Asking the Health and Well-being Question in Coaching

Ensuring a duty of care towards our clients

Asking the Health and Wellbeing Question in Coaching

In these times of crisis, it is more important than ever that we ensure a duty of care towards our clients.

Most coaches know that contracting is highly important to the set up and eventual success of good coaching contracts. In fact, most issues brought to supervision are to do with things omitted during contracting or those things not done well.

Sometimes this can lead to what we call a Columbo moment. (Only if you’re over 40. Look him up on YouTube!)

This is when clients tell you something major right at the end of a coaching session that can be shocking/surprising, which can leave you wrong footed just as you run out of session time and begin to wrap up.

GPs recognise this. Patients often only say in passing what they have really attended for right at the end of the consultation, i.e. “While I’m here, Doctor, can I just ask you about X?” This is usually due to embarrassment or shame.

My health and wellbeing question specifically asks: “Is there anything else your coach/supervisor needs to know?”

It’s a question I’ve used for years but discovered clients don’t always know what you mean and if you don’t ask they won’t think to mention anything that could be significant.  I have now started to give examples such as past history, illnesses, medication, therapy, etc.

Why ask this?

Well, sometimes this information has a bearing on how you will work with your client and the outcomes.

Doing some career coaching with a client who has Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for example brings up any limitations they may have when focussing on the future and how they may play to one’s current strengths and opportunities.

A medication discussion has often revealed clients on lifelong antidepressants this enables you to check whether there are any mental health issues that would preclude you from coaching them.

I worked with someone who was anxious in presentations and found it useful to discover she was taking beta blockers to help with certain scenarios.

Clients have told me about past therapy, which can also surface any confusion about the difference between their experience of counselling and coaching. Supervision clients in particular have found it useful to explore any grief/drug/alcohol/suicide stories in their own backgrounds especially when/if it crops up with coachees, and they need to be aware of any hot buttons being pressed for them.

Of course, clients always have the choice on how much to share with their coach but if we explain the reason for a health and well being question and assure confidentiality then this can remain appositive conversation

Ultimately, as coaches we have a duty of care to find out that our coachees have a ‘normal’ foundation to build from, e.g. good nutrition, sleep, physical and emotional health, support network. And if they don’t, we can include this in the coaching contract alongside their other objectives. Successful outcomes are therefore much more likely!


Has any of this sparked an interest? Contact Julia to chat through your thoughts and how she can help. 


2 years ago : May 20, 2020

By Julia Menaul