How To Get Consent & Record Coaching Sessions, Plus Why You May Want To Try It! | By Kerryn Griffiths

Man on phoneNervous about recording your coaching sessions for certification? Worrying how you get consent from your clients, or what technology to use? Or perhaps you're even wondering why bother? Read on and Kerryn will explain all...

Until you've listened to a recording of yourself coach, you can't begin to imagine the learning that comes from just that process.

Mostly, listening to your own session recordings builds your own awareness around what you already know. Awareness in itself, as we know from coaching our clients, can be enough to create change. However, if you then get a mentor to listen to the recording, this builds on your own awareness, as your mentor uses her/his knowledge and experience to acknowledge the strengths that you might take for granted, strengthen your weaknesses and highlight your blind spots.

In addition, the submission of recordings of coaching sessions is necessary for some coach credential/certification applications such as the ICF (International Coach Federation) portfolio route or IAC (International Association of Coaching) certification,  both of which require the submission of session recordings to be assessed.

When was the last time you listened to yourself coach?

Most people hate hearing the sound of their own voice when it's recorded. They cringe just at the thought of it and avoid it wherever possible. Unfortunately, if you’re a coach AND suffer from this phobia, you might need to get some coaching on it to get over it if you want to develop your coaching skills and professional profile fully!

Recording your coaching sessions so you can listen back to them yourself is an essential part of your own reflective practice and professional development as a coach. It is also important for mentoring and credentialing/certification processes.

If you're able to get past the above mentioned cringe-factor, but are still not recording your sessions, maybe you're getting stuck on one of these two hurdles:

  1. Obtaining client consent
    and
  2. Physically making the recordings

This article will give you some suggestions for how to get consent to record your sessions with your clients and how to actually record your sessions, so that before you know it, you'll be cringing - and learning - as you listen to yourself coach!

1. How to get your clients' consent to record sessions

Obtaining permission to record coaching sessions can be challenging. Not all coaches feel comfortable asking their clients for their consent to record sessions, and not all clients feel comfortable knowing their sessions are being recorded. A lot of clients feel self-conscious about having their session recorded, and many people, coaches included, are uncomfortable with the privacy implications. In addition, recording sessions in some situations is simply not possible, as the nature of the coaching relationship simply won't allow it e.g. many corporate or third-party coaching arrangements. However, there is another option which I talk about below.

But first, I can't stress enough how valuable it is to listen to a recording of yourself coaching an actual client, whom you are coaching over a period of time (it's completely different from the often impromptu triad/buddy coaching you might have done when training).

The best way to get permission to record authentic coaching sessions is to include a phrase in your standard coaching agreement that says something like:

"Your coaching sessions may at times be recorded. Such recordings are used for training and development purposes only and your anonymity will be preserved. Before sharing any of your session recordings with a coaching mentor, supervisor or assessor, I will always ask your written consent pertaining to the restricted release of a particular session recording first. You may also request a copy of any of your session recordings at anytime, and if a recording of that session has been made, it will be made accessible to you. You may also request that all your sessions be recorded, and all recordings made accessible to you at the end of each session. If you would prefer that none of your sessions are recorded, you may also advise me accordingly."

By doing this, you can record sessions as a part of your regular professional development practice and develop an ongoing practice of listening to your own sessions recordings on a regular basis.

Plus, by offering the recordings to your clients, this can become an added value in your service.

Another option to get recordings of your coaching:

If none of your clients are appropriate for making session recordings, or you can't get yourself to feel comfortable asking for consent, the ICF and ReciproCoach both provide reciprocal peer coaching services and regularly run "recorded session" rounds. In these recorded sessions rounds, you get assigned both a coach and a client for reciprocal peer coaching, but the difference is that all participants consent in advance to allowing their sessions to be recorded, and so you get a minimum of six recordings of your own sessions to learn and develop from - or use for certification!

