Creating Client Coaching Contracts – Part one

Although contracting is an essential part of the coaching relationship with your client many new Coaches struggle to know what to include. In this short series of articles I will share some ideas and tips to help you work out what will work for you.

In this first article let me first clarify that contracting in coaching is not really used in the legal sense of the word. If you want to have legally binding contracts you would need to consult a legal specialist.

So what is contracting in coaching?

You are basically setting up a set of agreements to ensure that your coaching is professional, effective and supports the coaching relationship. It will include on one end of the spectrum your terms and conditions and on the other agreements about the coaching relationship.

As a Coach becoming skilled at the use of contracts is essential and this is evidenced in my Supervision groups and individual Supervision sessions. The most common cause of problems for new Coaches is ineffective contracting. I remember one of my early mentors, Julie Hay stating a truism that I use today with my students:

“The work is in the Contract”

There are many elements of the contract that will remain constant throughout your coaching practice, other elements will need “tweaking” to suit a particular client.

Other elements of your contract will be co-created with your client and will be focused on the client’s situation and desired outcomes.

You may already have some great contracting frameworks that you follow and it is still worth reviewing regularly to ensure that you are maintaining best practice.

It is worth mentioning that the term “contracting” can be off putting to some clients so although we will use the term contracting here you may choose to re-frame labels. There is certainly some benefit to separating out the different types of contracting. You also need to be clear which parts of the contract are non-negotiable and which will be defined in partnership with your client.

Over the coming weeks I will include the following elements:

  • The business aspect of the contract including Terms and Conditions.
  • Professional boundaries and responsibilities.
  • The importance of multi-cornered contracts
  • The relationship contract, client’s outcomes (goals) and tasking.

 If you want to get started right away you may want to check out the websites of Association for Coaching, International Coaching Federation and European Mentoring and Coaching Council. They have a lot of great resources although you may need to be a member to access some of them.

Let me know if you have any particular questions about Contracting that you would like me to address.

Melody Cheal MSc MAPP
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