If you’re a coaching professional, you need an official life coaching contract outlining your services and setting terms for your coaching partnership with your clients. It doesn’t just show that you’re serious about your coaching business but also sets clear expectations, protects both you and your coachee in case of a disagreement, and allows you to set your own rules for the collaboration.
If this is your first time creating a life coaching contract, it might seem daunting. It might even make you question whether you really need to go through all this legal jargon and the headache to write an agreement.
The answer is yes, you absolutely should never coach without a contract — BUT, by the end of this article, you’ll see that it isn’t as scary as it may seem.
In this guide, we’ll go through everything your life coaching agreement contract should contain so you can turn all that baffling legal mumbo jumbo into a professional coaching contract that empowers you and your life coaching business.
Please note: The information we gathered in this article should not be considered legal advice. We are coaches who’ve been in the trenches, but we’re not lawyers. So, if you need professional legal advice, please seek out the help of a lawyer.
If you’re a new coach, you can download our “Free Template Pack For Coaches.”
Life Coaching Contract Template: What to Include
Parties, Date, and Signatures
This is probably a no-brainer, but in order to make your own coaching contract official, you’ll need to specify who’s signing it and when the life coaching agreement became official.
Ensure you include the full name of both you (or your coaching business) and your coachee, as well as your registered physical address. Add the date of signing (no worries about a few days of difference), and at the end, your signatures. Paperbell handles all of these details in its included contract signing tool.
Even if your life coaching contract is just a few lines on paper, this will make the client relationship legally binding. Of course, we’re not done here, so let’s move on to the other key elements of coaching agreements.
The Definition of Coaching Services
Coaching is a practice that’s often hard to pin down. The outcome of your life coach services depends on the coachee just as much as your expertise. The change is co-created by you and your client in coaching conversations, and it isn’t as tangible as other commonly known services.
To shed some light on what life coaching as a service is, here’s how the sample contract of the International Coaching Federation describes it:
Life coaching is a partnership (defined as an alliance, not a legal business partnership) between the Coach and the Client in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires the client to maximize personal and professional potential. It is designed to facilitate the creation/development of personal, professional, or business goals and to develop and carry out a strategy/plan for achieving those goals.
Some business services have clearer outputs than others. But life coaching gets a bit fuzzier — especially in coaching specialties like spirituality or emotional well-being.
Remember, you don’t have to guarantee or prove the desired change in your client’s life. A coaching relationship is a collaboration; you’re not responsible for your client’s transformation alone. What you do commit to is to carry out your services in a professional way.
Lastly, the line between coaching, therapy, consultancy, and mentoring often gets blurry. So, your coachee must understand you’re not providing therapy or mental health diagnosis to them. Your coaching agreements can outline the exact services you offer and don’t offer to them to make this clear.
Use of Information
Your confidentiality clause should include that all information discussed in your sessions or shared beyond the sessions stays confidential. You should also mention that you don’t store personal details about your client for identity theft protection. This shows that you follow ethical standards in your coaching practice, even if you’re not certified.
It’s also worth mentioning that they are responsible for bringing honest information to the sessions, as the success of your work as a life coach is reliant on that. But of course, they are free to decide what to share or not share with you as a part of the coaching work. You can either include this in the contract or mention it to your client in person. This will benefit the coach-client relationship and ensure you both have the same goals for your life coaching journey.
The Description of Your Specific Life Coaching Services
The basis of any life coaching service agreement is that you, as a life coach, are providing services, and your client is accepting (and normally paying for) those services. Since your life coach services are unique, you need to describe what they would involve.
If you have a well-crafted life coaching program together, that should give you a solid basis for this part of the coaching agreement.
Include the number and length of coaching sessions included in your package and that you guarantee to deliver. If you occasionally offer additional life coaching sessions for clients as you see fit, that’s okay — it’s always better to underpromise and overdeliver.
Specify in your life coaching contract if these sessions happen over a call online, in person, or via a combination of both, based on mutual agreement. If you have international clients, outline your time zone for meetings. This will help you set boundaries in terms of your availability.
If accountability, training, or group coaching are a core part of your process, you can also write them into your coaching contract. If these are simply bonuses or various tools to support your client as you see fit, then you don’t have to mention them.
The Duration of the Life Coaching Contract
Many of us have experienced life coach relationships dragging on for a long time or a prospective client disappearing into the mist. This is why it’s important to not only define the number of coaching sessions you offer but also set an expiry date.
It’s completely up to you if this time frame is two months or a year, but having it in your coaching contract guarantees, that you keep up the momentum in your coaching relationship and get paid on time. It will also outline the client’s responsibilities in booking sessions with you. You will avoid a life coach’s worst nightmare, a disgruntled client if you’re clear with your expectations from the offset.
The Fees and Payment Terms of Your Coaching Services
This is probably the most important part of your coaching agreement: Getting paid for your services on time.
Specify the amount and currency of the fees your coachee needs to pay you and the payment terms. It’s worth listing your payment methods in your life coaching contract to avoid confusion later, especially with international payments.
If you offer an installment plan, make sure that the due date is clear for each payment, whether it’s an exact date or dependent on the completion of a certain number of sessions. Most coaches request an advance payment before they start the work, which guarantees the client’s commitment. What you pay for, you care for.
Another common term in coaching contracts and service-based agreements is a clause on late payment fees. This means that if your client misses the due date for the payment, they will need to pay a flat rate or a percentage as a late payment fee. Of course, if they pay in advance, you won’t need to include this section.
If you offer refunds, make sure you are clear on your refund policy too. However, this is rarely something professional coaches do.
