We’re sitting with a coachee, either in a first exploratory meeting or further along in the coaching relationship, and it dawns on us that the individual in front of us is contemplating suicide. Maybe it’s been stated openly, or maybe we’re getting the feeling that the coachee is moving in that direction. What should we do?
This may be an extreme situation, but as coaches we cannot know if and when such a dilemma will confront us. We can, however, be prepared if and when it does. Suicidal coachees or individuals dealing with other kinds of crises which affect their mental capacity deserve that we’ve thought through how to handle such situations, and it’s our ethical duty to make sure we’ve done our homework.
That’s why this time I’ll be highlighting two recent documents produced by the International Coach Federation (ICF). They were prepared with the express intention of ensuring we have guidance at our fingertips to clarify the most helpful options, as well as proven pathways to follow which we can be assured will help our coachees optimally. I’d recommend we read both of these documents carefully as soon as we can, and have the reference sheet with us at all times:
- When and How to Refer a Client to Therapy or Other Helping Professionals (reference sheet)
- Referring a Client to Therapy. A Set of Guidelines (the more detailed white paper)
A blog post can’t possibly do justice to all the valuable material presented, so here I’m focusing on 4 important topics: