ICF Coaching Agreement: Ultimate Guide 2024

Unlock the full potential of your coaching and fast-track your client’s progress with an ICF Coaching Agreement. If you foster the process to deepen the connection to your client it will be a game-changing approach that leads to exceptional results.


  • If you use a coaching agreement the right way you can strengthen the connection with your client and enhance your results
  • A considered tone of voice while creating a coaching agreement with your client creates rapport
  • The following lists and questions help you to create a complete coaching agreement without missing anything

What is an ICF Coaching Agreement?

An ICF Coaching Agreement is a crucial legal document that gets a successful coach/client relationship off on the right foot. It acts as a roadmap, outlining the expectations, responsibilities, and goals of both the coach and the client. By establishing clear guidelines, it helps foster a trusting and transparent environment, crucial for achieving desired outcomes.

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The Essence of a Coaching Agreement

  • Purpose and Scope: This section defines the overall purpose of the coaching relationship, outlining the specific areas of focus and the intended outcomes.
  • Roles and Responsibilities: Here, the coach and client acknowledges their respective roles, ensuring both parties understand the ground rules, their duties and expectations.
  • Confidentiality: To maintain trust, the agreement specifies the degree of confidentiality and the limits that apply to sharing information.
  • Duration and Frequency: This part establishes the length of the coaching relationship and the frequency of sessions, allowing both parties to plan and commit accordingly.
  • Fees and Payment: Transparency in financial matters is essential, and this section details the fees, payment terms, and any applicable cancellation policies.
  • Termination Clause: It’s important to have a well-defined process for ending the coaching relationship, and this clause provides a clear and amicable way to do so.

Why Do You Need a Coaching Agreement?

A well-crafted Coaching Agreement ensures that both you and the client are on the same page. It minimizes misunderstandings, sets the stage for open communication, and allows for adjustments as needed. This, in turn, leads to a more effective coaching experience that benefits both you and the client.

Remember, a Coaching Agreement is not just a formality; it’s a valuable tool that helps establish a solid foundation for a transformative coaching journey. So, take the time to create a comprehensive and thoughtful agreement that reflects the unique needs and goals of your coaching relationship.

Core Competencies by ICF: Establishing and Maintaining the Coaching Agreement

The ICF Core Competency “Establishing the Coaching Agreement” is one of the eight core competencies defined by the International Coach Federation (ICF) as essential skills for professional coaches. This competency focuses on the ability of a coach to effectively define and clarify the coaching relationship, ensuring both the coach and the client have a mutual understanding of the objectives, scope, and expectations involved in the full coaching engagement process.

Establishing the ICF Coaching Agreement involves the following key elements:

  1. Understanding the client’s needs: The coach actively listens and seeks to understand the client’s desired outcomes, goals, and concerns, as well as their current situation and context.
  2. Collaboration: The coach works with the prospective client to create a coaching agreement that is customized to their unique needs and objectives, fostering a sense of partnership and shared responsibility.
  3. Clarification of roles: The coach clarifies their role in the coaching relationship, as well as the role of the prospective and new client, ensuring both parties have a clear understanding of what is expected of them.
  4. Defining the scope and focus: The coach and client agree on the specific areas of focus and the intended outcomes of the coaching process, establishing a clear roadmap for the coaching journey.
  5. Agreeing on logistics: The coach and client establish the practical aspects of the coaching relationship, such as the duration, frequency, and mode of sessions, as well as fees and payment terms.

By effectively establishing the ICF coaching agreement, coaches can create a strong foundation for a successful and productive coaching relationship that fosters trust, open communication, and progress toward the client’s goals.

What Should the Coaching Agreement Include? / What Should a Coaching Agreement Comprise Of?

A comprehensive ICF Coaching Agreement serves as a solid foundation for a successful coaching relationship, outlining the expectations, responsibilities, and goals of both the coach and the client. Here’s a detailed list of what a Coaching Agreement should include:

1. Contact Information

Include the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of both the coach and the client, ensuring clear channels of communication.

2. Definition of Coaching

Provide a clear definition of coaching, clarifying its purpose, scope, and distinction from other professional services (e.g., therapy, consulting).

3. Coaching Relationship

Describe the nature of the coaching relationship, emphasizing the roles and responsibilities of both the coach and the client.

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4. Services

Outline the specific coaching services to be provided, such as the type of coaching, areas of focus, and any additional resources or tools offered.

5. Fees and Payments

Clearly state the fees for the life coaching services, payment terms, and any applicable discounts, as well as the preferred method of payment.

6. The Coaching Process

Explain the overall coaching process, including the frequency, duration, and mode of sessions (in-person, phone, or video).

7. The Coaching Approach

Describe the coach or team’s approach or methodology, including any specific techniques, models, or frameworks used during the coaching sessions.