The Terms of Terminating the Coaching Relationship
What happens if your client changes their mind or if you need to step away from your life coaching practice because of some unforeseen reasons? Hopefully, this never happens, but it’s better to be prepared than sorry.
The first thing to set clear is when the coaching relationship is considered terminated. In other words, be clear about what the relationship entails and about when the coaching relationship is really over.
Your work is automatically considered done once you have delivered all the agreed-upon sessions. Besides, you might want to set terms for terminating the agreement if your client doesn’t show up for X sessions or breaches other important parts of the agreement.
The other thing to set straight is what happens if the coaching relationship is terminated halfway through. In most cases, you keep the advance, and you will have no further commitments towards each other. Ensure both parties agree to this before moving forward.
[ Read: How To Fire a Coaching Client ]
Rescheduling & Cancellation Policy
This is another important clause to protect yourself from being stood up as a coach and make sure your time is respected. Missed appointments shouldn’t mess with your life coach schedule.
A common practice for life coaches is to set clear rules for all their sessions, such as a 24-hour or 48-hour rescheduling or cancellation policy. This way, if your client needs to cancel the appointment at the last minute, they will understand that they will need to pay for it — or won’t be refunded if they’ve paid the fees already.
The final clause you might commonly see in life coaching contracts is the ‘miscellaneous’ section. This is normally just a section with a few additional legal requirements, such as defining under which country’s law you enter into the agreement or that you both voluntarily signed it. This will ensure you’re legally protected by local laws in your area.
If your template has something like this, you can leave it there. Otherwise, don’t worry about it.
Life Coaching Contract Templates
We recommend you use a life coaching contract template from a reliable source such as ICF or an accredited coach training center. Even if it’s a well-written coaching contract template, always read through the whole agreement to ensure each section is relevant and accurate to how you provide your services. If you’re unsure, speak to a legal advisor.
Another great coaching contract template option for life coaches is the selection of ready-made coaching contract templates from Coaches & Company.
To make it easier for you, Paperbell has prepared a free Coaching Contract template for you 👇 Just click the image and make a copy of the Google Doc.
How & When To Get Your Contract Signed
The easiest way to get your coaching contract signed is to use a digital signature tool (like Paperbell). This way, you can skip printing papers and ensure the coaching agreement is legally binding. Get the service agreements done before you begin any work with your client (except your free discovery session, of course), and make sure you have clear expectations between the two of you.
Paperbell makes it super simple to get your contracts signed by clients digitally and to have them all in one place.
Your clients will pay their advance payment when signing your coaching agreement, and Paperbell only allows them to proceed and schedule their first session once this is settled. This means you never have to chase clients for payments again, and you can easily find your contracts to refer back to later on.
What Happens If Your Client Breaches Your Life Coaching Contract?
If your client disrespects the terms of your coaching agreement, the best dispute resolution is to have a conversation with them first and iron out any misunderstanding between the two of you. If they’ve missed a payment, you should absolutely stop the coaching work until that’s settled; it’s only fair. How can you run a life coaching business if you’re not getting paid?
If you cannot sort things out by yourself, you can always ask for help from a legal professional.
In most cases, though, a crisp life coaching contract agreement and a great discovery session are all you need to get on the same page with your clients.
FAQs About Coaching Contracts
Individual Coaching Vs. Group Coaching: Is the Contract Different?
If you’re a group coach, your contracts will still look the same as if you’re conducting one-on-one sessions. You don’t have to create a different group coaching agreement because you’re still agreeing with each client individually about the terms of the coaching relationship.
Optionally, you can mention any group coaching sessions, peer coaching, or any other elements of your coaching program in your contract where you describe your services.
What Should a Coaching Contract Include?
At the minimum, your coaching contract should include the name and address of both you and your clients, and it should state what services you’ll deliver and how much you’ll get paid for them.
It’s also worth including your terms about contract termination and session cancellation, as these might differ from coach to coach and often lead to misunderstandings.
For a more detailed description of what your coaching contract should include, see our guide and template shared above.
How Do You Write a Coaching Agreement?
You can use one of the templates shared above to write your own coaching contract. Make sure you always read through each clause of your sample agreement and modify it according to your terms and services.
If you’re unsure what a certain section means or how to express your terms in legally binding language, it’s always better to consult a legal professional. Having a well-crafted coaching agreement can serve your business for years to come and offer a point of reference for any disputes.
Where Should I Store My Coaching Contracts?
Disputes can arise even years after a coaching agreement is complete, so you must store all your contracts digitally in one central platform or folder.
Paperbell handles your contract signing and stores your contracts for each client in your all-in-one client hub. You can always access any client information here about agreements, materials shared, sessions booked, and payments processed for each person you work with.
What Happens If My Client Isn’t Willing to Sign the Contract?
You should never enter a coaching relationship without a contract signed. If your client is unwilling to sign the agreement, you should refuse to work with them.
Your contract protects you legally in the future and reinforces the terms of how you deliver your services. If you’re okay with making a slight modification for a particular client in one of your terms, you can revise their contract. However, think twice before agreeing to change your agreement terms — you set them for a reason. Clients who aren’t okay with your process, pricing, or cancellation policy might not be worth working with.
Once the contract is signed, neither you nor your client can request modifications. Once your signatures are there, the agreement is legally binding.
Create A Simple Coaching Contract
So that’s it; it’s time to get your life coaching contract up-to-date and ready for your next client to sign.
Having a contract ready to go will save time in the long run and show your clients how professional you are. That way, all you need to focus on is what you love doing the most: Helping your clients get to where they want to be.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2023 and has since been updated for accuracy.