TRS Relationship Coaching Professional Code of Ethics
The TRS Code of Ethics is adapted from the International Coaching Federation’s (ICF) Code of Ethics. We added specifications to describe the TRS core values, ethical principles and ethical standards of behavior for all TRS Professionals. TRS implemented the current version of the Code in July 2023.
The Code of Ethics is composed of four (4) main parts:
The TRS Code of Ethics describes the core values of The Relationship School, and ethical principles and ethical standards of behavior for all TRS Professionals (see definitions).
The TRS Code of Ethics serves to uphold the integrity of TRS and the global coaching profession by:
- Setting standards of conduct consistent with TRS core values and ethical principles.
- Guiding ethical reflection, education, and decision-making
- Adjudicating and preserving TRS coach standards through the Ethical Conduct Review (ECR) process
The TRS Code of Ethics applies when TRS Professionals represent themselves as such, in any kind of coaching-related interaction. This is regardless of whether a Coaching Relationship (see definitions) has been established. This Code articulates the ethical obligations of TRS Professionals who are acting in their different roles as coach, coach supervisor, trained mentor, trainer or student coach-in-training, or serving in a TRS Leadership role, as well as Support Personnel (see definitions).
Although the Ethical Conduct Review (ECR) process is only applicable to TRS Professionals, as is the Pledge, the TRS Staff are also committed to ethical conduct and the Core Values and Ethical Principles that underpin this TRS code of ethics.
The challenge of working ethically means that members will inevitably encounter situations that require responses to unexpected issues, resolution of dilemmas and solutions to problems. This Code of Ethics is intended to assist those persons subject to the Code by directing them to the variety of ethical factors that may need to be taken into consideration and helping to identify alternative ways of approaching ethical behavior.
TRS Professionals who accept the Code of Ethics strive to be ethical, even when doing so involves making difficult decisions or acting courageously.
- “Client”—the individual or team/group being coached, the coach being mentored or supervised, or the coach or the student coach being trained.
- “Coaching”—partnering with Clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
- “Coaching Relationship”—a relationship that is established by the TRS Professional and the Client(s)/Sponsor(s) under an agreement or a contract that defines the responsibilities and expectations of each party.
- “Code”—TRS Code of Ethics
- “Confidentiality”—protection of any information obtained around the coaching engagement unless consent to release is given.
- “Conflict of Interest”—a situation in which a TRS Professional is involved in multiple interests where serving one interest could work against or be in conflict with another. This could be financial, personal or otherwise.
- “Equality”—a situation in which all people experience inclusion, access to resources and opportunity, regardless of their race, ethnicity, national origin, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, religion, immigration status, mental or physical disability, and other areas of human difference.
- “TRS Professional”—individuals who represent themselves as a TRS Member or TRS Credential-holder, in roles including but not limited to Coach,Trained Mentor, and any individual enrolled in a coach training program
- “TRS Staff”— the individuals employed by TRS for the purposes of marketing, sales, course development and operations, student and customer relations, record keeping, human resources, etc.
- “Internal Coach”— an individual who is employed within an organization and coaches either part-time or full-time the employees of that organization.
- “Sponsor”—the entity (including its representatives) paying for and/or arranging or defining the coaching services to be provided.
- “Support Personnel”—the people who work for TRS Professionals in support of their Clients.
- “Systemic equality”—gender equality, race equality and other forms of equality that are institutionalized in the ethics, core values, policies, structures, and cultures of communities, organizations, nations and society.
- “Mentor In Training”— one who is training to become a Trained Mentor coach
- “Small Group Leader”—an individual facilitating and in charge of an assigned group of students within the Relationship Coach Training program
- “Small Group Leader Assistant”—an individual supporting a Small Group Leader with administrative responsibilities within the context of their Small Group
- “Supervision”—a scenario or instance of a Video Review Supervisor or Trained Mentor observing a session of a certified coach and providing constructive feedback and mentorship.
- “Trained Mentor”– a Mentor coach who has been approved by TRS and successfully completed the requirements to mentor students and existing coaches
- “Video Review Supervisor”—an individual who has completed the requirements and became recognized by TRS as capable and qualified to provide constructive feedback to other coaches for the purpose of increasing their skills and efficacy.
The following ethical standards are applied to the professional activities of TRS Professionals:
Section I—Responsibility to Clients
As a TRS Professional, I:
- Explain and ensure (in writing) that, prior to, or at the initial meeting, my coaching Client(s) and Sponsor(s) understand the nature and potential value of coaching, the nature and limits of confidentiality, financial arrangements, and any other terms of the coaching agreement.
- Create an agreement/contract regarding the roles, responsibilities, and rights of all parties involved with my Client(s) and Sponsor(s), prior to the commencement of services.
- Maintain the strictest levels of confidentiality with all parties as agreed upon. I am aware of and agree to comply with all applicable laws that pertain to personal data and communications.
- Have a clear understanding about how information is exchanged among all parties involved during all coaching interactions.
- Have a clear understanding with both Clients and Sponsors or interested parties about the conditions under which information will not be kept confidential (e.g., illegal activity, if required by law, pursuant to valid court order or subpoena; imminent or likely risk of danger to self or to others; etc.). Where I reasonably believe one of the above circumstances is applicable, I may need to inform appropriate authorities.
- When working as an Internal Coach, manage conflicts of interest or potential conflicts of interest with my coaching Clients and Sponsor(s) through coaching agreement(s) and ongoing dialogue. This should include addressing organizational roles, responsibilities, relationships, records, confidentiality and other reporting requirements.
