We offer coaching, mentorship and training on healthy relationships,
emotional problems, changing beliefs and resolving
Professional coaching is built on agreements and contracts.
Coaching, Counseling & Therapy Contracts
Although your choice of a therapy or coaching style may be
made for you by an insurance company or a clinic, you can still ensure that it
is appropriate for you and your family. Good intentions, polite manners and a
positive outlook do not necessarily mean effective coaching with healthy consequences.
Most service providers clarify their conditions with detailed offers
and service contracts. Helping professionals who offer services such as life coaching,
marriage counseling and family therapy can follow similar rules.
Yet most therapy, counseling and coaching contracts seem to only specify that:
- a client must pay the practitioner
- a client must trust the practitioner
- a client must obey the practitioner
- the practitioner does not guarantee success
Read some internet advertisements for coaches, counselors and
therapists. You will find many offers such as increase love,
generate enthusiasm or create positive impact. You will
rarely find specific offers for specific changes. While this might be appropriate for
people who cannot make decisions, most people
seeking help can make healthy choices - if choices are offered.
How can you check which modality would be best
without learning all
methodologies? How can you check the effectiveness
of a coach,
counselor or therapist?
Ask for detailed offers and tests for success.
Clients are the experts about what they want - and about how
and when they want it. We offer
people many choices and we honor their choices. We help people
explore the likely consequences of their choices and check alternative
ways that they can achieve their goals.
More complex contracts may be required for clients who are
delegated by their family, teams or other organizations. Written
contracts ensure transparency and can be shared with all concerned
parties. The contract can specify what remains confidential and
what can be shared and how success can be tested.
Tests for Success
If you are enmeshed in transferences
or fixations or overwhelmed by
abuse or trauma,
you may be unable to define your goals. You may even be unable to describe
your complaints. You may hope that a coach, counselor or therapist can magically
provide you with relationship intelligence, clarity or emotional maturity.
Clarify what a coach, counselor or therapist actually offers. You may read or
hear abstract phrases, such as increase love, add
positive impact, generate enthusiasm or achieve enlightenment.
Ask for details, evidence of success and consequences.
Perhaps ask "How would I know if your offer of
increased love added to my positive impact?" (You may have to wade
through abstractions, psychobabble and medi-babble to understand
Or you can ask yourself,
"What exactly would convince me that I have generated enthusiasm
or achieved enlightenment, or whatever else was offered?" For
example, you might decide that you would be convinced if you can enjoy a healthy
partnership instead of shallow short-term affairs.
Check if you want that goal, and consider, once you achieve it -
what do you want next? If you have successfully increased your positive impact,
or whatever, what would you want to do with it?
Do coaches, counselors and therapists walk their talk - or stumble
their mumble? Which practitioners enjoy happy relationships? Which
practitioners show emotional stability and empathy when talking about
difficult issues? Which practitioners focus on your goals and success -
instead of their own theories? Who offers tests for your success?
Who discusses alternatives to their psycho-theologies?
Trust & Compliance
A therapy contract may require that you establish trust,
build rapport or accept openness
as if you may otherwise distrust, prevent rapport or tell lies.
Does a practitioner demand your trust - or work to earn your trust?
Sometimes, "You can trust me" is a way to say,
"Obey me without question!".
Beware if someone tries to take a parent
knows best attitude about your life. Beware if you are asked to do
things without explanation. Beware if a practitioner ignores the
potential consequences of your choices, or ignores
alternative ways that you can reach your goals.
(Most people do whatever is in their own best
interest. What could be the best interest of someone who wants to control
you? See Spiritual Abuse & Mentor Damage)
How long does it take?
Imagine a car mechanic who tells you "Just bring your
car in for an hour or
two every week until your engine is ready to change". Or a plumber
who says "I will intuit what is wrong with your water system and send
energy to your pipes in ways that you cannot possibly comprehend".
While you are much more complex than any mechanical system,
you risk being called a difficult client if you ask
for offers that include expected results, by when and how expensive. Get specific answers!
When should you fire a service provider?
