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In this session, we will focus on explaining why it is important to establish ground rules for engagement and boundaries in a coaching relationship.
During the introductory meeting, it is important to clarify the expectations or ‘ground rules’ for the coaching relationship. This ensures that the relationship remains on track and that both parties are aware of the expectations and the purpose of the sessions. Ultimately we need to ensure that you are coaching the right people who actually need coaching. Clarifying expectations allows us to take on the right clients.

There are many ground rules that can be applied to a coaching session however, you will find that it is best to stick to the basics. 

These are:

1. Confidentiality
It is the role of the coach to explain that the content of all coaching sessions are confidential and that nothing will be discussed with any other party. If the client wishes to discuss the session with another individual then that is their choice but you will never break this rule. The idea of this session is for the client to be honest with you and also with themselves without having the fear of these discussions being leaked to another party

2. Non-judgemental
The coach will never judge the client but challenge them to achieve goals

3. Commitment
Commitment must be shown by both parties, actions may be agreed during the meetings and these need to be completed as appropriate. Also coaching sessions need to be held when they are agreed, these should not be cancelled without a very important reason. Coaching will not work if there is no commitment

4. Communication
When a meeting is agreed (this could be in person or over the phone) we both need to be ready and focused on the meeting. Things do come up and we need to implement timely and effective communication when this is the case

5. Support
As a coach you are not able to tell the client what they should do, your role is to encourage and question the decisions made so that you can be sure they are on the right track.

If we stick to these basics, we should have a fruitful coaching relationship.


It is important that the coaching relationship remains professional throughout and that this doesn’t become too formal. During the introductory meeting you will have established the aims and outcomes of the coaching sessions and this should be used as a guide to the sessions. At no point should the coach enter into advice (this is mentoring), where it is identified that advice is required then the client should be referred to the appropriate individual/organisation to supply this, some guidance to this is below:

• Financial – Citizens Advice Bureau
• Medical – NHS direct or GP
• Bullying and harassment – HR or relevant management team

At no point should the coach become a counsellor.