BACP Coaching A Division of BACP

Position Statement

BACP has a series of Position Statements that describe its standpoint on a particular issue or area. These Position Statements can be general or specific, and can consist of values, beliefs and knowledge that manifest in policy, campaign and media work.

  1. BACP recognises that many of its counselling and psychotherapy-trained members also work as professional coaches.
  2. BACP recognises that our members deliver services through face to face appointments, technological media and telephone as well as with individuals and groups. These statements apply however the service is delivered.

Definition of coaching in relation to counselling

  1. Coaching may by characterised by interventions which are more likely to be developmental in nature, build on existing strengths, less likely to be accompanied by high levels of distress, and driven by the client's desire to develop their potential, and/or understanding of themselves, their beliefs, behaviours and actions.
  2. Counselling may be characterised by interventions which are more likely to be reparative in nature, psychologically based, accompanied by higher levels of distress and driven by the client's need for alleviation of that distress, and/or understanding of themselves, their beliefs, behaviours and actions.
  3. A number of existing therapeutic approaches, e.g. Solution Focused, CBT, Egan, and other newer approaches, can more or less explicitly be seen as encompassing both therapeutic and developmental components within a single framework.
  4. The closing stages of therapy may incorporate elements similar to coaching, with an emphasis on embedding skills in the context of the client's broader life, the future, goals and next steps.
  5. Intentionality – the exercise of conscious and purposeful practice, including appropriate management of work along the therapeutic/developmental continuum, is the foundation of effective and ethical working.

Ethics and supervision

  1. Whether the focus of work is primarily therapeutically or developmentally focused, supervision remains an ethical imperative in supporting safe and ethical practice and practitioner development.


  1. In general, a good degree of relative psychological stability is a prerequisite for successful coaching and higher levels of psychological distress may suggest the need for a counselling intervention. This does not preclude the application of specialist forms of coaching for people with significant mental health or addiction problems e.g. Recovery Coaching.
  2. Adverse life events in themselves, need not preclude a coaching relationship. Someone who is bereaved, for example, may derive significant value from a contract focused on confidence building and social engagement.
  3. Clients' needs, and ways of meeting them, need to be considered as part of a dynamic process. For example, coaching may surface issues of a deeper psychological nature. Conversely, the recovery of psychological balance through counselling may enable progression to a more developmental focus.


  1. The client's descriptions of their needs, expectations and desired outcomes are reliable initial indicators of whether the focus is likely to be primarily therapeutic or developmental, and the contract will be a fit of these and the practitioner's own personal framework or model.
  2. New issues and needs may emerge as work progresses which require managing in the context of the existing contract.
  3. The context in which a referral arises plays a critical part in shaping the nature of the contract, the lines of accountability, the boundaries of the relationship, and potentially the focus of the work.
  4. Where the work involves a three way contract (practitioner-client-third party/organisation) the lines of accountability, the boundaries of the relationship, and the degree of confidentiality should be clearly expressed and understood by all parties.
  5. Contracts for counselling or coaching are characteristically either two-way (practitioner-client), or three way (practitioner-client-third party/organisation). The presence of a third party commissioner can define or shape the nature of the contract.


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