Life Coaching Terms and Conditions to Keep The Drama Out of Your Coaching Business

terms and conditions for coaches

As a coach, you want to model healthy boundaries and low drama for your clients. If you use clear life coaching terms and conditions when your clients purchase coaching sessions from you, you will build a healthy coaching relationship from the get-go and lower everyone’s stress at the same time! 

If you aren’t sure where to start with putting together your T&Cs, check out the coaching terms and conditions template in this post.

What are Life Coaching Terms & Conditions?

Terms and conditions just mean an agreement or legal contract that people agree to automatically when they purchase a service or product.

The idea is that everyone is automatically bound (or legally obligated) to the terms of your Terms & Conditions without having to sign a formal document. 

But this “automatic” process isn’t actually automatic unless you do it right. Life coach terms and conditions need to be specific to the services you are providing. They are a way to ensure both you and your client get what you want from your mutual agreement and coaching relationship.

How To Apply Your Terms and Conditions Without Signing a Contract

It’s not enough to have the terms in some random back-corner or footnote of your website. If you want your clients to be bound to your terms, you must link the terms from where your clients are buying coaching sessions and have them actually agree to the Terms. 

For example, when you make a purchase from Amazon, they state, “by placing your order, you agree to Amazon’s privacy notice and conditions of use” right below the “Place this Order” button, by clicking this button, the client agrees to Amazon’s terms. You may not have actually noticed it, but you have an opportunity to read the linked privacy notice and conditions of use each time you make a purchase from Amazon. That’s why you are bound to their Privacy Policy and their terms. 

When To Use a Contract or Electronic Signature

For some of your high-end programs, or if your coaching process is complicated or long-term, you may want to require your clients to check a box or even sign a document using e-sign software. This is especially helpful if you want to alert clients to terms like delayed recurring payments or if it is an intensive mentorship-type program where you want them to agree to specific rules of behavior. 

What Goes into an Online Coaching Agreement? 

The first section of any legal agreement covers the basics of what each side will deliver: what you are doing, what they are doing, and what neither of you will do.

If you are only selling one type of service or product on your website, your terms might describe your coaching sessions or programs in detail, stating how long the coaching sessions will be and how many are in each package, or whether you sell them on a per session basis, for example.

But if you sell many types of services and products, your coaching agreement might state something general like “the product or service as described on the sales page as of the date of your purchase.”

Exactly What to Include: Timing, Delivery, Downloads, Expiration

In this section describe any limitations on timing or delivery, such as how long they have to use further coaching sessions or whether they are allowed to download multiple copies of an ebook. If you have a service or product that expires after a certain timeframe, check with local laws to determine if you need to give a refund or credit.

Explain What Isn’t Included

Don’t forget to include what you are not including as part of your coaching services or products. 

For example, some clients may assume that email coaching or texting is included in any coaching program. Some coaches do their coaching both in-person and virtually, but some only do coaching via telephone and video conference. You may or may not provide recordings of calls (get their permission now to record their voice and/or image).

Make it clear what additional products or coaching sessions you provide will require extra or advanced payments. Clarity is important to avoid misunderstandings later.  

Set Clear Expectations For Client Behavior

Let your clients know how you expect them to behave throughout your coaching schedule. 

You likely expect them to show up on time for coaching sessions, do preparation work such as readings or “homework” assignments, or perhaps communicate with you regularly regarding their progress. Outlining your client’s tasks ahead of time will help deepen your coaching relationship, manage expectations, and help you track your client’s progress.

You may also include information here about appointment policies such as rescheduling or rearranging sessions. Should the client notify you at least 24 hours ahead of time?

What are your no-show, and policies about refunds for coaching services, Do you charge a per session fee for cancellation and is canceling only allowed last-minute if an emergency occurs? Be clear about the only instances clients can get a full refund or chance to book a subsequent session for their coaching sessions.

If you have group programs or online forums, have rules regarding spam, hate speech, confidentiality, and how they will communicate with their fellow students. This will avoid any inappropriate behavior and stand as a mutual agreement among students of your programs.

Getting Paid, Refund Policies, & Late Fees

Your Terms & Conditions will also contain a description of how your coaching clients follow your payment terms, will pay you, and pay you on time for their coaching sessions.  

If you have clients purchasing sessions or programs online, most likely, they are paying you ahead of time (which is recommended) for additional sessions. This simple solution will solve much of your collections problems since you don’t need to chase after clients to pay their invoices or awkwardly give their credit card number at the end of an impactful session. Just ask for your client’s prior permission to charge their card after the session.

Payment Plans and Reoccurring Payments

You also need some other language in this section to address future payments, such as if your clients are agreeing to recurring payments for installment programs (a payment plan for a fixed-cost program) or regularly recurring payments for a monthly program that they can cancel.

Your language needs to state that they agree, in advance, for you to keep charging their credit card on file each month, quarter, or year. State how they can cancel the recurring program and what happens if they cancel mid-period and don’t want further coaching sessions.

Rejected Cards, Charge-Backs, and Late Fees

Think about what will happen if their payment bounces or they do a charge-back on what they already paid to you for their coaching sessions. 

Usually, you will have a term for late fees, collection costs, and attorney fees. Late fees have a maximum allowed in some areas, so check what local law requires. You may also expressly state that they will no longer receive services or will be removed from the coaching schedule and program if their payments stop. If you have a no refund policy for coaching services, you need to state why, such as because you have reserved a spot in your limited calendar that cannot be easily filled.   

