In coaching as well as in coaching supervision, clients often share very intimate personal details or confidential business information with their coaches, respectively, with their coach supervisors. Obviously, this information needs to remain confidential; imagine the disaster if it leaked!
However, as a coach or coach supervisor, you may be required to record some of your sessions, e.g. for credentialing purposes. This comes with several challenges that, in my experience as a coach supervisor, many coaches take too lightly and has serious implications.
Recording coaching or coaching supervision sessions is not only highly sensitive concerning confidentiality and legal aspects. If either you are or your client is not entirely comfortable with a recording taking place, it will negatively impact the quality of your coaching or coaching supervision.
Therefore, I have summarized the best practice for recording coaching and coaching supervision sessions below.
Your client needs to feel absolutely comfortable with the recordings. This goes beyond the legal and ethical requirement of having her/him agree to the recordings. If your client does not trust that these recordings are safe with you or has the slightest concerns but does not voice them, it can negatively impact your coaching or coaching supervision. Eventually, your relationship with your client can be damaged.
- Ask your client right at the beginning of any new coaching or coaching supervision assignment whether they are ok with recordings or not. Contract accordingly.
- Be transparent and very specific about the purpose of such recordings, e.g., “The recordings are exclusively for my assessment to become accredited as coach supervisor at Oxford Brookes University. For this assessment, I need to submit two recordings of supervision sessions.” Do not use generic explanations such as “for educational” or “training purposes.”
- Be transparent and specific as to who might access the recordings, e.g., “only the two assessors at Oxford Brookes, who are currently Prof. Tatiana Bachkirova and Dr. Peter Jackson, will listen to these two recordings” instead of vague expressions like “my supervisor” or “my mentor.” In the latter case, the supervisor or mentor could be a person who knows your client, or your client might not want this particular person to listen to the recordings.
- Be clear as to what measures you will take to ensure confidentiality and compliance and to prevent unauthorized access to these recordings.
- Assure your client that they can request to stop a recording at any time during a coaching or coaching supervision session, that they can request to have individual or all recordings deleted at any point in time, and that they can revoke their consent to recordings at any time.
- Double-check if your client has any concerns.
- Put your agreement in writing.
Confidentiality, Data Privacy, and Data Security
There are numerous legal aspects to consider when you record your coaching or coaching supervision sessions.
- Familiarize yourself with the applicable laws and regulations such as GDPR, PDPA, CCPA, etc. Applicable suggests that you must know which laws and regulations apply, e.g. when coaching or supervising somebody remotely across countries with different legislation.
- Soft files of the recordings need to be protected from any unauthorized access. Password-protection of computers may not suffice when you store these files on local hard drives or in “the cloud.” Imagine your computer needs to be serviced by an external party, thereby giving the servicing person(s) access to your stored data. Therefore, it is recommended to store soft files on a dedicated external drive that is encrypted, not just password-protected, and stored in a safe place.
- Delete the recording once you do not need it anymore, e.g., after your accreditation or mentoring session.
Following the steps above may seem very formal, but it will help build trust with your client, make your coaching or coaching supervision more effective, and eventually keep you out of legal trouble.
Disclaimer: While I provided the best practice for recording coaching and coaching supervision sessions above to the best of my knowledge, it is by no means exhaustive, especially regarding legal aspects. Should you have any suggestions to improve the list, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d appreciate your input!
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