Are you thinking about how to prioritize client confidentiality in your coaching business? Because if you’re not, you should be!
As a coach, your clients come to you with heaps of sensitive information.
They let you into their inner world and share their most vulnerable moments during their sessions with you.
Whether you’re a coach specializing in business, money, relationships, or mindset…we’re willing to bet you go deep with your clients. Your clients pour their hearts out to you, and with that comes some serious responsibility.
You need to make sure you’re creating a safe space for them to share their struggles, wins, and fears…and to do that, client confidentiality is required.
So let’s get into all things confidentiality-related when it comes to your coaching business!
Client Confidentiality In Coaching
You might be wondering…as a coach, do you have a legal obligation to maintain your client’s confidentiality?
And the answer is no.
The relationship between a coach and client is not protected by legal confidentiality like that of a lawyer and their client or a doctor and their patient.
So, in the event the authorities require certain information about your client, you will need to divulge it.
That being said, while you might not have a legal obligation to protect your client’s confidential information, you do have a contractual and moral one.
In the coach and client relationship, it’s understood that your client is telling you about their life or business in confidence.
They expect their privacy to be respected, and it absolutely should be!
Get It In Writing
This expectation shouldn’t just be implied, but clearly communicated in your client contract.
Your contract should contain a client confidentiality clause that states you will not – in any case – share confidential information.
This clause should go both ways, too. If your client is privy to any confidential information about your coaching business, a confidentiality clause makes sure they won’t give away your secrets, either!
What is Considered Confidential Information?
Confidential information is anything that is not considered public information or isn’t published somewhere online. This includes proprietary information or simply information related to your client’s business that is not available publicly.
This could look like financial wins your client has experienced, key information about founders or team members, business systems or strategies your client is using, or anything else you wouldn’t be able to find via their website or social channels.
Your contract’s confidentiality clause should clearly state that this information stays between the two of you – and that any publishing of this information via your website, social media channels, or elsewhere is strictly prohibited.
Some contracts will state that this kind of information can be published, but only with the explicit written permission of your client!
Important Note: Client confidentiality isn’t just about not posting sensitive information about your clients on social media. You want to make sure that you’re not sharing this information verbally with your network or business connections, either!
Do I Need An NDA?
In your effort to prioritize confidentiality, you might wonder…do I need an NDA?
An NDA stands for a non-disclosure agreement. An NDA ensures that the party signing will not disclose any confidential information, both during and after the working relationship has ended.
And a mutual non-disclosure agreement ensures that both parties agree to keep confidential info under wraps.
While you absolutely could get an NDA, for most coaches this probably isn’t necessary if you have a solid coaching contract.
As long as your coaching contract has a clearly-outlined confidentiality clause within it, there’s no need to get your clients to sign a separate NDA.
Pssst. All of our Coaches & Co. plug-and-play coaching contract templates have a lock-tight confidentiality clause! You’re welcome. 😉
Sharing Your Client Wins Without Breaching Confidentiality
Let’s look at a few examples of potential breaches of client confidentiality in the coaching world.
Let’s take Coach A – we’ll call her Sherry.
Sherry’s a fertility coach and she just got the news one of her clients is pregnant!
Sherry’s jumping for joy and can’t wait to celebrate her client on social media.
But unless she’s gotten explicit permission from her client, this could be a HUGE breach of client confidentiality.
Even if her client has posted the news on her own social media network, there’s no guarantee that she’s comfortable with Sherry’s audience hearing this news.
Let’s use another example of Coach B, Renée.
Renée is a business coach and one of her clients just launched her very first online course.
She hit it out of the park and made $10k on her first launch!
Renée couldn’t feel prouder and wanted to share the news on her website to showcase her client results.
What could go wrong? If anything it’s free advertising for her client…right?
It’s not up to us to judge whether or not we have the right to share our clients’ results and wins.
Unless your client has already given you permission to share their results (and they’ve agreed to this in writing, in their contract) you ALWAYS need to ask!
You might think, “Well I’d have no problem if my coach shared this!”…
…but that’s not *quite* how client confidentiality works.
In the case of both Sherry and Renée, the clear choice to respect the confidentiality of their clients is to ask their clients before sharing.
It’s easy to quickly post a story in excitement without thinking about the legal sides of sharing client wins.
Be sure to read this post for more tips on how to legally and ethically use testimonials in your marketing.
Protecting Your Client’s Anonymity
Some clients might agree that you can share their story or results – but would prefer to be kept anonymous.
If this is the case, make sure you’re not only removing any client or brand names but also removing key details to make sure that the information is truly anonymous.
This might take a bit of extra work, but it’s SO important to make sure you’re respecting your client’s wishes and they wouldn’t be able to be identified.
The same thing goes when talking about your client in group or private settings.
You should not be revealing your client list to your network.
Say, for example, you’re a coach and you’re experiencing issues with your client.
Maybe you’re having trouble getting them to pay an invoice or your professional relationship is suffering.
If YOU decide you need to vent about this situation at your weekly mastermind group session, it’s important not to reveal this sensitive personal and financial information about your client to the group.
Everyone needs support about certain client situations – that’s normal! But do *not* reveal their name or any key details that could give away their identity to your network.
Prioritize client confidentiality by protecting the anonymity of your clients.
We don’t want to alarm you, but there can be serious consequences if you breach your client’s confidentiality.
If your client claims they’ve suffered damages as a result of you breaching their confidentiality, they could take you to court or hit you with a hefty lawsuit.
That’s why the best practice is to maintain confidentiality of your clients and your clients’ information no matter what.
No matter how big or small the matter is, don’t share it with friends, colleagues, or your network.
And be sure to give you and your clients the protection you both deserve by grabbing one of our lawyer-created, plug-and-play coaching contract templates!
Check out our ready-to-use, lawyer-approved, plug-and-play legal contract templates! So you can upgrade your client contract while staying Profitable & Protected™✨
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*The information presented in this blog post is for educational & informational purposes only. This should not be a substitute for customized legal advice from a licensed professional in a private setting. If you need legal advice, please consult with an attorney. This is not a law firm.