- Maintain, store and dispose of any records, including electronic files and communications, created during my professional interactions in a manner that promotes confidentiality, security and privacy and complies with any applicable laws and agreements. Furthermore, I seek to make proper use of emerging and growing technological developments that are being used in coaching services (technology-assisted coaching services) and be aware how various ethical standards apply to them.
- Remain alert to indications that there might be a shift in the value received from the coaching relationship. If so, make a change in the relationship or encourage the Client(s)/Sponsor(s) to seek another coach, seek another professional or use a different resource.
- Respect all parties’ right to terminate the coaching relationship at any point for any reason during the coaching process subject to the provisions of the agreement.
- Am sensitive to the implications of having multiple contracts and relationships with the same Client(s) and Sponsor(s) at the same time in order to avoid conflict of interest situations.
- Am aware of and actively manage any power or status difference between the Client and me that may be caused by cultural, relational, psychological or contextual issues.
- Disclose to my Clients the potential receipt of compensation, and other benefits I may receive for referring my Clients to third parties.
- Assure consistent quality of coaching regardless of the amount or form of agreed compensation in any relationship.
- Will make the physical and mental well-being of each client a prime consideration.
- Will not engage in verbal, physical, or emotional abuse of any client.
Section II—Responsibility to Practice and Performance
As a TRS Professional, I:
- Adhere to the TRS Code of Ethics in all my interactions. When I become aware of a possible breach of the Code by myself or I recognize unethical behavior in another TRS Professional, I respectfully raise the matter with those involved. If this does not resolve the matter, I refer it to a formal authority (e.g., TRS) for resolution.
- Require adherence to the TRS Code of Ethics by all Support Personnel.
- Commit to excellence through continued personal, professional and ethical development.
- Recognize my personal limitations or circumstances that may impair, conflict with, or interfere with my coaching performance or my professional coaching relationships. I will reach out for support to determine the action to be taken and, if necessary, promptly seek relevant professional guidance. This may include suspending or terminating my coaching relationship(s).
- Resolve any conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest by working through the issue with relevant parties, seeking professional assistance, or suspending temporarily or ending the professional relationship.
- Maintain the privacy of TRS Members and use the TRS Member contact information (email addresses, telephone numbers, and so on) only as authorized by TRS or the TRS Member.
- Will coach each client within the limits of my training and competence and refer out when outside my skills, training, or capacity. Within RCT and as a level 1 Relationship Coach, I am not qualified* to work with:
- People who don’t make progress with their goals
- Stay stuck in blame (self or other) and can’t seem to take any personal responsibility
- People who have unaddressed mental health challenges that make our style of relationship coaching very difficult or risky
- Have unaddressed childhood trauma that needs more support than we are trained to give
- Are actively severely depressed and/or suicidal
- Have an ongoing addiction or eating disorder that is disrupting their relationships and their life
- Are in abusive relationships of any kind (mental, verbal, emotional, physical, spiritual)
- People who are professionally diagnosed as “autistic” will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
*for more information on the groups level 1 relationship coaches are not qualified to serve, please refer to ‘People We Are Not Able To Serve and Why’ section in the Present Centered Relationship Coaching Training Manual
- If coaching begins and I learn that my client has any of the above, I will educate them about my training and limitations and will refer them to a higher level of care immediately.
- Will purchase and maintain regular Liability Insurance to cover any allegations that a client may make, as well as have the client sign a Coaching Agreement form, releasing me of legal responsibility.
Section III—Responsibility to Professionalism
As a TRS Professional, I:
- Identify accurately my coaching qualifications, my level of coaching competency, expertise, experience, training, certifications and TRS Credentials.
- Make verbal and written statements that are true and accurate about what I offer as an TRS Professional, what is offered by TRS, the coaching profession, and the potential value of coaching.
- Communicate and create awareness with those who need to be informed of the ethical responsibilities established by this Code.
- Hold responsibility for being aware of and setting clear, appropriate and culturally sensitive boundaries that govern interactions, physical or otherwise.
- Do not participate in any sexual or romantic engagement with Client(s) or Sponsor(s). I will be ever mindful of the level of intimacy appropriate for the relationship. I take the appropriate action to address the issue or cancel the coaching engagement.
- Will treat other coaches with respect and refrain from public defamation.
- Will treat the TRS staff with respect, kindness, and personal responsibility if I have an issue with them.
Section IV—Responsibility to Society
As a TRS Professional, I:
- Avoid discrimination by maintaining fairness and equality in all activities and operations, while respecting local rules and cultural practices. This includes, but is not limited to, discrimination on the basis of age, race, gender expression, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability or military status.
- Recognize and honor the contributions and intellectual property of others, only claiming ownership of my own material. I understand that a breach of this standard may subject me to legal remedy by a third party.
- Am honest and work within recognized scientific standards, applicable subject guidelines and boundaries of my competence when conducting and reporting research.
- Am aware of my and my clients’ impact on society. I adhere to the philosophy of “doing good,” versus “avoiding bad.”
- Will not knowingly make any public statements that are untrue or misleading, or make false claims in any written documents relating to the coaching profession.
- Will always be honest about the nature of my title and certification when referring to them with client(s), in the general public, the media, promotional materials and within the confines of our profession.
As a TRS Professional, in accordance with the Standards of the TRS Code of Ethics, I acknowledge and agree to fulfill my ethical and legal obligations to my coaching Client(s), Sponsor(s), TRS Staff, colleagues and to the public at large.
If I breach any part of the TRS Code of Ethics or am not in alignment with TRS practices, I agree that the TRS in its sole discretion may hold me accountable for doing so. I further agree that my accountability to TRS for any breach may include sanctions, such as mandatory additional coach training or other education, or result in program removal, loss of my TRS Membership and/or my TRS Credential (including certification).