As a professional coach, providing your clients with the best service possible is always the goal. Whether you’re a life coach, health and wellness coach, or a business coach, it’s important to prioritize what it is your client needs in order to help them reach their goals. You identify your client’s strengths and weaknesses, create a plan of action, and support them as they work toward their goals.
But there may be times that you find yourself in a sticky situation. Perhaps a client raises questions about certain language or phrases found on your website. Maybe some of the information was misinterpreted. As a result, a client claims that you mislead them about the structure of your business or professional relationship, even if that wasn’t intended. Financial and health advice, for example, can directly impact a person’s life and their well-being. Having a coaching disclaimer prevents these types of situations from stalling you in growing your business.
In this article, we’ll cover all the basics about including a coaching disclaimer, why it’s necessary for coaches to have it, and what information should go into your disclaimer to avoid any legal troubles in the future. You can save yourself a lot of hassle by providing this information upfront at the start of the coaching process.
What is A Coaching Disclaimer?
Most people are familiar with disclaimers even if they don’t recognize them as one. We often see warranty disclaimers on products, trigger warning disclaimers on television, and trademark disclaimers regarding affiliated products or brands. The purpose of any disclaimer is to specify the limitations a person or business may have in a legal capacity—what does or doesn’t constitute a legal responsibility. It can accept or deny responsibility regarding products, services, or actions taken by the consumer.
Business coaching or life coaching is a unique situation that involves a direct relationship between yourself and your client. You want your disclaimer to protect yourself in case any legal actions are taken. At the same time, your disclaimer is there to make your client aware of what your advice, techniques, methods, and insight are for and how it’s intended to be used. However they decide to use your advice is up to them, but the results of their decision should not fall back on you or hold you responsible for them.
Another aspect of a legal disclaimer is to state clarifications on the accuracy and content information contained on your website. When you share content to help your client—either through your website, programs, or other resources—you may have to regularly update it. You can note that a specific section of information has been updated, or include the time and date of each post as you go through updates. And although it’s not required, adding your contact information to your disclaimer allows clients to reach out to you if they need to.
What is the Purpose of A Coaching Disclaimer?
Sometimes it’s hard to determine what constitutes legal responsibility by either coach or client. As with any other disclaimer, the point of having a coaching disclaimer is to state and limit your liability as a coach. Personal coaches and life coaches in particular provide guidance and advice to help with personal development. What your client may or may not do with the information is ultimately up to them, and should not fall back on you.
Your coaching disclaimer should make it clear that the services and advice you provide are not substitutes for any legal advice, financial recommendation, or medical advice. Again, this is to separate yourself from any legal actions that may be taken in the event that your client claims you are responsible for the result of how they interpreted your advice.
Consider these reasons as to why you should have a coaching disclaimer:
- Inform your client and manage their expectations: As early in the process as possible, you want to be upfront with your client about what you can and can’t do as their coach. By pointing out your areas of expertise, you remove the risk of confusion about your qualifications. That way your client knows how to use your recommendations and advice moving forward. For instance, if you’re a mental health coach but not a licensed psychologist, you want to inform your client that while you can provide support and guidance, you aren’t a medical professional. This will help avoid any misconceptions.
- Protect yourself against misuse: As a coach, you have the best intentions when working with your clients. You want to provide informational insight that fits the needs of your client’s particular circumstance. You also want to provide your opinion on ways to help them reach their goal. Unfortunately, the information you share could be misused or cause them harm. You want to ensure the client knows you are not liable for how they implement your recommendations or if they disregard your advice.
- Comply with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): This is especially important to keep in mind if you include affiliate links, products, or testimonials as part of your coaching business or website. The FTC actually mandates that professional coaches include an affiliate disclaimer, informing clients that coaches receive compensation for promoting products through an affiliate link or program. This demonstrates transparency surrounding endorsements and branding partnerships.
What Should You Include in A Coaching Disclaimer?
Since the purpose of a coaching disclaimer is to create a legal barrier between you, your business, and your clients, there are several key points you want to cover in your disclaimer. Of course, if you have any questions or need assistance in writing your disclaimer, it’s best to seek out professional legal advice. If you don’t have access to a legal professional, don’t worry. Here are a few main components you want to include in your disclaimer:
- Professional boundaries: It takes a big heart and a lot of commitment to engage as a life coach with others. In the interest of helping others toward a more fulfilling life, it’s a good idea to be straightforward about your credentials and background. This helps your client set and manage realistic expectations. You can also establish your work hours, method of communication, and other expectations in order to maintain a healthy professional relationship with your client.