2. How to actually make the recording

There are several ways to record your coaching sessions, depending on whether you're recording face-to-face or phone sessions:

  1. iPhone or smartphone
  2. Skype or Zoom
  3. Phone
  4. Conference line
  5. Other recording device

Recording face-to-face sessions

Recording face-to-face sessions is easy with an iPhone, smartphone or another recording device. Alternatively, if you don't have a smartphone, Sony has a digital voice recorder (called an IC Recorder) available for about $100. There are also many other recording apps that can be purchased for smartphones if you do an internet search.

Recording phone sessions

You can buy digital voice recorders that plug into the telephone and can record telephone conversations, but they seem to only be found on spy websites (?!), cost about $200 and don't have the best recording quality. For this reason, the following options for recording sessions are preferred:

  • Skype: Skype recordings are easy to get and the recordings themselves are great quality. Try iFree Skype Recorder for a PC or Call Recorder for a Mac. You might have seen that the ICF (International Coach Federation) does not recommend Skype for recording coaching sessions. However, the actual wording of this recommendation says, "Use of services such as Skype are not recommended to produce recordings for the performance evaluation due to possible disconnections during the session." Therefore, if you're using Skype to record lots of sessions, and as drop outs, disconnections, fade-outs and echoes are becoming rarer as Skype improves its quality, using Skype is in fact a very easy and effective means of recording coaching sessions. You don't even have to meet your client on Skype. If you add credit to your Skype account, you can use it to call your client on their normal phone, if s/he prefers phone to Skype, or you can buy a Skype phone number, so your client doesn't even know they're calling you on Skype.
  • Zoom Conferencing: Audio or video. Easy to use and fast becoming a business standard.
  • Conference Calls: Most conference rooms have a recording facility and if you don't want to use Skype or a digital voice recorder to record phone sessions, you can arrange to meet your client in your conference room. Some conferences also allow you to call your client, so your client does not need to call into the conference room. Do a Google search for a local phone conference provider. Conference systems I've tried are freeconference.com and freeconferencing.com, Pow Wow Now and TurboBridge. Many conference providers have a list of local numbers around the world that your clients can call, so they are not making a long distance call.

After you get consent to record your sessions and decide on the most efficient way of recording them, many coaches find that once they begin listening to recordings of their own sessions, they get into a routine of doing it regularly. If time is limited, they will listen to them while they are doing some mindless task e.g. ironing or dishes. I get so much out of listening to my session recordings that I almost started ironing just to listen to more of them!

Are you convinced of the value and ease of recording your sessions yet? If you are, ask yourself, which of your clients you could ask for consent to record a session. Alternatively, try adding the suggested wording to your current coaching agreement, and see if your next client consents. If neither of those options work for you, think about joining one of the "Recorded Sessions Rounds" with the ICF or ReciproCoach (where your clients have pre-approved being recorded).

Finally, consider which recording method would best suit your business and your technical capacity, and do a few test runs. Before you know it, you'll be listening to your own coaching and making improvements so your coaching becomes much more powerful than it already is.

kerryn_green_sml_adjContributing Author: Kerryn Griffiths, PhD (coaching and learning), is the founder and global coordinator of ReciproCoach, an international community of professional coaches for fun and affordable reciprocal peer coaching, mentoring and supervision. Join over 2000 like-minded coaches at ReciproCoach.com with the coupon code: CoachingToolsCo and not only will you be on your way to having your own coach, but you'll also receive a year's subscription to your choice of one of the ReciproCoach Business resources ($25 value).

Here are the key details about "Recorded Sessions Rounds":

  • Number of sessions: 6. You give 6 coaching sessions and also receive 6 coaching sessions (Mentoring is extra - and can also be arranged through your ReciproCoach membership)
  • Session length: 30min
  • Frequency: Weekly
  • Price: Currently under review - but very affordable!
  • Certification/Credentialing: Yes, you can use up to 6 of these recorded sessions as part of your certification or credentialing.
  • How to schedule sessions: You schedule sessions at times that suit you and your assigned reciprocal partners.
  • How to record the sessions: You will need to record the sessions yourself - so see this article!

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2 Comments

  1. Bonnie H. Howell

    Do you have any examples of permission slips to allow a third party assessor to listen in on a coaching session live, real time. A coaching certification I'm currently applying for requires one recorded session and one live session as part of the certification process

    Reply

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