8. Confidentiality

Detail the confidentiality and ethics policy, including the extent of confidentiality and any legal or ethical limits to maintaining client confidentiality.

9. Client’s Expectations and Goals

Include a section where the client can articulate their expectations, desired outcomes, and specific goals for the coaching partnership.

10. Rescheduling and Cancellation Policy

Establish a clear policy for rescheduling or canceling coaching sessions, including any fees or penalties associated with last-minute cancellations.

11. Termination

Include a termination clause that outlines the process for ending the contract or coaching relationship, either by mutual agreement or due to a breach of the agreement.

12. Limited Liability

Include a clause limiting the coach’s liability, stating that the coaching services are provided “as is” and that the client is solely responsible for their own actions and decisions.

13. Dispute Resolution

Specify a dispute resolution process, such as mediation or arbitration, in case of any disagreements or conflicts arising from the coaching relationship.

14. Waiver, Applicable Law, Binding Effect

Include a waiver clause stating that the failure to enforce any provision of the agreement does not constitute a waiver of future enforcement. Also, mention the applicable law governing the agreement and its binding effect on both parties and their successors.

15. Signature

Finally, provide a space for both the coach and the client to sign and date the Coaching Agreement, acknowledging their understanding and acceptance of its terms and conditions.

ICF Coaching Agreement Sample

In this article, you find some practical examples and templates of ICF coaching agreements: ICF Sample Coaching Agreement – Free & Simple Templates

When to Establish the Coaching Agreement

Establishing the ICF Coaching Agreement is a vital first step in any coaching relationship, and it should be done at the very beginning, ideally during the initial consultation or discovery session. This ensures that both the coach and the client have a mutual understanding of the objectives, expectations, and boundaries before embarking on their coaching journey.

Two Levels of Coaching Agreement

In a coaching relationship, there are two levels of specific coaching interaction and agreements that need to be considered and established: the overall Coaching Agreement and individual Session Agreements. Both levels are essential in ensuring a successful and effective coaching experience.

1. Overall Coaching Agreement

Like shown above the overall coaching agreement is a formal document that outlines the expectations, responsibilities, and goals of both the coach and the client throughout the entire coaching relationship. 

2. Individual Session Agreements

An individual Session Agreement is established at the beginning of each coaching session and focuses on the specific objectives, desired outcomes, and topics to be addressed during that particular session. These agreements are more flexible and can be adjusted as needed to reflect the client’s evolving needs and goals. A Session Agreement typically includes:

  • Session objectives: Clearly define the goals and desired outcomes for the specific coaching session.
  • Topics for discussion: Identify the specific issues or challenges to be addressed during the session.
  • Time allocation: Allocate time for each topic or goal, ensuring a well-structured and focused session.
  • Check-in and progress review: Assess the client’s progress toward their overall coaching goals and make any necessary adjustments.
  • Action steps and commitments: Identify actionable steps the client will take following the session, along with any commitments or deadlines.

Establishing both levels of coaching agreements helps create a strong foundation for the coaching relationship, ensuring clarity and focus on the client’s goals and objectives, and promoting a sense of partnership and shared responsibility between the coach and the client.

How to Establish the Session Agreement

Establishing a Session Agreement at the beginning of each coaching session is essential for keeping the session focused, aligned with the client’s goals, and productive. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to establish a Session Agreement:

1. Check in with the client

Start the session by checking in with the client, asking about their current state, any updates or progress since the last session, and addressing any immediate concerns or challenges.

2. Review previous session commitments

Discuss any action steps or commitments made during the previous session, evaluate the client’s progress, and identify any obstacles or successes they encountered.

3. Identify session objectives

Ask the client about their goals and desired outcomes for the current session. Encourage them to be specific and clear about what they want to achieve or discuss during the session. Use active listening.

4. Set the agenda

Together with the client, create an agenda for the session that includes the topics to be discussed or explored. Ensure the agenda aligns with the session objectives and overall coaching goals.

5. Allocate time

Allocate an appropriate amount of time for each agenda item or topic, ensuring a well-structured and focused session. Be mindful of the total session duration and adjust the time allocations accordingly.

6. Establish boundaries and expectations

Clarify any boundaries or expectations for the session, such as maintaining confidentiality, respecting each other’s opinions, and being fully present and engaged in the conversation.

7. Agree on the Session Agreement

Once the objectives, agenda, and time allocations have been established, confirm the Session Agreement with the client, ensuring they understand and agree with the plan for the session.

8. Begin the coaching session

With the Session Agreement in place, proceed with the coaching session, following the established agenda and focusing on the client’s goals and desired outcomes.

9. Adjust as needed

Throughout the session, be prepared to make adjustments to the Session Agreement if new insights or challenges arise. Always maintain open communication with the client and remain flexible in addressing their needs.

