New ICF Resource Helps Coaches Understand When and How to Refer Clients to Therapy - International Coaching Federation
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New ICF Resource Helps Coaches Understand When and How to Refer Clients to Therapy

International Coach Federation white paper provides guidelines for professional coach practitioners.

Lexington, Kentucky, USA—The International Coach Federation (ICF) has released a pair of resources to guide professional coaches through the process of referring a client to psychotherapy.

Referring a Client to Therapy: A Set of Guidelines is a white paper by ICF Senior Research Analyst Alicia M. Hullinger, Ph.D., and Director of Coaching Science Joel A. DiGirolamo. It’s designed to help professional coach practitioners understand when and how to refer a client to a mental health or other helping professional when the client’s needs are outside a coach’s competencies. Hullinger and DiGirolamo also created a one-page resource on when and how to refer a client to therapy. The resources, which are based on pertinent research and interviews with coaches and therapists, are available for download at

ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaching focuses on visioning, success, the present and moving toward the future. Therapy emphasizes psychopathology, emotions and the past to understand the present, and it works more with developing skills for managing emotions or past issues than does coaching.

“Knowing when to refer a client to other professionals is an important part of any coach’s professional practice. It is specifically reflected in the ICF Code of Ethics that all ICF members and credentialed coaches abide by. This guide offers a powerful and structured way for coaches to assess and respond to situations they encounter in their practice and serves as an assurance for the clients that they will receive the service that is best suited for their unique circumstances,” ICF CEO/Executive Director Magdalena Mook said.

“ICF is committed to leveraging our research to assist coaches in their practice and to inform coaching clients and organizational consumers of coaching,” DiGirolamo said. “Research shows that early intervention through referral can positively impact clients’ mental health outcomes. We’re very pleased to offer these guidelines to the coaching industry so practitioners can uphold their ethical obligations and ensure the best possible outcomes for their clients.”

The International Coach Federation (ICF) is dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high ethical standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of credentialed coaches across a variety of coaching disciplines. ICF is active in representing all facets of the coaching industry, including Executive, Life Vision and Enhancement, Leadership, Relationship, and Career Coaching. Its 27,000-plus members located in more than 135 countries work toward the common goal of enhancing awareness of coaching, upholding the integrity of the profession, and continually educating themselves with the newest research and practices.


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Comments (2)

  1. Sophia says:

    Thanks for the information.

  2. This is good and worth sharing.

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