Refund Policies

Refund policies and “money back guarantee” programs need to be detailed clearly. 

Some coaches will offer a first coaching session where the client can receive a refund if either side finds they are not a good fit. Some coaches offer limited “money back guarantee” programs for courses if the student does all the homework and does not see any value, if requested by a certain time. If you offer one of these programs, know that limited homework-required guarantees tend to be a source of drama, so be sure to clearly define the terms of your policy ahead of time and make it as straightforward as possible. 

What about unused coaching sessions? If a client has sessions left because they decide they no longer need your coaching services, or can’t continue because of other commitments, can they get a refund? Make sure to clearly outline your cancellation policy for personal coaching ahead of time.

What Legal Terms Are Required For Coaches?

If you are giving your clients any materials or teaching them proprietary systems that belong to you, set expectations that they cannot take those materials or ideas and post them online or use them in their own practice. Define that signing up to your coaching session constitutes acceptance that ownership of materials is yours.

You can even state that you may be launching a licensing or certification program eventually, and they can contact you to obtain more information (great way to build interest for later!). 

Clarify That You Aren’t a Therapist or Providing Mental Health Care

Make sure to define what profession and type of practice this is, and what it is not. 

For example, if you are a life coach, state that you are not a mental health counsellor providing therapy, mental health advice, or medical advice. Make it clear that your coaching session program covers life coaching only and not professional mental health care.

If you are providing budgeting coaching, you would need to state that you are not a registered investment advisor or financial planner. If you offer business coaching or executive coaching, you would need to state that you’re only providing a mentoring service and not making business decisions for your coachees. Clear boundaries will avoid any future problems or misunderstandings.

The disclosures you need depend upon your type of practice, it’s all about preventing confusion for your specific clients. You want your clients to know what you are qualified to do and what licenses you don’t have or are not using.  

If something goes wrong in the coaching process, your terms should state what happens. 

Since many of you will have clients purchasing services and products who are located in different states or countries than where you are located, it makes sense to include non-litigation options like meditation and arbitration in your coaching disclaimer. If you also see local clients in person, you can include a Small Claims Court option for when it is appropriate since that’s the most simple and least expensive way to resolve many disputes. 

Other Legal Terms To Include

There are other legal terms you may want to include, such as: choice of law (what country/state’s law applies to interpret your terms), force majeure (no one has to do anything if an act of God or war makes it impossible), severability (if one clause is illegal the rest of the terms are still okay), and no assignment (they can’t assign these sessions to another person). 

You should also reassure clients with a confidentiality personal information clause so they have peace of mind about what you do with their details.

Why Do Coaches Need Terms and Conditions?

If you end up needing to use the terms, it will most likely be because someone does a charge-back via your merchant account, which can happen months after you deliver your services or products. 

This typically is because they are unhappy with the coaching sessions and program and are using a fee dispute to cancel and get a refund. If that happens, you need to be able to show they agreed to the terms and they already used the sessions or program. Or, you need to show that the client agreed to a “no refund” policy at the time of purchase. 

Asking your client to sign terms and conditions before they take coaching sessions with you also gives you peace of mind that you will be covered should anything go wrong. You can’t achieve business success in an unregulated industry without some basic terms.

You will also deepen your coaching relationship if you start with a clear outline of what both the coach and the client should expect right from the first coaching session. A coaching agreement with your clients helps to avoid any actual or potential conflict.

How To Show Evidence

If you have specific evidence of their agreement, such as a check-box with IP address or an e-sign with a date, that will be helpful. If you have nothing to show the merchant account company, they might not help you with this dispute, especially if you can’t prove the “no refund” policy or you can’t prove that the client allowed the recurring charges. 

Create T&Cs for your coaching journey

Ultimately, life coaching terms and conditions cover your back, make your coaching relationship honest from the offset- They will help you with achieving desired business outcomes sooner and help you run your business honestly and efficiently. You want to offer coaching sessions based on trust after all, right?

Don’t skip the details by telling your client early what you expect, and you’ll be grateful in the long run. If people know where they stand when purchasing coaching services from your website, everyone knows what happens if anything were to go wrong in the future.

So go start your professional coaching journey and let your coaching sessions commence on the right foot.

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This is a guest post. Learn more about writing for us here.

By Elizabeth Potts-Weinstein
Elizabeth Potts Weinstein founded EPW Small Business Law in 2012 to help her fellow small business owners find ease and simplicity in all of the legal requirements of owning a small business. She has been an online entrepreneur since 2004, and enjoys researching her family tree, hiking, and exploring empty roads on the edge of the wilderness. Elizabeth has been a licensed attorney since 2000, has a Master’s Degree in Human Behavior, and has a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, Biology, and Environmental Studies. She has appeared on Fox-KTVU, in many publications such as the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, and on various podcasts/radio shows such as Introvert Dear, Nomadtopia, Side Hustle Nation, and Business Insanity Talk Radio. Learn more small business law tips at her website at Elizabeth Potts Weinstein, Attorney at EPW Small Business Law or Facebook Page (@SmallBusinessLaw), or connect with her on Twitter (@ElizabethPW), Instagram (@ElizabethPW), or YouTube (Elizabeth Potts Weinstein).
March 13, 2023

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