Practise humility in coaching ethics


Erik de Haan & Annette Bienfait
The Coaching Psychologist , 2022

Making use of real-life cases that have come before an ethics board, we study the differences between an ethics of trust and an ethics of fear. We argue that an ethics of trust is worth implementing, and we give examples of what a trusting ethics means in practice. Such an ethics of trust starts from the premise that no practitioner willingly does wrong, that is, our intentions as helpers tend to be very well-meaning and ethical. However, coaching psychology tells us that our intention does not always match how we come across, for example, retrospectively, when ethical committees scrutinise our work. Despite being fearful of not practicing ethically, we may still fall short of doing so. One reason is that fear is not always a good guide and can make us cautious, protective, withholding: not necessarily a better coach. Another reason is that with practice we grow our self-confidence and seniority, and they may delude us into thinking that we are more ethical than how others experience us. We believe that it is helpful to be warned that coaches are much more vulnerable to unethical behaviour than we believe we are. We argue how an ethics of trust can nevertheless be built on our humility, coaching qualifications, and ongoing supervision.

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Practise humility in coaching ethics