What is the difference between the ethics code for psychologists and the ethics code for coaches?

The best way to understand the professional code of coaching ethics is to go to the International Coaching Federation (2021) website and review their Code of Ethics. Psychologists abide by the Code of Ethics of the American Psychological Association (2021). The ethics code sets the guidelines and enforceable rules of conduct. 

Generally, the ethics codes of the two disciplines are very similar. This is not surprising as the fields of psychology and coaching have much in common. The most significant differences between the two ethics codes: 

● When creating the coaching agreement or contract, all parties’ roles, responsibilities, and rights must be clarified. This includes the coach, the client(s), and the client’s sponsor(s) [the entity (including its representatives) paying for and/or arranging or defining the coaching services to be provided] before the commencement of services 

● Having a clear understanding of how information is exchanged among all parties involved during all coaching interactions 

● When working as an Internal Coach (an individual who is employed within an organization and coaches either part-time or full-time the employees of that organization), they must manage conflicts of interest or potential conflicts of interest with coaching Clients and Sponsor(s) through coaching agreement(s) and ongoing dialogue. This should include addressing organizational roles, responsibilities, relationships, records, confidentiality, and other reporting requirements. 

● Am sensitive to the implications of having multiple contracts and relationships with the Client(s) and Sponsor(s) at the same time to avoid conflict of interest situations. 

The Code of Ethics for coaches clearly points out the importance of clarity and transparency with the different parties involved verbally and within the contract before the commencement of services. Psychologists also discuss how, when, or if their confidential information will ever be disclosed. 


American Psychological Association. (2021). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/ethics/code 

International Coaching Federation. (2021). Code of ethics. Retrieved from https://coachingfederation.org/code-of-ethics

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