Any kind of two- or multi-party engagement begins with some targets, timelines and other agreed-upon factors such as remuneration. Since it is a valid legal document, a contract serves as a protection for all concerned parties in instances of violation of its terms and conditions.
A coaching contract allows the coach and client to list down agreements that ensure both parties understand and agree to those and embark upon or renew a professional relationship.
However, many a coach has entered an engagement without a contract. And as a coach, you might not be armed with detailed knowledge of the legalities that go into making a good coaching contract or a flawless coaching agreement.
To that end, here’s a comprehensive list of clauses you should include in your coaching contract:
1. Outline client-coach details
Your coaching contract template must include basic information about the client as well as the coach, including the office/ residential address, email address, phone numbers, and so on. To draw an analogy, think about a rent agreement between the tenant and the house owner.
2. Define coaching goals
This forms the core of your coaching contract: What does your client expect to learn from the coaching exercise? These expectations must be in-line with your services and offerings and also agreed upon by you. Similarly, your targets and desired outcome must form a part of this goals clause. Goals can be both short- and long-term and public (like performance goals that can be disclosed to the coaching sponsor) as well as private (like confidence goals that are strictly confidential between you and the client). If you haven’t agreed upon the goals yet, or want to remain fluid, you can avoid going into granular details. Additional information on how to measure these goals and create a feedback loop is also vital.
3. Define the expectations
Most clients are unaware of what coaching exactly is. In an interview with Simply.Coach, Pradip Sarin (a PCC Certifies Coach and the Co-founder of NEWVER.ME) shared that his first reaction when his bank organized a coaching session for him was one of surprise. He thought “why? I don’t need someone to tell me how to do my job.” But it was only when he started the engagement with his coach that he realized how it would add value to his life.
It’s, therefore, very important to explain what coaching is to your clients early on, and also explain how it differs from similar professions such as mentoring, consulting, or therapy. The coaching agreement helps set these boundaries in a formal way to protect both your expectations.
4. Set clear boundaries
A coach-client relationship is primarily professional in nature. Setting a proper boundary regarding why, when and how a client may get in touch with you over the course of the program is crucial. It’s the coach’s responsibility to create an amicable environment for his/ her clients and it’s up to the client to respect the contractual boundaries when it comes to contacting the coach outside of sessions.
Setting the boundary may also include the duration of the program, beyond which you may not be liable to offer any guidance.
5. Define the scope of your services
A good coaching contract must incorporate a clause that specifies the services the client is entitled to receive and how (e.g.: online or offline). Through this coaching agreement clause, you can seamlessly establish your responsibilities as a coach and help set client expectations right from the outset of the program. For instance, if you are a life coach dealing with post-trauma recovery, your clients must not confuse you with a mental health professional.
Although life coaches aren’t licensed health professionals, there are certain legal requirements attached to the role.Read our blog to know about the legal requirements of a life coach!
6. Client responsibility
Coaching is a two-way street. This clause in your coaching contract upholds accountability for your clients in working alongside youin making the coaching engagement a success, getting feedback in the right spirit, working upon their weaknesses, all with an eye to accomplishing their goals.
The coaching journey and all content and information shared should be confidential between a coach and a client. It is best practice to include such a clause in your coaching contract even if it is not strictly legally bound. It builds trust in both parties and makes the relationship and journey ahead smoother.
8. Schedule and payment
Payment terms and conditions form the backbone of any coaching contract and is one of the key items in the document. To avoid any kind of hassle in the future, one should always lay down remuneration details, frequency and method of payment, next steps in the case of delayed payments, number of sessions agreed upon, and other terms such as advance payment.
9. Cancellation and refund policy
Although every engagement begins with great intent, there may be some unforeseen circumstances that could lead to the termination of a contract midway. Any party is free to terminate the coaching agreement, but that might involve financial implications like cancellation fees. Detailing out such items in a coaching contract makes it seamless for both parties to exit the engagement. This saves time, effort and mental agony.
To safeguard one’s professional services and brand, a coach may choose to add a disclaimer in the contract that states that the coach won’t be held accountable if in any case, the client does not follow coaching guidance and is not able to reap the desired benefits.
With Simply.Coach, you can now create, organize and manage contracts for every client in one place. You can create your coaching agreement from the ready coaching contract templates (including contracts adhering to ICF specifications) or create your own from scratch, and have it digitally signed by the client and stored against his/her profile if needed for future reference.
Sources: Clevermemo, Growthecoach, Quenza, Contracts Counsel
1. What should a coaching contract include?
A coaching contract should include the following:
- Client-coach information
- Coaching goals
- Service outline
- Client responsibility
- Confidentiality and code of ethics
- Scheduling and payment details
- Cancellation and refund policy
2. What are the characteristics of a coaching contract?
A coaching contract is an understanding that the coach and the client enter into for a pre-determined duration. Hence, it should reflect certain characteristics such as:
- Being clear and bringing clarity to otherwise subjective areas of a coaching engagement
- Agreed upon by both parties with regards to the terms and conditions of the coaching agreement
- Being realistic – don’t vouch for something you can’t deliver
- Being negotiable
- Being thorough, mentioning all the necessary details such as duration, time, etc.
- Entered upon based on mutual trust
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