Life Coaching in Cyberspace
The advent of the internet opened our eyes to the world in away we never really thought possible. From sharing news stories across the globe to instant, free communication from almost anywhere, its possibilities are endless. While for many the greatest invention after the internet was social media, for others it has become a lifeline, a way to reach out and access the help and support they need.
The internet opens many doors for life coaches and their clients. For the client it means less travelling, the ability to communicate with their coach during their lunch break, and a chance to leave questions, comments, and concerns for their life coach between sessions so nothing is missed or forgotten.
For life coaches it means they can work more effectively, widen their client base, and schedule sessions around their clients’ busy lives. It provides new forms of communication, new ways of sharing information, and access to a greater number of resources and learning opportunities.
But, the internet and its use within a coaching context is not without dangers and difficulties. Privacy is of paramount importance whether working face to face or across a live video phone app. Data protection and codes of conduct still need to be adhered to. Of course, when working online there are other concerns that you may not have needed to consider when working in a private office environment. A simple keystroke could leave you or your client and their information vulnerable.
So, how do you reap the benefits, for you and your client, of working with technology and especially the internet, while ensuring you maintain privacy and data security? These tips should help you avoid the major pitfalls.
Consider Your Working Space
Usually coaching sessions take place in your office. You are guaranteed privacy because it is a safe space that you both feel comfortable in. The same principle applies if communicating over the internet. Whether you are working from the office or a quiet space at home, you need to ensure that you are not disturbed or overheard. You also need to ensure the same is true for your client at their end. Starting a session by checking that they are alone, comfortable, and happy to continue is a good place to start.
Securing Your Connection
It goes without saying that you should never conduct a life coaching session over a public Wi-Fi or even data connection. This puts your immediate connection and your equipment at risk of being hacked. Use a private connection that is secured, and password protected. If you must use a public connection because you are traveling, for example, then consider investing in a quality VPN (Virtual Private Network) software. This type of software provides end to end encryption and hides your IP address, making you almost invisible online.
Choosing secure passwords is part of our everyday existence in the modern world, but still too often people rely on easy to remember words and names for many of them. Random letters and numbers are generally more secure, as are using a mixture of upper and lower-case letters and including special characters. It is important to use different passwords for different elements, even within the same piece of equipment. So, just as you wouldn’t use the same password for your bank and your streaming service, so too you shouldn’t use the same password to secure client’s notes and your video phone app for example. Some examples of things that should be password protected include:
· Your laptop, computer, or tablet that you use for coaching.
· Your internet connection.
· Your email account.
· Your video phone app.
· Individual client files or folders.
· Any private information you keep on the computer.
· Your internet browser.
It may sound obvious, but if you are honest with yourself, how many times do you finish an email session or a chat session, and not sign out before closing the app? Passwords only protect you, if the app requires you to sign in, and this means signing out at the end of every session so that you need to sign in again to use it.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of ways to stay safe online. One key thing you need to consider separately to these tips is how you are going to approach your first online session with a new client, especially if you have not met in the real, rather than cyber, world. What checks are you going to put in place to ensure your safety and to check that they are who they say they are? What you decide should be based on how you normally vet clients, but with the knowledge that it is easier to hide who you are in cyberspace.
When done with the right approach to privacy and security, and with the right support cyberspace life coaching can help you to reach new clients and provide an enhanced service to existing ones. And that, of course, is at the heart of everything we do within the life coaching profession.
Is Life Coaching for You?
Are you considering life coaching as the next step in your career? Read on to learn more about becoming a life coach. Are you already a life coach? Are you looking for a way to develop your business and help raise standards across the coaching sector? Visit the accreditation page to see how accreditation could help you.