Do you want to contribute to someone's income stream
for an indeterminate time? Discuss the end of a service at the
start. Be clear that you want choices and proof of success.
Resist prolonging paid friendship - learn to fly solo!
After a few of your sessions,
I said goodbye to my therapist of four years.
She helped me do so many
little things that I came to depend on her.
She was so nice to me ... I forgot that I was paying her
to be my Mom. Canada
Page 2: Effective Therapy & Coaching
It is true that well promoted, inefficient therapists may earn far more than those
whose clients achieve their desired goals in much shorter time frames.
Some people perceive therapy to be a waste of time and money.
The time to achieve a desired goal may seem interminable and
costly. There may also be a social stigma that people who need therapy
are weak, lazy or cannot cope with life challenges.
Sometimes paid friendship may be exactly what you want.
Do you want to feel understood, to feel accepted, to feel open without fear of
rejection or criticism? You may leave a session happy if what you really wanted was intelligent adult conversation about your important life
Offers & Outcomes
Coaching agreements help practitioners and clients define
coaching goals and therapy plans, and to test for success of defined goals.
You may be asked "What do you want?"
as if you know all possible choices and their consequences, and can choose
Some therapists believe that they can intuit your goals. They
may infer, "I know better than you what you want!"
We enquire into your situation and offer choices.
e.g. "Do you already know what you want; or do you want to
explore what possibilities exist; or do you want help with your emotions
until you can find your own way?"
Or maybe you have a better idea?"
Boundaries and Limits
Coaching, counseling or therapeutic relationships
can help you achieve your goals. Yet a friendly word can become a
touch, a touch can become a caress, and a practitioner can become
Maintaining boundaries is an essential part of healthy
relationships. Boundaries create a space for development and change, although
a contract cannot control a person's enmeshments, fixations or
fantasies. Despite good intentions, you may feel yourself drawn
outside your boundaries.
Contracts are boundaries! For example,
a contract may include or exclude massage or touching, meetings
outside sessions, sharing or withholding information and the
limits of confidentiality. The following questions provide useful feedback
for both practitioner and client.
- How might a practitioner avoid abusing a client?
- Which elements of a contract are merely
- Which elements of a contract are essential to
Coaching / Counseling / Therapy Contract A
contract ignores the client's goals, the practitioner's
role and the services to be offered.
This contract relieves a practitioner of
responsibility and denies both practitioner and client
opportunities to compare offers with results.
|I, <client's name> take
full responsibility for all actions that I take as a result
of coaching. I understand that <coach or therapist's name>
is not qualified to give legal, financial or medical advice.
I agree to:
- Generate my own solutions
- Take action daily toward my goals
- Be present and prepared for my coaching sessions
- Request what I need for coaching to be effective for me
- Be honest about my challenges and what I want to achieve
- Speak up immediately if anything bothers me about my coaching
I commit to work with <practitioner>
for a minimum of ... months, in ... sessions per calendar month,
from ... through ... I agree to pay the coming monthly fee by the
1st of each month.
Coaching / Counseling / Therapy Contract B
|This contract loosely defines how
a service may be provided.
This contract does not define any offer, nor criteria
Neither the practitioner nor client can determine if
most of the agreements are fulfilled ... except the payment.
|The coach, therapist or practitioner
1. I will not solve your problems.
2. I will work to help you make the changes that you choose
3. I will help you develop the skills you wish to master.
4. I will treat you with respect and consideration.
5. I will regularly review your progress.
6. I will keep your personal contact information private.
7. I will not disclose information about you
The client undertakes:
1. I take full responsibility for resolving my own problems.
2. I will be punctual for sessions and give notice of cancellation.
3. I will pay the session fee if I cancel a session with less
than 48 hours notice.
4. I will complete assigned exercises and homework
5. I will consult with a medical doctor if advised to do so
6. If I do not complete my work, my coaching may be terminated.
7. I will pay all fees, in full, at time of session or in
A useful coaching contract can include a schedule for
sessions, costs and payment terms, which topics to focus on and
which to avoid, and which services are chargeable. Coaching is more focused if
you have made careful
agreements about what people can
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Martyn Carruthers 2001-2018
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