Ethical guidelines

AOCS Ethical Guidelines

AOCS requires that its members support themselves in supervision, irrespective of the level of training, qualifications gained, or membership of professional organisations they hold. And that they shall constantly stay abreast of developments in their field by participating in conferences and seminars and by keeping themselves informed of issues discussed at professional associations including AOCS.

Members should ensure compliance with the relevant legal, ethical, and professional guidelines in force. You can download a copy of this document for your own records by downloading below.

The role of the supervisor includes monitoring the ethical practice and professional development of their supervisees, in the service of the supervisee’s clients.

If a supervisee or client has an issue with a supervisor’s practice or a specific activity, they should complete a Complaint against that supervisor, as described in our Complaints procedure (download below).

Guidelines for members

The supervisor will create the appropriate environment for themselves and the supervisee, and ensure personal safety at all times by adhering to the “lone worker” guidelines*.

Contracting: the supervisor should make and keep to confidentiality agreements the supervisee and the host organisation, if relevant. Exceptions would be where the issues raised are too serious involving, for example, actual or criminal acts, health and safety, bullying, blatant sexism or racism, fraud, or substance abuse that is affecting his/her supervision role.

The supervisor will be alert to noticing when a supervisee is no longer be benefiting from the supervisory relationship and might therefore be better served by another supervisor. He/she will raise his/her concern and, as appropriate, negotiate a change. This might include supporting the supervisee in finding another supervisor; he/she will encourage the supervisee to make that change.

The supervisor should notice feelings of unease and stop, refer or seek support if she/he is worried about ethical boundaries or getting out of their depth i.e. counselling or therapist role.

The supervisor will acknowledge the work and contributions of others; will respect copyrights, trademarks and intellectual property rights and will comply with applicable laws and agreements concerning these rights.

The supervisor should keep the supervision relationship professional at all times and regularly monitor the boundaries. She/he will not give supervisees or any prospective client’s information or advice which breaches confidentiality, is known to be confidential, is misleading or is beyond his/her competence.

The supervisor will ensure that he/she is in regular supervision and maintains their CPD as a supervisor. Supervisors should take significant issues, either ‘big’ or ‘small’ to their own supervisor or supervision group to discuss and resolve.

Notes from supervision work - including notes made during conversations, correspondence, electronically-stored documents, and audio and video recordings - will remain confidential and will comply with the relevant Data Protection laws in force.

If the supervisor anticipates a potential, or sees an actual, conflict of interest with the supervisee or the commissioning organisation he/she will declare this immediately and clearly with the affected parties. If this conflict cannot be resolved satisfactorily, the supervisor may withdraw their services.

Supervisors should have professional indemnity insurance in place to protect themselves from claims.

The supervisor will endeavour to be well enough physically, mentally and emotionally at all times to be in the service of the supervisee. If a positive state of health cannot be ensured the supervisor will withdraw their services and may recommend an alternative solution.

The supervisor may from time to time issue certificates of current supervision (as requested) if the supervisee maintains their CPD and personal development plan, and is working towards/achieving the goals agreed to develop their practice. The supervisor may withdraw these certificates and may terminate the contract if the supervisee’s practice is unethical, bad practice or illegal. She/he may also retain the option to report the supervisee to their certifying coaching organisation for serious breaches of conduct.

The professional relationship between supervisor and supervisees is defined by the contract and ends when the contract comes to an end. However, there are certain professional obligations that exist even after the contract is ended. These refer to the following points:

  • Maintaining confidentiality
  • Not exploiting the former relationship
  • Taking any after-care action as necessary

AOCS shall formally check and modify these guidelines in the light of current practice, so as to effectively assist members with ethical dilemmas or questions during supervision. 

Global Code of Ethics

The European Mentoring and Coaching Council & the Association for Coaching, jointly launched a Global Code of Ethics in February 2016. A copy of it can be downloaded here. The Global Code of Ethics demonstrates a willingness to erase some of the confusion apparent in the industry generated by the availability of a range of codes.


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