20 février 2020

The ICF’s Code of Ethics and your coaching practicepar Comité d’Éthique et Déontologie

At the heart of the coaching practice are your client’s objectives.

In order to better support their clients, coaches not only rely on their specific coaching training, but also on their professional conduct guidelines specified in the ICF Code of Ethics which describes the core values of the International Coach Federation, and ethical principles and ethical standards of behaviour for all ICF Professionals. Meeting these ICF ethical standards of behaviour is the first of the ICF core coaching competencies. That is “Demonstrates ethical practice: understands and consistently applies coaching ethics and standards.”

Our code is unique; it is the framework on which we rely to validate the coaching relationship, its purpose and its objectives. Our code is also a guide that sheds light on the decisions to be taken in the event of a dispute. To summarize, the standards dictated in the Code of Ethics aim to protect both the client and the coach.

The objective of this article is to assess your understanding of the code and how it affects and integrates into your coaching practice.

Here is a list of questions to help you in this process:

  • What is your overall understanding of the Code of Ethics?
  • When you read the Code, were there any ambiguities or elements that would need clarifications?
  • What do you avoid?
  • What are the questions that arise?

When you take a closer look at section 4 the “Ethical Standards”, what do you conclude on:

  • Your professional conduct in general: What confirms that your professional conduct is flawless?
  • Conflict of interest: What have you put in place to avoid any potential conflicts of interest?
  • Your professional conduct with your clients: How do you make sure you act professionally with your clients?
  • Confidentiality: What do you implement in your coaching relationships to guarantee confidentiality?
  • Personal, professional and ethical development: What and how do you plan for your continuing education?

Beyond including the Code of Ethics in your coaching agreements, do you make sure that:

  • Your clients read the Code?
  • Do you discuss the code with your client, answer their questions and address what it all means and how it affects the coaching relationship?

What is the outcome of your reflection? How will you do things differently now?

If you feel like it, share your ideas and decisions with us. We would be more than happy to pass it on to all members and thus, nourish the community with good ethical practices.

Also, if you need help with your questions or reflections, do not hesitate to contact us, we’ll be happy to assist you.

Your Ethical committee,

Nathalie Dubé

Lyne Leblanc

Mireille Nadeau


Comité d’Éthique et Déontologie ICF Québec