CKA Question: A Client Asks for Career and Addictions Coaching

April 19, 2018 by Coach Training EDU

This is the second practice question in our series dedicated to preparing for the International Coach Federation’s Coach Knowledge Assessment. Consider the question below.Which answer seems to be aligned with the expectations of a life coach, and why? Then look at the explanation that follows.


The Cycle of Addiction Question

What should a coach do when a client approaches them concerning addiction? In an introductory interview, imagine a client wants to prepare themselves for a promotion. In this example, the expectation includes understanding how a cycle of addiction is interfering with career development. Therefore, it is best for the coach to:

A. Ask further powerful questions to help the client develop measurable outcomes for the entire coaching arrangement.

B. Inform the client that understanding and addressing a cycle of addiction is the work of appropriately trained counselors.

C. Suggest that the coach and client primarily focus on earning the promotion and career development while visiting the status of the client’s addiction from time to time.

D. Ask clarifying questions to determine if the type of addiction falls under the expertise of the coach. If it does, the coach can then inform the client that they can use the coaching to address both concerns.


Explanation

Coaches are responsible for understanding the difference between coaching and counseling. The ICF guidelines related to this question are found under Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards:

  • “[A coach] clearly communicates the distinctions between coaching, consulting, psychotherapy and other support professions.”
  • “[A coach] refers clients to another support professional as needed, knowing when this is needed and the available resources.”

Below are potential options for handling a situation where a client comes to a coach about dealing with addiction. 

Should the coach:

A. Ask further powerful questions to help the client develop measurable outcomes for the entire coaching arrangement.

When reading through possible answers in the CKA, it is critical to determine what is being asked and which Core Competencies apply to the given question. Here, powerful questions are not needed, since the coach needs to first clarify the difference between coaching and counseling.

B. Inform the client that understanding and addressing a cycle of addiction is the work of appropriately trained counselors.

This is the correct answer, even if it is not 100% complete. Coaches must explain how coaching can and cannot help their clients. If a potential client expresses the desire to work with a coach in order to address an addiction or a similar area of brokenness, the coach must directly inform the client of the work of a coach as opposed to the work of a counselor. What is missing from this answer is the need to refer a client to the appropriate support professional. Also, there are times when a coach may support a client who is concurrently undergoing therapy; however that is not an answer option in the CKA.

C. Suggest that the coach and client primarily focus on earning the promotion and career development while visiting the status of the client’s addiction from time to time.

This answer option must be read to the end. The first portion of the question could be a possible option for this coach and client IF AND ONLY IF the client has already demonstrated that they are undergoing therapy for their addiction. The key element that makes this question a breach of coaching ethics is the fact that the answer is incomplete and, because of the ambiguity, makes it appear that the coach will be partially addressing the addiction through “visiting its status.”

D. Ask clarifying questions to determine if the type of addiction falls under the expertise of the coach. If it does, the coach can then inform the client that they can use the coaching to address both concerns.

This option must be rejected in that it states that coaching can address counseling as long as the coach has the appropriate training. Even if a coach were also a licensed addictions counselor, the addiction-oriented work would not be addressed through coaching but rather through counseling and therapy. In this way, the end of the possible answer is what makes it clear that the coach would be crossing the lines of coaching ethics.

If you would like further support in pursuing your credential through the International Coach Federation, consider joining one of our training programs. Also, if you are about to take the ICF’s Coach Knowledge Assessment, click this link for more practice questions and see this blog post for further support.

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