3 Challenging Ethical Situations with Technologies

Life Coaching

The choices coaches make for technologies to use in running their business, managing clients, note-taking, and collaboration must be informed by the Code of Ethics as explored in the previous blog.  Now consider these case studies:

  1. A coach took notes and emailed them to the client at work. A manager asked what was discussed with the client during coaching. The coach said it was confidential.  The manager went to the IT department and got the notes off the client’s company email on the computer.
  • Where can notes be kept? Because notes cannot be accessible by others, the options are a personal device or on pen and paper that the coach takes home with them.
  • When can client information be shared? When the client gives permission.  The exceptions to this are a threat of harm or an unreported crime.
  • What information can be shared with who? This is based on what is agreed to in advance or what the client says can be shared.
  1. A coach used an online platform for coaching sessions. The client had a firewall at work and was unable to use it.  The coach offered to meet on Skype.  The coach kept their phone with Siri nearby.
  • What do you want to consider when choosing technologies to use?For example, Skype requires you give them permission to access everything, having Siri or Alexa means there is a listening ear in the room.  GoTo allows people to call in without anyone know they are present.  While all online technologies have risk, some clearly state the parameters around confidentiality.
  • Which technologies do you think are secure?This can be challenging to determine!  While nothing is perfect some do seem safer than others.  Companies invest heavily in this so it may help to note their choices and the reasons for their choices.
  • Which technologies do you think pose risks?Top of the list here are technologies controlled by someone else and technologies that require you to give them access.
  1. A coach uses Zoom to meet with their clients. They chose to keep their cameras on.  The client noticed the coach’s reaction to what they said and apologized to the coach for the statement.
  • What are the pros of using cameras?Many coaches and clients like the idea of connection and seeing each other.
  • What are the cons?Sometimes the visual gets in the way because the client is paying attention to the coach’s response or because the coach understands based on what they see instead of what the client is saying.
  • How will you decide?Consider experimenting with both – often both coaches and clients find they value the alternative.  There may be times you are on camera and there may be times you are off camera.  It may be you choose to say hi on camera, go off camera for the session, then go on camera at the end to schedule your next session and say goodbye.

Technologies offer many options and opportunities for meeting with clients all over the world.  The key, as we all learn during coaching certification, is that we comply with our Code of Ethics and protect client confidentiality.

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