Adapting the Masteries to Best Practices Established in the Delivery of Coaching Services Online: Mastery 1

DeeAnna Nagel & Kate Anthony

#1. Establishing and maintaining a relationship of trust


Ensure a safe space and supportive relationship for personal growth, discovery
and transformation.

Ensuring a space and a supportive relationship for personal growth, discovery
and transformation online must include the technology and method of delivery.

Establishing and maintaining a relationship of trust often begins with the
coach’s website or directory listing. The coach’s ability to describe
his or her approach is essential, as well as a biography and background information
that is professional but easy to understand. This helps establish trust and
builds the potential client’s confidence in the coach.

For instance, how will the potential client first contact the coach? If the
coach instructs the potential client to email the coach, the email process should
be one that is secure and encrypted.

In addition to the initial steps for contact, it is important to explain the
process of online coaching and how the coaching will be delivered.

Once the coaching relationship is contracted, the coach can offer guidelines
for issues related to possible technological breakdown and for how to re-establish
contact should a breakdown occur. For instance, a video session may suddenly
end and unless the coach has explained the guidelines to the client, the client
may not know the end of the session was not intentional. Likewise, telling the
client similar guidelines about the use of email or journal entries is important
as well. See the following statements as examples,

Please know that I will never disconnect during a session with you on purpose.
Should we become disconnected during a chat or video session online, try to
re-establish a connection. If that is not possible, email, text or phone me
to reschedule.

Another key element in establishing a safe environment when working online
is to discuss the Online Disinhibition Effect. This can be accomplished
very simply by explaining to a new client that working online often has positive
rewards because we tend to be able to open up easily. Encourage the client to
become aware of his or her comfort level as they disclose information. For instance,

You may find that working online works for you because some people find
it is easier to be open and honest about the coaching process- how you are progressing
on your goals or what seems to be difficult. We have time, so be sure to check
in with yourself about how much you are disclosing. It is easier to open up
but sometimes when we share too much too quickly, we might feel a bit vulnerable
afterward. If this happens, feel free to talk to me about it.

Because of disinhibition, establishing “between session strategies”
is important. One example that we have already referred to is journal writing.
Keeping the client engaged between sessions can aid in the client feeling safe,
resulting in the likelihood that the client will take more risks in the coaching
relationship. Other examples of “between session strategies” might
include sending a positive affirmation text or emailing an article of interest
to the client.

With regard to online communication, pacing and cues are different. Educating
the client about the nuances of online conversation may be necessary but can
also give the client a feeling of security knowing that the coach is willing
to teach him or her about the unique aspects of the communication. For instance,
during a chat session, the coach might write,

When you are typing out your thoughts, take your time. You can send me
bits of information at a time by simply entering after you have typed a sentence
or two. Likewise, I will do the same. If you ask me a question and I am pausing
to think, I will type [pausing] to let you know I am with you but I am contemplating
your question.

This article, excerpted from Online Coach Institute’s Specialist
Certificate in Online Coaching
curriculum offers a brief overview of a
few of the technological nuances that may influence the establishment and maintenance
of trust in the online coaching relationship.

DeeAnna Nagel 

Nagel is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Board Certified Coach
in New Jersey.



Anthony is a psychotherapist and Certified Professional Coach in Scotland.
They co-founded the Online Therapy Institute/Online Coach Institute.,
and teach coaches and therapists how to deliver ethical and confidential
services online. They can be reached at

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