10. Recap and set action steps

At the end of the session, recap the main takeaways, insights, and accomplishments. Together with the client, identify actionable steps, commitments, or deadlines to be addressed before the next session.

By following these steps to establish a Session Agreement, you’ll ensure a focused, productive, and goal-oriented coaching session that effectively supports your client’s growth and progress.

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ICF Coaching Agreement Questions

Asking practical questions while establishing a coaching contract and agreement helps ensure both the coach and client are on the same page, fostering a successful coaching relationship. Here are some practical questions to consider:

  • 1. What specific goals or outcomes would you like to achieve through this mentoring and coaching relationship?
  • 2. What areas of your life or work do you want to focus on during our sessions?
  • 3. How would you describe your preferred coaching style or approach?
  • 4. What are your expectations regarding the role and responsibilities of both the coach and the client?
  • 5. How often would you like to have coaching sessions, and what duration would you prefer for each session?
  • 6. What is your preferred mode of communication for coaching sessions (in-person, phone, video, or a combination)?
  • 7. How do you prefer to communicate between sessions (email, phone, text)?
  • 8. What is your understanding of the confidentiality policy and are there any concerns or specific requirements you’d like to address?
  • 9. What is your preferred payment method, and are you comfortable with the payment terms and fees?
  • 10. What is your understanding of the rescheduling, cancellation and refund policy?
  • 11. Under what circumstances or conditions would you consider terminating the coaching relationship?
  • 12. Are there any potential obstacles or challenges that you foresee in this coaching relationship, and how would you like to address them?
  • 13. What kind of support, training, or resources would you like to receive from your coach outside of the coaching sessions?

By addressing these practical questions in the coaching agreement, you can create a strong foundation for a transparent, trusting, and effective coaching relationship that supports the client’s growth and progress.

More Tips for negotiating and finalizing a coaching agreement

Negotiating and finalizing the coaching agreement is a crucial step in establishing a successful coaching relationship. The following tips can help any life coach and their clients navigate the negotiation process and reach a mutually beneficial agreement:

1. Prepare in advance

Before negotiating, you should both have a clear understanding of your expectations, needs, and goals. This preparation will facilitate a more focused and efficient negotiation process.

2. Open communication

Encourage open and honest communication throughout the negotiation process. Your client should feel comfortable discussing their concerns, preferences, and expectations. 

3. Be flexible

You should be willing to compromise and adapt to meet your client’s needs. Flexibility is key to finding a set of terms that are mutually agreed.

4. Focus on the client’s needs

You should prioritize the client’s needs and goals while negotiating the agreement. Use active listening to find the underlying desire of your client.

5. Take your time

Don’t rush the negotiation process. Effective contracting requires sufficient time for both parties to carefully consider the terms of the agreement and make any necessary adjustments.

Practical Examples Of The Benefits Of A Coaching Agreement

Case Study 1: Improving Communication and Trust

In one situation, I utilized an ICF coaching agreement while working with a client who struggled with their emotional health and had communication issues in their personal relationships. By establishing a clear and transparent coaching agreement that outlined the coaching process, confidentiality, and expectations, I was able to foster trust and open communication with my client. Ultimately, this strong foundation led to significant improvements in their relationships and communication skills.

Case Study 2: Enhancing Career Development

In another case, I used an ICF coaching agreement to assist a client in overcoming challenges in their professional development. The agreement clarified the coaching approach, goals, and responsibilities, enabling my client to fully understand the process and engage proactively in their career growth. As a result, the client successfully achieved promotion and felt more confident in their ability to navigate professional life challenges.

Case Study 3: Supporting Health and Wellness Goals

I once worked with success with a client aiming to achieve weight loss and improved well-being by employing an ICF coaching agreement. This structured agreement defined my client’s goals, expectations, and role in providing guidance and support. With a clear understanding of our coaching relationship, my client was able to fully commit to the process and ultimately reached their health goals, resulting in increased self-confidence and a healthier lifestyle.

These practical examples showcase the value of using an ICF coaching agreement in various coaching scenarios. By establishing a solid foundation, I was able to develop trust, set clear expectations, and work effectively with my clients to achieve their desired outcomes.


In conclusion, the ICF coaching agreement is an invaluable tool that has consistently proven its effectiveness in my coaching practice. By establishing a solid foundation with clear expectations and a well-defined coaching relationship, I have been able to develop trust and rapport with my clients. This has ultimately led to successful coaching outcomes, be it in the areas of communication, career development, or health and wellness. Implementing an ICF coaching agreement is a crucial step in ensuring a productive and rewarding coaching journey for life coaches and their clients, paving the way for transformative growth and lasting change.

Related: ICF Sample Coaching Agreement – Free & Simple Templates

About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.