A clock and some work items representing time between sessions

Between Sessions. Creating Coaching Contracts, Part 4

Creating Client Coaching Contracts – Preventing Soft Boundaries between sessions

Last time I shared with you some thoughts about soft boundaries within coaching sessions. I promised we would look at preventing soft boundaries between sessions, so here it is.

The most common soft boundary between sessions is about contact. Many new Coaches either make themselves totally available between sessions or keep messaging clients between sessions to see how they are doing.

I want to talk to you about the second one first. You became a Coach because you care and maybe you see checking in with your client as being supportive. To some extent, it is supportive however if you have not contracted between session contact it may have a different outcome.

It can go a couple of ways. If you keep checking on the client it may appear that you (the Coach) are needy. Your client may find your checking in a bother. You may even lose the client.

Alternatively, you could be setting up an over-dependency relationship. Your client may become over-attached to you and unable to function effectively without your support. The relationship will begin to blur and you could be disempowering your client.

So what about when the client is wanting contact between sessions?

Some clients may be looking for dependency and if there is no contract in place about between sessions contact they may ring, text, email or message you out of hours. If you have always answered right away the client may become anxious if you don’t respond to a message. Some even become angry if they perceive you have ignored them. If you have soft boundaries between sessions and have a lot of clients you could find yourself on call 24/7. It will not be good for your well-being or for your client.

You may also end up doing a lot of “free” coaching. This is not good for your business, you are entitled to be paid for your time and expertise.

Luckily the solution for this is simple. Include in your contracting clear rules about between session contact. This can include hours of business, charges for anything that takes longer than five minutes to respond to and that you may not respond right away. You can contract specific contact such as asking the client to email you their goals.

How much contact you have with clients between sessions is really up to you. If you want contact between sessions just contract it clearly. Include the medium, response times and when your office is closed.

There may be other between session boundary issues that can crop up. If you are struggling with any type of boundary issue do remember that this is the type of thing your Supervisor can help you with.

Do let me know your thoughts on between sessions contact and get in touch with me directly if you need support.

Melody Cheal MSc MAPP
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