This survey was implemented with the support of EMCC Global and published in January 2015 (https://www.emccbooks.org/product/research-ethical-dilemmas-in-coaching-today).

There is a lot of documentation about dilemmas in coaching. Dilemmas could be ethical or professional; they are the proof that we can still question the world around us, our work and capabilities, and our own thinking. The ways in which we address them can be the basis of our evolution as professionals, citizens, and human beings.

Some of the key findings of the survey:

  • 87% are over 45 years old
  • 34.3% men and 64.9% women
  • 71% of participants have a Masters or PhD
  • never had a dilemma in their coaching practice (7.3%)
  • had a dilemma in the last month (28%)
  • had a dilemma in the last six months (31.5%)
  • 72% had 1-4 dilemmas in the last 12 months (72%)

The participants were asked to choose up to three of their most recent dilemmas:

  • “managing own weaknesses” (39.6%)
  • “conflicting interests between sponsor and coachee” (33.2%)
  • “Working with a client who diverts from the goals that have been agreed with their sponsoring organization” (30%)
  • “Confidentiality issues in the organisational environment” (26.8%)
  • “Managing boundaries of the coaching profession” (25.9%)
  • “Managing relations in an organization” (24.7%)
  • The main root cause of dilemmas they declared is “Clash between my value system and the value system of my client” (42%)
  • The biggest risks of a wrong decision in handling a dilemma are:

“losing trust with the coachee or the sponsor” (47.8%)

“doing harm to the client’s development” (42.2%) and

“damage of my credibility as a professional” (40.2%)

  • Participants’ solution to handle dilemmas are:

“supervision” as first choice (72.3%)

“reflection on the issue” (62.9%)

and lower in the list of preference are “discussing / recontracting with the client” (45.4%) and “discussion with trusted colleagues” (42.2%).

  • if they faced a dilemma again, they would discuss it at supervision (79.5%).

Key conclusions of the survey

  • Coaches have dilemmas about their own weaknesses, conflicting interests, their clients’ changing goals, confidentiality and others which they prefer to manage with the support of supervision.
  • Dilemmas slightly differ between the genders and professional experience and seems that there is an almost steady percentage of people who never have dilemmas.
  • The type of dilemmas changes significantly over time; experienced coaches have different dilemmas from novice ones. Also, there are differences between the genders in the predominant dilemmas.
  • Clash of values between the coach and the coachee is the most common source of a dilemma.

You may find the full report with more interesting information and details in the Survey Study on Ethical Dilemmas in Coaching Today here .

You may contact me directly for more information, ideas and comments!

Published by Maria Biquet

Organisational Development Consultant Executive Coach / Neurocoaching Expert

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