to inform appropriate authorities.

27) Require all those who work with me in support of my clients to adhere to the ICF Code of Ethics, Number 26, Section 4, Confidentiality and Privacy Standards, and any other sections of the Code of Ethics that might be applicable.

Section 5: Continuing Development
As a coach, I:

28) Commit to the need for continued and ongoing development of my professional skills.

Part Three: The ICF Pledge of Ethics
As an ICF coach, I acknowledge and agree to honor my ethical and legal obligations to my coaching clients and sponsors, colleagues, and to the public at large. I pledge to comply with the ICF Code of Ethics and to practice these standards with those whom I coach, teach, mentor or supervise.

If I breach this Pledge of Ethics or any part of the ICF Code of Ethics, I agree that the ICF in its sole discretion may hold me accountable for so doing. I further agree that my accountability to the ICF for any breach may include sanctions, such as loss of my ICF Membership and/or my ICF Credentials.


ACCT Code of Ethics


The Association of Cooperative Counselling Therapists of Canada (ACCT) is dedicated to providing the highest standards of professional counselling and consulting services. ACCT Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice provides guidelines and standards for Registered Therapeutic Counsellors, RTC to pursue excellence in providing their professional services.

ACCT Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice provide a moral framework for making decisions when ethical dilemmas arise. It is not possible to anticipate or regulate every ethical dilemma and reasonable differences of opinion can and do exist in regard to ethical decisions. Therefore, these guidelines are intended to be used as part of an ethical decision-making process, including consulting with knowledgeable resources, such as ACCT Ethics committee, trusted colleagues, research, or other reliable sources. These guidelines and standards do not take the place of legal advice, which must be obtained from a lawyer. It is also important to consider personal values and whether they may in any way unfairly bias one’s perceptions and decision-making.

Members of ACCT have a responsibility to ensure that they are familiar with the ACCT Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice and strive to adhere to its principles and values. In addition, the ACCT Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice provides enforceable rules and behavioural expectations with which RTCs must comply, and for which sanctions may be applied for non‐compliance. These standards address the application of ethical principles to specific areas of practice.

Members are accountable to the public as well as their peers and may therefore be subject to the complaints and disciplinary procedures of the ACCT. Violations of the ACCT Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, however, do not automatically imply legal liability. Such a determination can only be made by legal and judicial proceedings. This peer review process is intended to enable ACCT to advise and to discipline its members in response to substantiated complaints originating either with peers or the public.

The law and professional standards usually complement each other. However, the law generally is considered to take precedence over professionally defined standards should they conflict, and should one choose to disobey the law on grounds of conscience, personal choice and risk are involved. ACCT encourages its members to carefully consider the implications of any such decisions and consult as widely as the situation demands.

ACCT Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice may require a higher standard of behaviour than required by the law. Practice guidelines, position statements, special guidelines, etc, support counsellors in providing competent and ethical practice in specific areas of practice, and while they may help to define competency they are not binding or enforceable by themselves.

Ethical Principles

ACCT Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice is based on the following fundamental principles. These principles are of equal importance.

Responsible Caring
Being proactive in promoting the client’s best interests
Honouring commitments to clients and maintaining integrity in the counselling relationship
Do No harm
Refraining from actions that risk harm
Respecting the rights of clients to self-determination
Respecting the dignity and just treatment of all persons
Social Responsibility
Respecting the need to be responsible to society
Ethical Decision-Making

This summary of ethical decision-making is intended to offer counsellors some direction when making ethical decisions and resolving ethical dilemmas.

1. Quick Decision-Making

A) Public Knowledge – Would I feel comfortable with this decision if it were to become public knowledge?

B) Justice – Is this decision fair and reasonable for all who are involved?

C) Universality – Would other counsellors make this same decision? If they did, would that be a good thing? Would I make this same decision for any of my clients?

2. Principle-Based Ethical Decision-Making

A) Consider the key ethical issues in the situation.

B) Consider the ACCT Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice and how those standards are relevant to this situation.

C) Consider which of the six ethical principles are of major importance in this situation. Also secure additional information, consult with knowledgeable colleagues or the ACCT Ethics committee and consider the probable outcomes of various courses of action.

D) Consider how the relevant ethical principles can be applied in this circumstance and how any conflict between principles could be resolved and what might be the potential risks and benefits of this application and resolution.

E) Consider what your feelings and intuitions are telling you to do in this situation.

F) Choose the plan of action that would be most helpful in this situation.

3. Virtue-Based Ethical Decision-Making

Based on the belief that counsellors are motivated to be virtuous and caring. There is no step-by-step methodology for virtue ethics. The following questions may help the counsellor in the process of virtue-based ethical decision-making:

A) As I consider this ethical dilemma, what are my emotions and intuitions telling me to do?

B) How can I use my values to best show caring for the client in this situation?

C) How will my choice and decision affect other individuals involved in this ethical dilemma?

D) If I had to publicize my decision, what decision would I make?

E) What decision would my best self make?

Code of Ethics
As a Registered Therapeutic Counsellor (also includes Master Therapeutic Counsellor and Registered Counselling Supervisor) and member of ACCT I commit:

To protect the welfare of my clients and make reasonable efforts to ensure my services are used appropriately.
To treat all clients with respect and unconditional acceptance.
To consistently complete a comprehensive assessment at the beginning of the counselling relationship.
To never exploit a clients trust and to avoid dual relationships.
To report the sexual or physical abuse of a child to the authorities.
To avoid overt or suggested sexual contact with clients and former clients.
To terminate counselling services when appropriate or requested by the client(s).
To respect the right of clients to autonomy.
To provide a private and safe setting for counselling.
To request payment for service, only after consent for service has been given.
To ensure proper self-care.
To maintain healthy boundaries with clients.
To obtain assistance and refer clients when appropriate.
To clearly disclose confidentiality limitations, facts about services offered and financial policies.
To be aware of and comply with relevant laws for the delivery of counseling services, including electronic services.
To maintain client confidentiality, except where there is written consent, danger to self or others or as required by law.
To carefully assess, develop a safety plan, and document the potential suicidal or homicidal behavior by a client.
To maintain accurate and adequate session and financial records.
To continue to grow and develop as a professional counsellor.
To avoid conflicts of interest.
To avoid giving or receiving gifts of substantial value.
To be aware of the influence my public statements may have.
To deal appropriately with the unethical behaviour of another counsellor.
To accept that I cannot realistically expect to succeed with every client.
To promote my services professionally and accurately.

0 1078