- Medical opinion: Although as a coach your main goal is to encourage clients to make significant changes to reach their goals, you’re not a physician, psychologist, or healthcare professional. If your audience interprets the content you provide as medical or health care advice, it could lead to some problems. This is why it’s important to define your services, your background and credentials, and to exercise caution when implementing recommended health advice.
- Liability of use: You may provide excellent coaching services to your clients with the latest know-how, but it can still negatively impact your client’s health even though that was not your intention. Be sure to include a liability of use to disclaim responsibility if someone experiences medical problems due to your coaching advice. Again, you want to make it clear that your client is responsible for the execution of the advice you’ve provided and the interpretation of information contained on your website.
- Guarantees: Coaching is not a one-size-fits-all business. Most of the advice and recommendations are catered to each individual client based on their circumstance or goals. This is why you can’t guarantee results, regardless of the success of past clients—everyone is different, just like their results. A no-guarantee clause in your contract and disclaimer eliminates any assumptions and disappointment.
How Do You Write A Coaching Disclaimer?
It’s important to write your disclaimer using language that limits your personal responsibility if there’s ever an issue with a client. This shields your business from potential legal problems. You also want to be as clear and concise to prevent any confusion. If you have access to a lawyer, they can always review your disclaimer to ensure you’re covering yourself and your business. But a general rule is to forgo complicated or technical jargon and use common terms and phrases that clients will easily understand.
What Types of Coaching Disclaimers Should I Use?
Legal Advice Disclaimer
This type of disclaimer is used to clarify that any advice or information you provide shouldn’t be taken as legal advice. This can also be applied to financial advice, medical or health advice, and other professional advice you may share with your client.
Third-Party Content Disclaimer
Some coaches include other websites, program or blog content, and links to third-party businesses and resources that they don’t own. By including a third-party content disclaimer you’re ensuring that the client is aware you’re not responsible and can’t be held liable for the result of following or implementing advice found through those third-parties.
Affiliate Link Disclaimer
If you work with other businesses, say to provide products or services, you want to inform your clients of this with an affiliate disclaimer. This informs your client you may receive a commission by promoting third-party products, which is often done through affiliate marketing and links. You can also include information about receiving a testimonial from a client or a testimonial from other businesses in exchange for providing them with services or a product.
Use At Your Own Risk Disclaimer
You want to make sure your client understands that they are responsible for any results or risks that may be associated with products or services offered through your business. Any damages, loss, or consequences that are a result of your coaching relationship are their responsibility.
No Guarantee Disclaimer
You want to make it clear that you don’t make any promises or guarantees of specific results through your coaching services or product. As each experience is different, you can’t guarantee a certain outcome or result when a client decides to work with you.
Where Should You Place Your Coaching Disclaimer?
Now that you’ve written your coaching disclaimer, it’s time to decide where to display it on your website. There are several places you can place your disclaimer, and it’s not a bad idea to put it in multiple places to ensure your client will find it. Here are a few suggestions of where to place your coaching disclaimer:
- Terms and Conditions Agreement: You may want to include your coaching disclaimer within your terms and conditions agreement, which typically includes other important information regarding your services and products.
- A Disclaimer Page: If you want to ensure your coaching disclaimer will be found, consider creating an entire webpage specifically for your statement.
- Emails and Newsletters: Let’s say you send out a weekly newsletter with updates or a link to your latest blog post. Including your disclaimer in your newsletter will remind them of your services and qualifications, as well as expectations should they start working with you.
- Print Out or Pamphlet: If you have in-person coaching sessions, you can incorporate your disclaimer as part of your coaching contract or informational handout before the session begins.
Use A Coaching Disclaimer For Success
In order to expand and continue to grow as a coach, you don’t want to get bogged down with legal problems that could impact your business. Using a life coaching disclaimer will give you a sense and peace of mind that offer you protection, legally, on the off-chance an issue arises.
Even if you’re an experienced coach with great testimonials from past clients, you might still have questions about how to improve your business. Practice can help you schedule coaching sessions, organize payments, and communicate directly with your clients for a seamless client experience. We also have a vast library of articles and resources on professional development that can help you fine-tune your methods and program. Try Practice with a free 7-day trial to see how we can help you on your path to success.